Parodies and the Public: Is Everyone so Gullible?

Fox Nation readers confuse Onion article with real news

I’m not really a pundit, I just play one on the web. And on occasion, commensurate with my faux punditly duties, I write a parody post. I may do this as a commitment to one of my core principles, “Scorn is mightier than ignorance”, or I might be bored or ready for a rant or just because I want to have a little fun – a pundit’s work is never done.

However, one of the consistent things about these parodies is that they always draw some proportion of people who actually believe them. One a few months back required me to add a disclaimer for fear open warfare would break out between the people who believed it was real and defended its “truth” and the people who believed it was real and tried to refudiate it.

Refudiate something that wasn’t true. Odd concept that.

Causing an Ideological War of the Worlds
I like to think I can sling a pithy narative as well as the next guy – certainly better than Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh – but, I find it hard to believe that my parodies are so great and realistic I might accidentally cause some sort of an ideological War of the Worlds.

I used to be mildly pleased by this. Ha ha, look how I pulled the wool over their eyes! It made me feel superior in the same way watching Jerry Springer makes me feel superior. I may be a goob, but at least I’m not an uber-goob who takes DNA tests to prove which of the 37 trailer park coquettes he’s been banging carries his child (it turns out about 34).

But as I rack up my tally of rubes, I’ve begun to wonder about the wider implications.

Our national discourse has become so rancorous and full of outright lies and gross distortions, you can’t even make things up anymore. People actually believed my  piece on the affair between Suzanne Malveaux and George Bush. Ditto my recent piece covering the Tea Party’s outrage over Obama pardoning Thanksgiving terror turkeys.

This may explain the popularity of  The Daily Show or Stephen Colbert‘s testimony to Congress. We know people watch those shows for their news, but the assumption that viewers understand they’re seeing imaginary news may be too broad.

The REAL Thanksgiving
Even when people watch mainstream news outlets like Fox, their common sense takes a powder. As I write this, Rush Limbaugh is pontificating on how the Indians scammed us on Manhattan and the pilgrims failed because they were socialists, a view supported by an honest to God US Congressman.

There was a day when that would’ve caused most people to shake their heads and think, “DAMN, there are a lot of imbeciles.” These days it draws a yawn, and in a truly troubling number of cases, more people who believe the blatant fantasies.

One of the core principles of the Founding Fathers was that of a well informed electorate. For example, believing horses could talk would at least cause the Founders to question your critical thinking skills. Today, pro-horse talking and anti-horse talking factions would form, there would be rancorous debate, and new laws enacted that both forbade and supported talking horses as a dozen different talking horse lobbies demanded.

We may have become too stupid and gullible to vote, particularly when the people we vote into office think the pilgrims failed because they were socialists. I’m tempted to write a parody about this, but it’s impossible.

There’s not enough believable reality left to craft a decent faux reality.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

Arizona Church Dome: Why Hate When You Can Outsource?

Not so long ago, much of the nation looked at Texas as the Loon Star State – a place so weird that  Texans think of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity as dangerous far lefties in league with that socialist Kenyan pretender in the White House.

But, every Empire of Imbeciles must come to an end.

America, meet the new goobs on the block – Arizonans. As Hunter Thompson used to say, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro”…and there’s no place more professional than Arizona.

It surely takes professional crazies to protest a Christian church because it looks too much like a mosque. Damn Mexican Mooslims!

Broken Light of the World
The point of contention for the good Christian folk of Phoenix seems to be that the Light of the World church topped their God garage with a dome. To Arizonans, domes are the illegal aliens of the religious world. Presumably the many Catholic missions doting the cactusophere are equally condemned for featuring domes in their designs too, but somehow I doubt that.

Tonya Somander of Think Progress asked, “…with so many high-profile figures selling unfounded, anti-Muslim fear to the public, is it any wonder that all many Americans can see in Islam is a phantom menace?”  Well Tonya, no, but it does make perfect sense in Arizona. They’re so jelly-kneed they don’t even have to have real Muslims to hate. All they need is a bold, but unsuspecting, church architect and some followers of the same faith most of them adhere to.

It’s odd that Christians – who are somewhere between 75 and 85 percent of the American population – are always worrying about atheists and Muslims trying to kill Christendom with a combination of dastardly Wars on Christmas and autographed baseball cards featuring Madalyn Murray O’Hair. This is especially true in Arizona where there are fewer Muslims than black people -  currently numbering about 6 people who must carry their papers at all times. But, there’s not a racist among them, so who’s counting?

However, maybe this does make sense. Clearly there are too few actual Muslims in Arizona to absorb all the fear Arizonans have for those tricky Islamists. It’s hard to get worked up over a bunch of New Yorkers who prefer titty bars to houses of worship in Lower Manhattan. After all, the titty baristas don’t get too exercised over Mexicans leaving piles of dead bodies at the Tuscon city limits, no do they?

