Saturday, November 25, 2006

Feeding the Conspiracy Beast

Just in case anyone has doubts on new, electronic voting-mahcines, you may want to read this. Who knows?

Friday, November 24, 2006


Here is Sunny Day Real Estate, an old Sub Pop band. This performance is from the Jon Stewart Show-- the old, pre- Daily Show Jon Stewart. The video quality is bad; the audio quality is good.

I saw this when it originally broadcast-- I was an undergrad at the time.

My Contribution to the Holiday Season

Enjoy. "Suzy Snowflake" by Soul Coughing.

What's in a Name II?

But it is not a Civil War.

Who gets to be the person or group to rename this war as a Civil War?

Saturday, November 25th: But it is still not a Civil War.. These are just random acts of sectarian violence that are separating individuals into military factions. See the difference.

What's in a Name?

Ruth Marcus
explores the Republican linguistic turn in the difference between "The Democrat Party" and "The Democratic Party" as used by President Bush in the last election. For example:
The derisive use of "Democrat" in this way was a Bush staple during the recent campaign. "There are people in the Democrat Party who think they can spend your money far better than you can," he would say in his stump speech, or, "Raising taxes is a Democrat idea of growing the economy," or, "However they put it, the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses."

It seems that the use of the word is a way for Republicans to split the elites from the people:
The president isn't alone in his adjectival aversion to "Democratic" when it comes to the party. The provenance of the sneering label "Democrat Party" stretches back to the Harding administration. William Safire traced an early usage to Harold Stassen, who was managing Wendell Willkie's 1940 campaign against Franklin D. Roosevelt. A party run by political bosses, Stassen told Safire for a 1984 column, "should not be called a 'Democratic Party.' It should be called the 'Democrat party.' "
Democrat Party was used, pardon the phrase, liberally by Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy. According to the Columbia Guide to Standard American English, " Democrat as an adjective is still sometimes used by some twentieth-century Republicans as a campaign tool but was used with particular virulence" by McCarthy, "who sought by repeatedly calling it the Democrat party to deny it any possible benefit of the suggestion that it might also be democratic." The word also achieved a prominent run with Bob Dole's especially ugly reference to "Democrat wars" during the 1976 vice presidential debate.

Is this important? From the article:
" 'Democrat Party' is a slur, or intended to be -- a handy way to express contempt.... At a slightly higher level of sophistication, it's an attempt to deny the enemy the positive connotations of its chosen appellation."

Is there another derisive term for Republicans or is it just bad ethos to use this technique in the first place?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Absurdity from the NHL

While watching the Vancouver & Nashville game, the broadcast showed a promo for the Vancouver Canucks. It read:

'We are all Canucks...are you?"

What part of "all" do the Canucks not understand?

What the Hell? In the Spirit of Piling On, Richards-Gate Revisited; Wherein The Liberal Albatross Is Revealed

Well, the after effects of Richards-Gate has now plunged us into yet another unseemly examination of Liberal America's Love Affair with Addressing Hurt Feelings With Lawsuits. A blight of human skin named Gloria Allred (depicted left), a famous "discrimination attorney," has now roped in Richards' victims as clients in her newest attempt to help Conservatives develop their caricature of American Liberals as Lawsuit Loving Pansies.

Here is the pathetic upshot of it all. People like the sycophantic Allred make real liberals' job much harder in this country. Under the guise of "combating discrimination" and "feminism", Allred is really just a manifestation of the "Ambulance Chaser" label that damages the reputations of good trial lawyers like John Edwards who legitimately battle the military/industrial complex in order to compensate victims of insurance fraud, on-the-job injuries, etc.

All of which strongly invigorates Harrogate's recent assertion that this was never about Michael Richards but about the public's need for Moral Preening and to prove its "political correctness" rather than striving for decency.

Don't apologize to us. We won't accept it. But we will take your goddamned money, thank you very much.

So now Richards' "victims" are going to seek money for this? Harrogate is sick and tired of having to acknowledge that American Liberals provide a comfy home for those who would shred free speech through the threat of violence: which is essentially what a Lawsuit of this type is. Richards did a terrible thing. Whatever people want to think of him is their business. But Harrogate will be damned if he's going to stand by and not speak out against this abrogation of the First Amendment just because it seems like the politically correct thing to do. If Michael Richards wants to stand in the middle of Times Square and hurl racial epithets all day long, he's entitled. And so are we entitled to yell back at him.

Let Harrogate be as clear as possible on this. He doesn't give a flying fuck how Doss and McBride "feel" about what happened at that club. There are people out there in this country today, this Thanksgiving, this day of Middle Class Gluttony, people with real problems experiencing real injustices that rich white "liberals" like Allred ignore every day in favor of sexier stories like this. Homeless people. Unemployed people. Sick people with no medical insurance. Etc. These are the people lawyers might want to turn their attention to. Allred's a fucking vulture. And she is welcome to sue Harrogate over this, if it has hurt her feelings, humiliated her, or some other such drivel.

