WRITER. The site is worthy of exploration for its irreverent use of interactivity, and there are also other kinds of provocative material here -- in particular, cogent essays on media and social issues that are as edgy as anything on the Internet. The Atlantic Monthly.
January 2, 2012
2011 Year Of Popular Trash: The Kardashianization Of American Political Culture
Tanya Domi and Clinton Fein look back on 2011 and brace themselves for 2012 after surveying the Kardashianization of America’s popular trash culture which morphed into an equally diminished political culture. Domi and Fein take you on a historical, political and cultural tour of America, drawing a perspective of an unseemly year.
CLINTON: Looking back at the year, despite some laughable moments, is actually quite depressing when one considers it’s the year 2011 we’re talking about. In certain instances we appear to be regressing as a species. I’m reminded of the Mike Judge movie, “Idiocracy” – a futuristic satire of how fertility technology impacted the natural selection process to the point that Americans were so dumb and numb, the only progress being made was the size of the landfills.
December 5, 2011
Of Ordinance, Order and Occupation
San Francisco District 8, Castro Supervisor, Scott Wiener has released an ugly blueprint: an ordinance in search of a problem that threatens to turn the Castro into a First-Amendment-free zone.
From fiery political speeches, candlelight vigils, victories and defeats, the Castro has brought the community together in sickness and in health. A place where women in suits mingle with Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Where politicians know to embrace diversity as an election imperative. Not because of national gay organizations setting up shop to drain money better served filling local coffers. Nor because of its stores selling over-priced rainbow colored crap using protectionist trade practices under the guise of history, more concerned with what you buy for the Matthew Shepherd memorials than the tears you cry.
The powerful draw of the Occupy movement and the global condemnation of the often heavy-handed, violent response have local governments across the country scrambling for solutions. The First Amendment is under attack with unprecedented firepower, as the protections it affords its citizens to assemble and protest, and the press to observe and report, is being trampled on with jackboots, pepper-spray, rubber bullets and tear gas.
September 6, 2007
Idaho. No, You-da-ho!
Since I would never find myself in the same position as Senator Craig, I tried to imagine what I would do from Sgt. Dave Karsnia -- the entrapper?s -- point of view, or if I was minding my own business in a bathroom stall and some strange, liver-spotted, gnarled hand swept across the underside of the stall. My guess is I would probably yank off the wedding ring, and walk out, making sure to flush first. Etiquette always.
But then again, if I was Sgt. Dave Karsnia, I would be too busy thinking about what to tell my family when they ask me how my day was, or what to tell my kids if they wanted to inform their peers what their father actually does as a "first responder."
"Well actually I spend my life pretending to be taking a crap, hoping some desperate closet queen will tap his foot in the stall next door. And then, respond I do." The self-actualization he must feel is heart warming.
May 16, 2007
Just Desserts: The End of Jerry Falwell
He may have been a nice father to someone, or a sweet grandfather, or a kindly mentor, but Jerry Falwell represented the absolute worst that mankind has to offer. His message was one of hate, intolerance and ugliness, sugar-coated along with a twisted and poisonous infusion of dogmatic religious fervor.
He may well have galvanized millions to fight the protected notion of separation of Church and State, but his legacy is as ugly and embarrassing as it was ever impressive.
April 11, 2007
Free Speech, Not Consequences
Two years ago, I warned MSNBC that Imus was tainting their brand. More than that, I questioned how they could continue to allow Imus to denigrate their journalists, as the media and political elite sustained his platform with appearances on his show.
Imus still has the right to free speech, and the right to call whoever he wants whatever he wants. With or without appropriate context. But never forget, that speech may well be free, but never free of consequences, and is not guaranteed under the banner of a news organization striving for integrity and journalistic excellence, no matter how far short they have measured.
January 19, 2007
Unacceptable In Any Context or Circumstance
A brouhaha of gargantuan proportions has enveloped Hollywood after the Grey's Anatomy star, speaking to reporters at the Golden Globes, reopened a wound he had made back in October last year when he referred to T.R. Knight as a faggot.
Like Jesse Jackson's attempts to ban use of the word nigger, efforts to punish Isaiah Washington for using the word faggot seem ridiculously misguided. His denial of having uttered it is what's offensive, not his use of it in the context of the denial. Had he said, I am really sorry I called T.R. a faggot, as opposed to I didn't call T.R a faggot, would his comment have been so explosive?
November 28, 2006
The Nigger Trigger
Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic meltdown was no less vitriolic because he used the word Jew instead of the more derogatory kike or hooknose. His seething sentiments were perfectly communicated by the context and delivery in which they were proffered, not by his choice of words.
Similarly, Michael Richards' tirade was shocking because of the sentiments he communicated, not because he used the word nigger. Had he told the black men in the audience that he didn't appreciate being heckled by African Americans, would that really have made the comment any more palatable?
October 8, 2006
Keeping Eyes on the Balls
The real lesson here, of course being missed by just about everyone, is that this is exactly what Don't Ask, Don't Tell breeds. The same way as the United States military adopts a incomprehensible policy that forces gay servicemembers to lie about their sexual orientation in violation of every tenet the military teaches in terms of honor and integrity, so too does the antigay agenda of the so-called religious right and the Republican Party demand the closet of the complicit gays that pepper its ranks.
For Republicans, the Mark Foley scandal is as much about the embarrassment of having a high ranking homosexual in its party as it is a predator in its fold, for each are equally reprehensible to them. For Democrats, it's more about revenge of the Republicans than it is about questioning their supposed values to begin with. For right-wing fanatics, it's more about equating homosexuality with pedophilia than it is about protecting allegedly vulnerable pages. And for gay activists, it's more about clamoring to defend itself from those very accusations and the likely vilification by Republicans than it is about simply distancing itself from a congressman whose only possible crime is being a predator, not a homosexual, and for whom the issue is no more relevant than it is for Alcoholics Anonymous.