A state as proud as The Grand Canyon Crackpot State must have it’s own Muslims to persecute. Period. Doing it vicariously through castoffs from Jersey Shore is just no fun at all.

So why not outsource Islamic fear?

It’s a Win-Win for Arizona
Arizona already has a surplus of Christians on hand. They represent a trained workforce that could easily make the transition from law abiding Jeezlets to evil burka wearers with little trouble. They have the religious training. Christian churches always need money to Save the Children in all those countries they’d never be caught dead in. It’s a win-win and best of all, Americans could corner the market on faux Muslims before the Indians or Chinese could get a foothold.

So it’s settled. Light of the Worlders, stop by Home Depot and hire a few illegal immigrants to get that dome up as fast as possible. Maybe even add a minaret here and there, nothing too ostentatious. And you can find someone who yodels to simulate the calls to prayer can’t you?

As for pay, $2 an hours seems fair – and no benefits, because they’re a socialist plot. We’d like to pay more, but we just can’t pay minimum wage because, well, we could get the Mexicans to work cheaper if we wanted and we don’t want to create a monetary imbalance in the Arizona economy. There’s no way strings of varnished chillies could make up the shortfall.

Muslims, our people will call your people. We’d like to talk outsourcing Christians to Yemen.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

We’ll Leave a Light On

The numbers evidently originate with the Press Trust of India, whose report was linked on the Drudge Report and picked up by Fox News host Glenn Beck. The news agency also wrongly said that the White House had blocked off the entire Taj Mahal Palace hotel for Obama's visit and that the U.S. was stationing 34 warships—roughly 10 percent of the naval fleet--off the coast of Mumbai for security reasons. Yahoo News

The one thing about the wing-nuts is that they are consistent. If they find a game plan that works they continue to use it no matter what. Remember how they sold the Iraq War by quoting unnamed sources who would then quote other unnamed sources until they created this circular argument based on no facts. Well it appears they are back to their old tricks again only this time it is concerning the President’s trip to India. Let’s be clear this isn’t about spending or belt-tightening. This is about whether this President deserves to travel as past Presidents have done while representing American interests around the world.

Here is what is troubling to me about this canard and all of the other “concerns” about this first family’s trips no matter where they are to, there is this underlying current that they somehow do not deserve to travel as other Presidents and first families have traveled in the past. This President and this first family are being asked to travel in coach while no one has ever questioned the travel arrangements of any of our other chief executives. The question then becomes why now? I don’t recall anyone questioning how much it cost to create W’s infamous “Mission Accomplished” landing and potential political ad funded by the American taxpayers. It is as if for some reason the current President is not worthy of all of the trappings of the office of the Presidency of the US.

The crazy part is this. When he was first elected the wing-nuts attacked the first family because they were going to “ghettoize” the White House with bar-b-ques and drunken parties on the front lawn and now they are attacking him for keeping the prestige of the office when he travels. Here is the thing this isn’t about the recession or the amount spent on this trip. This is about whether this President deserves the privileges given to other Presidents? For some reason this President doesn’t measure up to past Presidents and therefore doesn’t deserve to travel as all other Presidents have traveled. America has always prided itself on providing every President what he has needed while conducting business in the name of America. Our national prestige is now being sacrificed for what particular purpose?

Despite continued denials from the wing-nuts their goal from day one has been to delegitimize this President and to subtly and not so subtly attack him personally. This isn’t about the health-care reforms, or the financial reforms, or even the stimulus. This is about President Obama’s personal character and not just his but his family as well. Would we allow the children and First Ladies of previous white Presidents to be treated with such disrespect? The troubling fact is that regardless of our personal feelings about the officeholder we as a nation have always respected the office, but today that concept that we were taught as children is now being undermined. If we as Americans regardless of our political leanings continue to allow this constant chipping away and undermining of our institutions it won’t be long before we are faced with all-out anarchy.

With confidence and trust in our institutions at an all-time low there are those who would further undermine our system for the sake of short-term political gain. The time has come for all Americans to stand up and put an end to this practice of attacking the President not because they disagree with his policies but that they disagree with his legitimacy to be the President. After the results of the last election I am not so sure that we as a nation are prepared to repudiate these unsavory tactics and to elevate our political discourse back to policy issues. The last election has shown us that fear and obstructionism are still running rampant and are still working to motivate a proportion of the electorate.

President Obama just like any other President deserves to be treated with the same respect as all previous Presidents. He does not deserve to be housed at Motel 6 and fly commercial just because he is black. This is the type of hypocrisy that continues to undermine our standing in the world and especially towards non-white and non-Christian populations. One of these days we are going to learn that there are far more non-whites in the world than whites and if we continue to treat this President as if this is the Jim Crow south we will do so at our own peril.