August 28, 2006
Fox, Henhouse and Chickens
Hate-filled morons, swathed in protective layers of faux legitimacy provided by self-defined ?news organizations? are making it more and more dangerous to find, access and report the truth. And harsh as it may sound, recently released Fox journalist, Olaf Wiig, in all his idealism, cannot expect to perform his role as a journalist, no matter how noble his intentions, with blithe indifference to the corporate structure through which his contributions are filtered.
As long as hard-working, courageous, idealistic and responsible journalists and reporters remain willfully ignorant of the corporatization of news, and allow and accept equal billing with loud-mouthed shills, spitting deliberate provocations in an increasingly divisive substitution of content for discontent, the remaining shreds of nobility in the profession of journalism will be irreparably damaged and news will be forever defined by shallow attempts to generate ratings and revenue, and to push agendas rather than explain them.
August 17, 2006
JonBenet Ramsey - The Sequel
Mrs. Ramsey died in June 2006 of ovarian cancer, never quite vindicated in the eyes of the public. With the arrest of John Mark Karr in Bangkok for the murder of JonBenet, America can prepare for the next onslaught to distract from the civil war in Iraq and tenuous ceasefire in Lebanon.
John Ramsey is unlikely to forget who his friends are, and hopefully will keep the media at bay, as they prepare to dig up, piss on and shred JonBenet's memory once again. And hopefully he won't succumb to the too-little-too-late, inevitable, post-mortem re-varnishing of Patsy Ramsey's memory either.
July 22, 2006
As allies drop like flies, (including even Britain, who issued a powerful condemnation of Israel's bombing campaign in Lebanon), innocent Lebanese civilians are slaughtered, Beirut and southern Lebanon are flattened and northern Israel is showered with Katyusha rockets the only thing left for Condoleezza Rice to do on her trip to Jerusalem is to turn around and headbutt Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the chest.
It may have lost the World Cup for France, but it certainly characterizes the bull-in-a-china-shop style of American diplomacy, and is the only thing left that might restore her credibility.
February 3, 2006
The Stakes of the Communion
As fanatical, intolerant Muslim preachers continue to incite violence over the depictions of violence, and as Israeli Jews deliberately incite riots by building unauthorized new structures in settlements, America's religious righteous -- armed with justifications from their churches, mosques and synagogues -- are mincing into gay bars with machetes and guns and opening fire. Others are frantically preparing to picket Coretta Scott King's funeral because she supported gay rights. The Pope, lost in the haze of his Nazi Youth is too busy purging the symptoms of his dysfunctional, homocentric Church -- in between satin dress fittings and Prada shopping sprees -- blissfully oblivious to the blatantly obvious causes. The one certain thing all of these Torah-touting, Koran-clutching, Bible-thumping, Scripture-screeching religious zealots seem to share, is an unbridled lust for violence.
The President used the bully pulpit to spew a narrow, deluded world view that bares not a trace of reality, vision or wisdom. Representing a once-respected nation by turning it into a sick, despised caricature of democracy, achieved by preemptive force, violence and intimidation. A twisted Napoleonic melange of bullying, bellicose bravado, riddled with corruption, cronyism, greed and arrogance. The extent of the contrast betweeen the President's hot air and the chilling reality would be laughable if the consequences were not so horrific, painful and deadly.
December 24, 2005
'Tis the Treason
Many of the professionals we're discharging are fluent in languages such as Farsi and Arabic, who are able to intercept communications, interpret messages and in essence, make sense of the intelligence that it so important it requires pissing on the constitution to acquire it. All the while, the Pentagon admits to a shortage in these fields, and is having the toughest time ever meeting recruitment goals in all branches of the service.
Not only that, last week, NBC reported that newly leaked Pentagon documents have confirmed the military has been monitoring and collecting intelligence on anti-war groups across the country, including student groups opposed to the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual military personnel. The report prompted SLDN to announce plans to submit a Freedom of Information Act request to learn if it has also been monitored by the Pentagon.
That the President and his defenders can turn around and look the American people in the eye and claim to be protecting them, when this Administration shamefully continues to discharge and punish vital and accomplished warriors in its War on Terror for their sexual orientation and their private, constitutionally protected conduct, does not just make President Bush a cheap liar. He is aiding and abetting the enemy while spying on the people who supposedly elected him. Let's cut the bullshit and call it what it is.
October 26, 2005
Things Fall Apart
Given the downward spiral of women's rights in the new Iraq, (and Laura's long-forgotten commitment to women in Afghanistan), all that's needed to complete this branding of American feminism is the introduction of a sexless, frigid, devoutly religious Virgin to mandate morality whilst sipping from Diet Coke cans with Clarence Thomas.
Enter Harriet Miers -- the most unqualified sycophant ever! The woman George W. Bush has nominated to replace Sandra Day O'Conner on the Supreme Court is a shallow, forgetful, inconsistent brownnose who believes the control of women's bodies ought to be shaped by men with delusions of piety, and in imaginary, sandal-clad martyrs watching protectively from the heavens.
Not since Mr. Bush himself was appointed to the Presidency has a nominee been so extraordinarily unqualified to hold a position. When Monica sucked President Clinton's cock she ended up with a soiled dress and a lousy job at the Pentagon. Harriet Miers kissed George W. Bush's ass and was offered a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.
September 20, 2005
Response Ability and Responsibility
The new buzzword in Washington and beyond is responsibility.
Everyone's taking it these days. Despite an initial attempt to deflect criticism, all those involved in the atrocious response to Hurricane Katrina implored everyone else not to play blame games or engage in pointing fingers.
As people still search for remnants of lives and loves lost in the toxic sludge that still submerges as much as 40 percent of New Orleans, they can at least do so happy in the knowledge that brave people have stepped up to acknowledge their mistakes -- even if the consequences are designed simply to improve their standings in the polls.
One thing emerging from all of this, rhetoric and pious responsibility-accepting notwithstanding, is abundantly clear. The lessons being sought and learnt are not how to prevent a catastrophe of this magnitude in the future.
Rather, how to better profit from one.
September 5, 2005
Execution and Evacuation
What I was witnessing was not in some other part of the world where access, resources or familiarity was a problem. The initial response evoked Robert Mugabe bulldozing the destitute of Zimbabwe, masked with a paper thin veneer of false compassion. Could all this really be playing out in a major American city? Could a country that flattened Hiroshima honesty be stymied from reaching a Convention Center in New Orleans to save a few lives?
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit had granted blanket, automatic extensions with one notable, horrifying exception, that screamed volumes. "True emergency matters, e.g. death penalty cases with execution dates, or deportation matters with an imminent and confirmed deportation dates," were provided an immediate solution, which had been already orchestrated and set up at the Chambers of Chief Judge Carolyn Dineen King, in Houston Texas.
September 1, 2005
Hero Fiddled: Mass Destruction For Real
Everyone keeps saying that it's too early to place blame. Cable news network whores, like the pigs at MSNBC are already capitalizing on the tragedy by showing cheesy graphics accompanying solemn, September 11th-like dirges saluting the extraordinary heroes. The Hurricane Katrina Tragedy!
But guess what? There is plenty of blame to go around immediately. Right now, if America hadn't exhausted its resources in the Persian Gulf, people here in the Gulf of Mexico might have stood a better chance.
Inevitably, as mosquitoes breed in the toxic floodwaters, and rats and other animals spread disease, while dialysis patients are dying for water and power, and the temptation of desperate humans to risk drinking the toxic sludge through which they cannot escape, more and more people will die.
August 16, 2005
It Takes a Prick
Although it's difficult to determine which of the mixed messages the accurate one is, it looks as though America's pulling out of Iraq and it isn't. John Kerry couldn't have come up with a more classic flip-flop. According to General George Casey, "some fairly substantial reductions" can be expected to start next spring, even though declaring such a timetable -- even discussing options for an "exit strategy" -- implies weakening resolve according to President Bush.
What no politician or partisan talking head on the cable TV circuit seems to be getting, is that in order to hand over control, one has to have control to hand over. If the current situation is this chaotic, with 138 000 American troops, it's impossible to imagine how untrained Iraqis will not only learn from them, but avoid their mistakes and become actually effective. Sovereign control is neither a campaign slogan nor a sound byte.
June 30, 2005
Reinforcing that no amount of money can buy breeding or taste. America is looking more and more like a gaudy, Liberace-inspired, palatial trailer where plush and lush and cash and trash are one and the same and where a culture war seems to be tirelessly waged in a cultureless society.
When will we stop confusing roles? Why do we care what Mel Gibson thinks about euthanasia or what Jessica Simpson thinks of the presidency, if capable of thinking at all?What horrible abuse have our kids suffered that would result in them giving a shit about Britney Spears' pregnancy or the Gastineau Girls -- a cheap, tacky show on E! about a shallow mother teaching her daughter how to dangle her vagina like a carrot to secure diamonds from men (as opposed to Kathy Hilton who taught her daughter the same thing even though they already had the diamonds)? Why do we insist on seeking clarity from the worn, scorned, pawned and uninformed?
June 12, 2005
In God We Lust
As everyone fought and politicized a woman's personal and private nightmare -- with such ugliness one can only hope she was not cognizant of any of it -- John Paul II lay clinging to life, powdered, puffed and swathed in silk and satin in what was interpreted by the Catholic Church as a "lesson in suffering and sacrifice." His much anticipated death quickly knocked Schiavo off the front pages, but only amplified the increasingly vulgar mix of religion and politics -- particularly in America. Until they remembered Michael Jackson.
March 24, 2005
Imus and the Flies
It's not his over-the-top, homophobic, racist, misogynist, jingoist, geocentric commentary and the political incorrectness of his show that's at issue. Nor the boring Kathy Lee Gifford meanderings about his annoying son, Wyatt, nor the one-act, one-joke retards and morons he employs. It's his guests.
He has smartly interwoven faux beltway sophistication with faux cowboy country rustic with a blend of unmistakable trailer trash tawdry that somehow commands the attention of every columnist vying enviously to get onto his show, and politicians -- both locally in New York and nationally --know that passing the Imus test can have more impact on a race than most would like to admit.
January 16, 2005
A Midswinter Night's Scream
Let the news consumer decide, and let major news organizations like The New York Times package and sell their standards, ethics and credibility because it's all they have to distinguish them from tabloids, bloggers and lesser news organizations.
As columnists condemn bloggers on TV and radio shows hosted by "news personalities" peppered with experts, pundits and analysts, discerning what journalism is, is almost as tough as defining what is is. Trust is earned by delivering on a promise, not simply making one.
January 4, 2005
2005, With Faith
Amber Frey, the timid blonde that was perpetually sheltered by the overeager publicity whore, Gloria Allred, is now poised to dazzle us with such enchanting insights as "I wonder if Scott thinks about me," dutifully reported by CNN news scrolls beneath tsunami-ravaged Indonesian orphans.
The State of the Union address; Pentagon and media orchestrated Iraqi elections; homo-frantic attempts to ban everything gay from marriage to usage of the very word; and, naturally, Amber Frey book mania, will keep us busy and distracted enough to ignore the real carnage of both the War on Iraq and tsunami until Martha Stewart is released and hype begins for her new TV show and upcoming book.
October 25, 2004
This is not even Pop culture, its Popsicle culture. Regurgitated to meet the demands of a reality-based celebrity-obsessed cultureless cesspool that defies the notion of depth. Andy Warhol's theory of fifteen-minute fame was conceived in a pre-ADD mind-set. Who can even tolerate fifteen minutes without being bored to death or achingly distracted? Unless, like with Arnie and Maria, our force-fed celebrity fix is constructed from disposable, non-biodegradable plastic.