Not only is it a bad precedence for the world it is a bad precedence for our own democracy. If we continue to weaken our institutions then no one should be surprised if they collapse. If government and our institutions do not function then what shall they be replaced with? Corporations? God help us if that is our alternative. The funny thing is that most of those who are attempting to undermine this President’s legitimacy are the same ones who claim to support “Constitutional Government”. I guess they missed the part about the office of the President and its place in our history.

Like Bachmann, several right-leaning pundits -- including Michelle Malkin and Fox News personalities like Eric Bolling and Sean Hannity -- have run with the $200 million per day number, touting it as proof that wasteful spending is alive and well. - AOL News

The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy - Charles de Montesquieu

The Disputed Truth

How Many J-Words Can Dance on the Tip of a Tongue?

CNN’s Rick Sanchez decided to go toe-to-toe with faux newser Jon Stewart and suffered the same fate as the last CNNer to do so – Tucker Carlson. However in the aftermath, we have a sort of “how many J-Words can dance on the tip of the tongue” argument brewing.

Stewart had been doing to Sanchez what he’s done to so many others for weeks – made fun of him. It’s the penalty one pays when one is famous and says dumb things. It’s all too easy for Stewart’s crack staff to find double-speak video and other public statements to hold crapweasels up to ridicule. I think Stewart’s brand of ridicule, despite its definite bite, is far less passionate than Keith Olbermann‘s skewers of the famous and inane. One gets the sense that Jon knows it’s a joke while Olbermann actually believes his targets are the Worst Persons in the World.

But then, I ain’t famous so what do I know?

Punking Yourself
If you live under the glare of studio lights and talk for a living – incessantly – you’ll punk yourself occasionally. It happens. And when it does, you have to either have a great sense of humor or develop tough skin, because the dumber you are, the more you’ll be held up to ridicule. Exhibits A-D, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Christine O’Donnell, and Sharron Angle, et al.

Sanchez’s skin is apparently as thin as John McTheusela’s, as is the skin of Sanchez’s CNN overlords. Sanchez let the J-Bombs fly, CNN fired him, he apologized to Stewart soon after and Jon and Rick rode into the sunset, at least if not BFFs, OK with things. And, Christopher Hitchens takes up Sanchez’s cause.

Hitchens? Really? Famous crusading atheist? Has cancer?

One in the same.

Hitchens argues that Sanchez’s anti-Jewish statements are literally true. Despite the anti-semitic overtones, he says Jews (along with white Christians) actually are disproportionately represented in media and entertainment boardrooms. To Hitchens, Sanchez simply stated a fact no more problematic than saying African Americans are under-represented. And as boneheaded as Hitchens often is, he has a point. But, it was never about THAT point and it isn’t a necessarily a socially polite thing to say.

It all boils down to a “who can safely say the N-word, or in this case, the J-word”. Sure, Sanchez was unbelievably stupid, but if we’re going to fire every TV personality who’s stupid, TV would consist of lots of HD snow and annoying test pattern buzz.

But, you could make an argument that would be an improvement.

Not a White Supremacist Candidate
I personally find Sanchez annoying and I suspect his assumed anti-semitism may be real to some degree, although, barring any information to the contrary,  I’m not so sure he’d be a good candidate for your neighborly white supremacist enclave.

I don’t condone what he said. In fact, I don’t think it is as literally true as Hitchens does either. But, I’m not sure if it’s a firing offense when put in context.

Sanchez did the right thing in calling Stewart to apologize – though he wimped out by letting his wife announce it to the public on Facebook. Everyone might have been better served if the apology was both personal and public. A true mea culpa with some teeth – perhaps a show or series of shows devoted to anti-semitism coupled with some work with Jewish charities and up close and personal exposure to Jewish people. The Jewish religion believes in atonement, a earthly one to be sure, but atonement nonetheless.

If Sanchez refused to do these things, if his superiors had to co-opt him to do them – in a very public way – they, and those calling for his resignation, would have every right to say, “don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.” Or, if he did it again, ala Mel Gibson, away with him. No one has to cut the man some slack and some believe no one should.

But we might all learn a little about ourselves and each other if we did.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

Twitter and the Cowardice of Sarah Palin

Originally posted at Cagle.

When I joined Twitter in July 2006 I was the 3,365th person to sign up for the 140-character message streaming social network. Now, with more than 190 million users having taken the plunge, I guess you could call me an early adopter of sorts.

See, I've always believed that the Internet -- and by extension new online tools like Twitter -- have the ability to create change because it levels the political playing field tearing down walls that have traditionally separated the powerless and the powerful.

It turns out I may have been wrong -- at least when it comes to a certain half-termer from Alaska.

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