With all this celebrity-tinged gay bashing and poorly manufactured machismo lite the latest rage, make sure you don't let any of them damn faggots wreck your marriages or undermine your masculinity. Don't let boring old museum directors stop you from looking skeletal enough to pass for Barbie, Maria Shriver or Helen Gurley Brown. So that Bill O'Reilly can loofa the little that's left of you with falafels.
June 15, 2004
Moral Mockeries and Lamentable Legacies
When you send women and men off to kill people you obviously have to desensitize them by reducing the enemy to a sub-human level. To expect anyone to be able to sophisticatedly switch compassion on the basis of inadequate training and conflicting, shifting and shifty, Geneva-Convention-dodging interpretations designed to avoid culpability and responsibility at every turn -- Love thy Prisoner of War like thou love thine Enemy Combatant -- is fundamentally impossible for almost any human. Even Gods. Even Ronald Reagan.
Now, as we approach the deadline -- a Reality TV joke of handing over sovereignty -- full sovereignty -- (except for military control and legislative power and oil fields) to the winner of the United States' blend of American Idol and of Survivor, Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who won the first part just in time to let the world know who we were "transferring" power to, has yet to survive the Survivor part as his brand new cabinet is appointed and assassinated almost simultaneously.
April 20, 2004
Tell Us When, Tell Us How: A Letter to President Bush
"But they don't tell us when; they don't tell us where; they don't tell us who; and they don't tell us how," Dr. Rice earnestly told the commission. While the terrorists should be appropriately chided for failing to provide such exquisite detail of their attacks, (or commended for following the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy to the letter), such an expectation from your National Security Advisor suggests we disband the CIA, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security altogether, and simply adopt a "Hope for the Best" motto as an equally effective and far less expensive counter-terrorism strategy.
March 29, 2004
The Backfire of the Bush
Already the miscalculations are coming home to roost. Using graphic images of September 11 in a dramatic ad campaign, the Bushies horrified and offended the families of victims and survivors of the terrorist attacks, who were sickened by the politicization of an event that was supposed to have represented -- if anything -- a non-partisan unity of American resolve. The use of actors posing as firemen in what resemble plastic helmets garnered scorn from the real firefighters who lost real men wearing real helmets.
March 3, 2004
Dirty Cows, Mad Bombs and the Culture Whores
Democrats should expect wonders from, and elect President, a man who signed the Patriot Act before reading it, and sat there like an idiot actually believing Dick Cheney, as jaws dropped in disbelief in the rest of the intelligent world and beyond, before giving the nod to create a new depleted uranium landfill called liberation in what was once the Cradle of Civilization. All the while, enjoying the overwhelming support of the "separate but equal" gays and lesbians scrambling like starved rats for his cursory nod to civil unions.
December 19, 2003
Merry Muslim Christmas
Given the hundreds of thousands, if not more, Iraqis that have encountered misery and death as the result of the two wars conducted by American forces, and a decade of devastating and crippling sanctions under Presidents Bush and Clinton, and the million or so deaths in Afghanistan since 1979, trying Hussein for crimes against humanity should prove entertaining reality television. Next installment: Ousted New York Stock Exchange Chairman Dick Grasso to head the Security and Exchange Commission.
But fear not. This holiday season will have more than enough jam-packed entertainment to keep you going if you get bored trying to count dead soldiers in spite of the ban on images of their return home in coffins.
October 21, 2003
Detox City for Botoxic Nation
Maybe this is how it is in William Bennett's dark, smoke-filled world of roulette wheels and blackjack tables or Rush Limbaugh's hydrocodone heaven, or Bill O'Reilly's toxic, over bloated ego, but for most of us, these pseudo-moralists spewing their ill-concealed hypocrisies are probably the only things more revolting and anger-provoking than some steroidal, testosterone-imbalanced bastard shoving his robotic hands up the skirts of our Moms or sisters.
September 11, 2003
In a speech given at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, on September 10th, the President exploited the gravity of the September 11th anniversary to politicize an aggressive police state agenda and deflect criticism by sugar-coating it in patriotism. "We will not forget the rescuers who ran toward danger and the passengers who rushed the hijackers," he said, reminding everyone that at the same time, he ran away leaving the nation and world lost and leaderless for almost the entire day. "And we will never forget the servants of evil who plotted the attacks," he piped, reminding everyone that even after turning Osama Bin Laden into Saddam Hussein, billions of dollars and thousands of lives later, he's still nowhere to be found.
August 26, 2003
Roy's Rock and Alabama's Role
If a referendum were held, the question over the display of the Ten Commandments would be in the hands of the people of Alabama, and the controversy would dissolve immediately.
If Roy Moore has his way however, any public official, no matter who they are, can unilaterally decide to sneak into any public building in the middle of the night, and pepper any wall or rotunda with any art they feel is appropriate, without any kind of formal procedure.
August 8, 2003
The Silence of the Sodomites
The Lawrence v. Texas ruling did nothing to change the criminality or consequences of Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Right now gay servicemembers who are fluent in Arabic, despite urgent translator shortages, are being discharged for being gay, endangering the lives of Americans and thwarting the potential to curtail terrorist acts.
Perhaps a mutiny of the sodomites is in order. If every gay servicemember came out of the closet, the policy would have to be struck down, because the system couldn't handle it. Nor could America's national security or its overflowing imperial responsibilities.
June 23, 2003
Fundamentally flawed blocking technology, intended to keep smut from children, does not violate the First Amendment even though it shuts off some legitimate, if not critically and life-saving importantly informational Web sites, such as how to practice safe sex, a divided Supreme Court held, ruling that Congress can force the nation's public libraries to equip computers with anti-pornography filters. Once again, the High Court has failed. It offers no guidelines and the definitions it applies remain unconstitutionally vague and inadequate as a standard, particularly one by which to approach a modern and unique medium. Especially one characterized not only by words and images, but also by audio, interactivity and imagination.
June 6, 2003
When former Miss Vermont, Katy Johnson, read Tucker Max's graphic account of their stormy relationship, she sued, winning a temporary injunction that is about to be challenged. What makes this case so interesting is that both parties use their real names as brand extensions to sell themselves and related products, essentially presenting themselves as public figures, particularly relevant to the legal aspects pertaining to privacy, and to an extent muddying the waters as to whether the alleged transgressions pertain to commercial or personal speech. Both parties attended law school, and both have authored books that are published and both rely on their looks to promote their image. Both have appeared on different programs on MTV, and both are lightning rods for controversy.
That is, however, where the similarities end, and everything else about these two individuals is nothing short of a series of startling contradictions.
April 14, 2003
Bombing the Cradle
Despite global concerns, expressed in advance of the bombings, by international academics, historians and ordinary citizens in the form of petitions, American servicemembers were so busy helping Iraqis chop down and destroy statues of Saddam Hussein, they ignored the looting of people's private possessions and Iraq's greatest riches, as treasures from the Iraq National Museum housing ancient priceless Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian collections and rare collections of Islamic texts were carted off in wheelbarrows. As marines peed in golden toilets in Saddam's palaces, posing for cameras lounging on expensive furniture, and while Secretary Rumsfeld scornfully derided as "exaggerated" the already-too-late media reporting of the looting (missed almost entirely by the networks giddily repeating footage of the toppling statues), the renowned museum was emptied leaving nothing but shattered glass and broken pottery bowls littering its floors. The cradle of ancient civilization destroyed and plundered by modern barbarians under the banner of liberation.
February 20, 2003
Be Ready to Mess with Mesopotamia
With almost the same fanfare as Ashcroft's satellite announcement from Moscow announcing the capture of alleged "dirty bomb dreamer," Jose Padilla (as much remembered as Osama bin Someone), the much criticized, color-coded threat level security alert went from Dijon mustard to terracotta orange (depending on the color settings of monitors and televisions). A sudden, dramatic spike in sales of plastic sheeting and duct tape suggested that Americans were taking heed of the advice represented by the threat level alert system -- which although previously had specified shopping as a response -- had failed to add such blatant product specification. It's only a matter of time before color-coded security alerts turn into full-scale branding opportunities. Burnt Orange brought to you courtesy of Dupont.
Janaury 31, 2003
A new documentary, The Gift, by filmmaker Louise Hogarth is a timely investigation into a fascinating phenomenon -- the eroticization of deliberate HIV infection -- that shines a balanced yet uncompromising flashlight on the effectiveness of HIV prevention strategies and the mixed messages that continue to dangerously fuel a psychologically complex and potentially deadly game. Evenly presented yet unapologetically honest, Hogarth's film wades through very tricky and fragile political waters without being preachy or judgmental.
October 15, 2002
Dirty Little Dots
We have twenty-year-olds gulping down Viagra and ecstasy cocktails for all-night marathon sex sessions, and we have Air Force pilots seesaw-popping amphetamines in the morning and Ambien at night for precision bomb-dropping with requisite sleep. We have a pecking order of high society queens -- men and women, gay and straight -- based on which brand of antidepressant they're on, and we have eighty-year-old grandmothers chomping on Oxycotin to take the edge off. We have psychotic, road-raged soccer Moms in SUVs on so many variations their bodies are in a perpetual state of toxic shock, schlepping their irritated, sleep-deprived ten-year-olds who are snoring their way through class unless they've gulped down a gallon of Starbucks before school. We have teachers furiously debating whether their Wellbutrin dosage might interfere with their Adipex crash diet, while their students run wild unless they over-amp them on Dexedrine.
September 12, 2002
Engulfed by Tragedy
President Bush's Address to the Nation on Sept. 11 Anniversary. Following is a translation of President Bush's address to the nation from Ellis Island, as interpreted by Clinton Fein:
Good evening. A long year has passed since my administration used the terrorist attacks to attack our constitution. We've regurgitated the images so many times they are almost devoid of shock value, and only generate $150 per fundraising photo, perpetuating the anguish, rewarding the terrorism, this is crass ? but typical.
For some who lost loved ones, it's been a year of self promotion, of book deals, of trademark registration of goodwill phrases long in use.
September 1, 2002
The James Tarantos, Andrew Sullivans and Jonah Goldbergs represent the backslapping, under-exercised, thirties-going-on-seventies school of mediocre, William F. Buckley-inspired puffery pundit poofs who stuff themselves on an inebriating diet of hate-filled, self-aggrandizing, paradigm-trapped swill that perpetuates their distorted sense of relevance and inflates their already-obese egos. Their disturbed regurgitations offer a daunting yet valuable insight as to how much education is needed in America's synagogues and churches before we can expect to see or make a difference in the mosques and madrassas in the Middle East, let alone demand it.
July 26, 2002
TIPS is the PITS
A traitorous evildoer sees the President's kowtowing to the bible thumping double-crossing Karl Rove crowd as just another sign of his fraudulent, white-collar, preppy, Yankee Doodle Dimwit, yahoo, nouveau-riche classist blend of upchucking rather than upbringing, who's parents' shitloads of oil and blood soaked cash could only buy him a C-grade education from Yale, while he cocaine snorted himself all the way to the pinnacle of mediocrity. Operation TIPS to the rescue.
June 26, 2002
George W. Explains...
President Bush Calls for New Palestinian Leadership to lead the Israelis and Palestinians to the land of milk, honey, Starbucks and Coca Cola. The full Bush speech with all the subtext that Karen Hughes refined, Karl Rove hates, Dick Cheney okayed, Colin Powell will be forced to stomach, Condi almost understands, and Ari Fleischer will neither understand nor articulate. The new black is transparent -- or vice versa, so step over Moses and Ghandi...it's George W's time in the thousand points of light.
June 20, 2002
Instead of censoring journalists who have the tenacity to delve into issues and expose vulnerabilities that put people at risk, the government would be better served in efficiently and effectively ensuring their remedy rather than taking steps to muzzle the person speaking out. Vulnerabilities in our food supply, electrical grids, chemical plants, trucking industry, ports, borders, airports, special events and cruise ships are far more likely to remain if we criminalize discussing them instead of addressing and fixing them.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Go to Hell
The Law of Guns and Canon
The Church is facing a crisis of unprecedented proportions in modern times. And while the comparison to the military's policy is instructive, the major difference is that the military's policy, for all its unfairness, hypocrisy and traitorous conduct that weakens the country's effective argument and defense against terrorism, the voluntary actions of adults are central to the issue. The Church's conduct makes them, at least, accessories in the rape and abuse of children physically and emotionally, which, coupled with their implausible denial, is nothing short of criminal, for which they should be tried and punished, Canon law be damned.
Harmful to Minors
Reading the language of a new bill crafted by Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu carefully, some things remain predictably the same. Politicians with no clue about technology and a penchant for publicity at the expense of children, will keep American children about as safe as hiring Osama bin Laden as a babysitter or confiscating toenail clippers from grandmothers in Oklahoma.
WARtertainment Reality Television
As Americans writhe in an unrequited love fest with George W. Bush, the most draconian of laws and policies are being slipped past us all in the name of terrorism. And the latest revelation to demonstrate just how far this is all going, is the distasteful teaming up of ABC, the Pentagon and a couple of Hollywood twerps to produce a reality war television show imaginatively titled "Profiles from the Front Line".
Union of the State
The Terror of Freedom
As we gather tonight, our Nation is at war, Linda Lay is hitting the talk shows pleading poverty, and the civilized world faces unprecedented dangers -- both from demented terrorists plotting attacks and other nations like ours pissing on the Geneva Convention. Yet the state of our Union has never been stronger. And the Union of the State has never been more dangerous and illusory. A glimpse of what George W. Bush really said in his State of the Union Speech.
Keep the Change
The New America
Without so much as a blink, a disastrous concoction of anger, blame, grief, revenge, resolve and good intentions was blended into a toxic mixture by America's relentless media conglomerates and served fresh as a tonic, with an excess of patriotism, platitudes and a twist of political grandstanding. The clich?notion of a world forever changed, a media perpetuated paradigm we're still stuck in, was as dubious on September 11, as it is now.
'Twas the Day Before Christmas
'Twas the day before Christmas, and bombs were still dropping
While America frantically finished its shopping;
The catalogs, glossy, boasted products obscene,
Packaged in red, white and blue and in green.
Terror & Quarantine
On the Streets of San Francisco
A simmering anger among activists, media organizations and city officials erupted last week amidst accusations of bomb threats, terrorism and stalking in a series of events that rocked the City of San Francisco. While ACT UP/ San Francisco crossed the legal line, there are some grave issues to consider. In light of the events of September 11, 2001 is it fair or even remotely accurate to call this terrorism?
To deny irony is to deny humor and healthy cynicism.
Not since Alanis Morisette's song "Ironic," in which she lamented mournfully about nothing more than a series of shitty coincidences, has anyone been so off base as to what irony is and does. Irony is just as hard to deny as it is to define whom we are supposed to be fighting in this newly declared war: where and how.
The Second Coming
The Age of Bin Laden
Now, more than ever, we need to tune in to people around us and tune out the sappy, obsequious corporate-controlled media instilling over-produced, high-tech fear into us by simply regurgitating the government's outdated war strategies as advocated by dying blowhards who peaked in the exact same posts in President Ford's cabinet four administrations ago.
Let's smell the Starbucks and realize that the stock prices of companies like Viacom, Microsoft, AOL Time Warner, News Corporation, General Electric, Disney, Vivendi, Alcoa and Halliburton are really the only thing anyone from the White House to the Treasury to the media touting this war cares about, not humanitarian values or the value of the information or programming that is designed to keep us ignorant and petrified while we cling to our flags in tears.
Everybody's Happy Now
The Martyrdom of Tim McVeigh
An emotional wreck grieving the loss of someone they loved dearly did not conduct this execution. The first federal execution since the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it was performed with the cool precision of an emotionless State. And that is all the more difficult to understand.
As we continue to execute those who were minors at the time of their crime, the mentally retarded, women and the elderly, we ought to pause before we listen to government bureaucrats and elected officials quick to use the nineteen children murdered that day to defend and justify America's killing industry. One can only wonder what lesson they might have learned today, had they not been in so unfortunate a place at so awful a time.
The City of Kirkland vs. The Constitution
Judges need to understand that prior restraints on speech yield detrimental consequences. All too often, the issuing of prior restraints does little more than invite violation and sharpen the focus of what may have otherwise remained in relative obscurity. Our position is consistent with our commitment to freedom of expression, the relevance of this case to our own experiences relating to prior restraint and to point out clearly that prior restraints should not be issued and do not work. No matter how well-intended a prior restraint may be, it is flagitious, perhaps even more so when accompanied by sweet reason rather than the gag orders of a precisian.
Rather Sad to Be Glaad!
The Eminem Controversey
Eminem however, is understandably angry. His music is a channel of expression through which he is able to articulate his isolation, confusion and the anger that the society he lives in thrusts upon him. The media hypocrisy that surrounds him. The trappings of fame and glamor. The struggle between mainstream legitimacy and outsider credibility.
Ironically, his pairing with Elton will do more to defuse his outsider credibility by mainstreaming him with the likes of Sir John than any picket protests or pathetic town hall meeting could ever hope to accomplish.
Welcome to the Machine
Lost in the twenty-four hour mediathon that New York Times' Frank Rich articulately predicted would be short in lifespan owing to the absence of sex was a bitter and delicious irony. The very mistake that permeated both campaigns pre-election - the misuse of the word fuzzy and its connotations -- turned out to be at the core of this embarrassing post election stalemate.
Won't the Real Hypocrite Please Shut Up?
Lots of Hot Property, None of it Intellectual!
After Lynn Cheney's masterful performance decrying the foul-mouthed misogynistic Eminem before John McCain and the gang on Capitol Hill, one would have automatically expected her and the former Death Row producer Dr. Dre to be squarely opposed ideologically. But the current gyre of moral outrage, politics and spin swirling around entertainment, media, violence and law is so much more complex.
Houston, We Have a Problem
The Full Story Behind The United States v. ApolloMedia
In June 1999 the government ordered ApolloMedia to furnish the identity of a user of our site annoy.com's popular electronic e-greeting card service that facilitates anonymous communications after the University of Houston's tried unsuccessfully to obtain ApolloMedia records. At the same time the court ordered ApolloMedia to refrain from discussing not only the content of the order with anyone until authorized by the court, but the very existence of the order and its application. The unprecedented blanket gag order was unlimited in time and scope. Payback for our own Supreme Court lawsuit against the United States, ApolloMedia v. Reno? Paranoia, say some. You'd be naïve to think otherwise, others.
Gush and Bore and Nothing More
A Campaign 2000 Autopsy
No two words better describe what is left for us to endure over the next eight months and sum up what we have already suffered since the primaries began last year. Campaign 2000 is the most horrific phenomenon to hit America since Columbine, replete with MSNBC and CNN and the rest of the cesspool that comprise American media bombarding and polluting our consciousness with the same drab experts, analysts and pundits that predicted the removal of Bill Clinton from the White House. We had to confront it eventually, and the slew of Presidential candidates that lined themselves up for the primaries were such an excruciating bore, we decided to suspend our campaign coverage until the general elections rather than participate in this endless gush of meaningless and boring editorials and opinions.
Telling Asking & Lying
The Official Military Policy
The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue" policy found its origins in a personal vendetta. Scorned and humiliated that another Southern democrat of dubious political pedigree had captured the democratic nomination in 1992, an embittered senator from Georgia, Sam Nunn, embarked on a mission to derail the early Clinton presidency by undermining his authority and embarrassing him by shining a spotlight on his na?t?Ill advised by dangerously inexperienced advisors barely out of school and a military leadership resentful of a draft-dodging, pot-smoking Commander in Chief, Clinton's first real Act as President resulted in the most disastrously confusing policy that to this day is responsible for the death, harassment and anguish of servicemembers gay and straight.
A Letter to Five Senators from Elian Gonzales
Now that I'm over the euphoria from my little excursion to Disneyworld and a slight respite from your impeccably mannered press corps, I have had a moment or two to reflect upon my future and weigh in whether my mother's death by drowning to get me here was worth it in the end.
Oh For Christ's Sake, Lycos!
Whose Jews Should Choose the News?
In a move that has many content providers shaking their heads in astonishment, Lycos, a highly trafficked Internet search destination, a few weeks ago refused to renew an advertisement from the San Francisco based organization, Jews for Jesus, because of "complaints from some in the Jewish community".
God Hates Fags No More!
Free Speech, Hate Speech, Computer Crimes and Benjamin Phelps
Seems like God had a trick or two up his sleeve. Or decided to teach the irreverent Reverend, Fred Phelps, a cyberlesson. Ownership of the controversial web site "www.godhatesfags.com", that Wired News' Steve Silberman once dubbed the "most despised URL on the Net," was transferred to The God Loves Fags Organization - registered owners of the site "www.godlovesfags.com", a site that characterizes itself as "a positive, affirming site that could serve as a resource to gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual and transgendered persons of faith."
"It was stolen " said Benjamin Phelps, the site's creator. "They hacked into my email address and stole my domain." And he's going all the way to the F.B.I. "He hacked into my email address and password and changed all the information"
Talk is Cheap!
Hillary Strikes Back
Dearest Arianna Huffington (and any other pop-psychologists posing as journalists, pundits and columnists):
I recently gave an interview to Tina Brown's new magazine, Talk.
Three Funerals and a Wedding
The Sensationalizing of John Kennedy's Death
The media feeds on people and we in turn feed on the media in a perpetual cycle that becomes more addictive and detrimental to us by the day. Should the media be held accountable for the tragedy that results from the invasion of privacy, or are we as consumers as much responsible? We can never really expect anything else until - most unlikely- the intentions of the media focus on the betterment of mankind rather than the pursuit of revenue. If there's anything to be gained or learnt from the deaths of three people and the cancellation of a wedding, it's to question the lengths to which these families were forced to go to preserve an iota of privacy in the saddest and most difficult of moments.
The Center for Democracy and Technology Claims to Be Looking Out for Your Rights on the Internet
Claiming to "promote democratic values and constitutional liberties in the digital age", the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) is plagued by one of the pitfalls that all too often beset non-profit organizations. They can't afford good attorneys. Their mission statement pertaining to free speech claims "expertise in law, technology, and policy" and "seeks practical solutions to enhance free expression and privacy in global communications technologies." The reality, judging by the material they release, is that their expertise appears more like sub-standard misinformation, their analysis is legally inaccurate, and their approach to technology and policy is dated and out of touch.
Vindictive Op-Ed Victim. Maureen Dowd's Pain.
I'm not a victim. Hillary, Monica... the subject material of my Pulitzer are victims, but not I.
Up until now, I've been doing the victimizing. I've been raining punishment on New York Times readers and beyond. I'm very proud to be the only columnist of our time who owes my success entirely to my reputation as a victimizer of Monica Lewinsky. And it's not as if I was alone in my field!
Mindspring Morons...The Saga Continues...
In the wake of an expose delivered by Wired News, Virginia based Internet service provider Mindspring, was forced to take down their Mindspring Referral Program after annoy.com demonstrated how it was being used to send unsolicited commercial email pushing Mindspring's products and services to innocent Internet users as well as vulgar anonymous messages.
Mindspring or Mindcontrol?
Can Confused Internet Service Providers Kill Free Speech on the Internet?
As government attempts at Internet censorship are challenged in the courts, private corporations are deceitfully using dirty tactics to filter content they find objectionable, often depriving their customers of legitimate communications tools. And no one seems to be noticing.
A recent ad campaign launched by 3Com shows a nude woman clutching nothing but a Palm V handheld Palm Pilot. Of course, we at annoy.com relish the flesh. Our site is full of it. No sooner had the ad campaign launched on billboards and bus shelters, the moral outrage began.
As Yugoslavian as Apple Pie!
We are at war. While annoy.com fights for the right to express opinions unhindered, we do it from comfortable offices, without the fear of bombs being dropped on us, or mass expulsions or ethnic cleansing. Serbs, Albanians, Kosovars...we don't really give a fuck. We don't believe in mass branding of people. There are saints, martyrs and devils of every stripe, color, and ethnicity. For every martyr-like American prisoner of war, there is one that will happily kill and rape a fleeing Albanian refugee. For every Serbian slaughterer there is a gentle kind one that will shield and hide victims (only to be turned into a Steven Spielberg movie one day). And for every well meaning political leader, there is an opportunistic pig who will stop at nothing to assert supremacy in an uncertain world.
Intellectual Property or Just Anti-Intellectual?
An educational institution should be a place where thought, discovery and initiative are applauded and rewarded, not punished. The construction of claremontmckenna.com does not in any way harm Claremont McKenna College, but in fact complements it. Will students looking to prepare themselves for "responsible leadership in business, government, and the professions " be attracted to an institution that treats its trademark as more important than the First Amendment and the innovation and ceativity of its students?
Death Becomes Her
The distinction between mercy killing and doctor assisted suicide is essentially a legal one, and one that places the physician in the position of executing the death rather than orchestrating it. While it is easy for us to digest the notion of trying Jack Kevorkian for first-degree murder, we ought to take a step back and look at the message rather than projecting our collective anxiety about death on to the messenger.
Drop, Drop, Drip, Drip...
And what a spectacle it was. The great showdown came and went with as much dignity as a nun doing cartwheels without her panties. It all began when Congress saw fit to bless the nation by bestowing upon us the most frightening privacy violation in the nation's history, with the release of the illegally taped telephone conversations between Linda Tripp and Monica Lewinsky.
Matthew Shepard: A Call to Arms?
In our rush to canonize Mathew Shepard, let's not lose sight of the language we use and messages we send. Yes, Matthew Shepard's death has been enormously successful in highlighting the senselessness of gay bashing with global proportions a million times more impactful and far reaching than advertisements taken out by so-called Christian groups in national newspapers. The embracing of Matthew Shepard to push an agenda, however, is distasteful and unfair, whether it's to advocate gay marriage or strong-arm legislation unrelated to his killing.
An Apology and a Wink or Three...
Just the other day, I watched a leader say, With forceful angry tone, To let him be alone, An overwhelming lie he'd uttered, Apologetic words he muttered, A nation watched its fragile facade crack.
Of All the Nerve
When CNN/Time retracted their much touted and highly controversial serin gas story, the media were all over it, like a pack of army ants devouring an injured cockroach. Picking it to pieces, media "experts" around the globe solemnly commiserated on the heavy burden the beleaguered news behemoths now faced, and forewarned of a difficult path ahead. A journey imperative to restore the lost remnants of journalistic credibility. They forgot just one thing. It was already lost, irreparably, before the story even broke.
That Woman Them Women
From the Rutheford Institute, the saviors of Paula Corbin Jones, who sent out their subservient troops to enhance her role as a victim, to talk show trash like the CNBC show Hardball's Chris Matthews, the expression "that woman" has become the overused catch phrase for misogynists, apologists and political opportunists anxious to expediently demonstrate how remarkably sensitive they are to the plight of women.
Follow the Leader
The writing is on the wall. The Uniform Code of Military Justice has got to be changed. The policy governing sexual behavior in the military has got to be rewritten. We can no longer allow policies dictating the behavior of millions of men and women to be made by men and women who either haven't ever worn a uniform, or if they have, wore it so long ago that their understanding of the reality of modern life is as astute as the legislation they are introducing and implementing, and, at our considerable expense, enforcing.
The State of the Union: Tabloidism Times
We had a growing sense during the media coverage of OJ just how bad things were getting, and JonBenet, Andrew Cunanan and Diana hit it home so hard that our expectations of the media plummeted even lower. Now, in the face of the President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky rumors, our expectations of the media are about as high as the levels to which we've become accustomed from them. Which is to say, they are all but dead.
Privates, Privacy and Policy
The wave of publicity surrounding the rather unfortunately named and about-to-be discharged Timothy McVeigh is shining a welcome spotlight on an issue that has gone ignored by both mainstream media and First Amendment advocates for years. It all began with a privacy violation which arose when America Online violated both its policy and privacy law in response to the Navy's violation of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue" policy.
People Using People
Why did we choose PEOPLE as our first "Pointing Fingers" feature? Not because they're any better or any worse than any of the others in print, television and on the Internet, but because they do it with such glaring hypocrisy, in full color and on cheap paper. If nothing else, we thank them for proving beyond a reasonable doubt that all the scrutiny the debate over privacy and free press received following the wreck in Paris means absolutely nothing when it comes to selling magazines...or using people.