If Doss and McBride have been scarred for life by this experience, Harrogate can only say that this is a testament to their weakness. And again, Allred's a fucking vulture. Any money that comes about as a result of this will be just another weapon for Rethuglicans to use against those of us who are actually concerned with social justice, rather than with simply performing such concern.

I wish this would end... but since it won't

Here is the apology from Michael Richards. Jerry Seinfield appeared on David Letterman and they connected with Michael Richards via satellite for an apology. It is incredibly awkward. I do not know why I looked for it this afternoon. Maybe it is because the Dolphins and Lions are playing. I don't know what I'll do when the Bucs and Lions play to avoid that game.

From what I heard, reaction to this clip was mixed. The audience laughed in the beginning of the clip until Jerry scolded the audience. Richard seemed very disturbed by his actions, though I hear people complained over the lack of his sincerity.

In terms of apologia (speeches of self-defense), he used the following strategies:

(1) Confession: he admits what he did and admits he feels terrible about it. There seems to be no question about this. He later admitted that his type of action is stream of consciousness and the words just flowed.

(2) Control (or lack thereof): Normally, when speakers defend themselves, they try to alter the settings to make them more favorable (Nixon delivers "Checkers" on a studio stage, in front of his desk, with his wife Pat sitting on a couch). Richards stated that this may not be the proper venue for his apologia-- it is a comedy show after all. It does seem odd that he delivered the apologia on the Letterman show when Jerry was the guest. I wonder what the connection is. A negative view is the seventh Season of Seinfeld was just released and this incident may interfere with sales. Syndication of Seinfeld may be another problem since some individuals may no longer be able to watch the show. Regardless, this seems to limit the success of his defense.

(3) Transcendence/ Bolserting: Richards connected this incident within the larger context of race relations and what comics tried to do for race relations (Transcendence), such as comic helping victims of Katrina. However, he lost coherence here and just tried to associate himself with other comics that have helped others (Bolstering- when you identify with things your audience with find favorable though it has little to do with the situation at hand.

The discussion here quickly changes course to what he said in relation to the audience and different audiences. He then pleads he is not a racist though he made comments that could have been considered racist. He seems to lose agency: "it's comes through... it fires out of me."

(4) Confession: Letterman asks if Richards thought by saying something so over the top that it would not be a problem. Richards stated he tried to do that, which seems to show Richards is trying to gain his agency back. Of course, his agency is connected to Letterman's control of the situation (via asking questions). He then discusses how he apologized and how he tried to reach the people he insulted. He was happy the people he insulted went to the press. When asked about what he can do, he has no clear answer of what he can do. Jerry then adds to the conversation and tried to defended Richards.

Overall, he seems sincere about his apology; we can infer this from his repeated confessions about the incident. However, he did not do a good job of picking his venue (he attempts at control were very bad) and he did a poor job of offering redemption (what he could do to fix the problem he created, not that any one person will be able to fix race relations).

Black Republicans, the Smell of Steak, and Forked Anal Tracks

I saw this episode of Dog Bites Man on Comedy Central a few months ago. I still laugh about it today.

I was telling my Father-in-Law about it this morning (he's in town for Thanksgiving). I found a clip of it on YouTube and thought I would also share it with the devoted readers of The Rhetorical Situation.

Enjoy! And Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Feeling it In our Triceps and Calves: Love Actually Countdown Heats Up With a Little Maroon 5

Maroon 5 - Sunday Morning Music Video

The Countdown to the Greatest Pop Song Ever Recorded now begins to heat up on The Rhetorical Situation. Here Maroon 5 tears it up with "Sunday Morning."

Do readers remember what scene in Love Actually features this song?
Harrogate does.

Top Music Albums...

While refusing to do any serious scholarship this morning, I found an advertisement for Time's Top 100 Albums of All-Time. Personally, I always hate these lists because, typically, the criteria used to judge these lists falls to "impact of the album" to "personal choice of person X who needed to write this article as if were going to impact the life of anyone-- and I get the irony-- (For the Time list, I do not even know what the criteria is; they neglect to tell anyone and I am using this only as a conversation starting, which means my apathy took over and I refuse to look for the criteria. And I also get how my ethos is as low as it has ever been with these comments. The joy of the holiday season is overwhelming me.)

Also noteworthy about Time's list is that in the oughts, there is an Elvis album. This seems odd, especially if we judge the album by the impact.

In 2005, Spin released Spin's Top 100 from 1985 - 200.. Spin's criteria: "Because it pushes a unique vision from the margins to the mainstream (or the margins of the mainstream), reshaping both. Until someone new (a Wu-Tang Clan or White Stripes) emerges to redraw the margins all over again. These records tell us something different with every listen; even at their tiniest, they make private epiphanies feel like public events." Their top ten:

10. N.W.A - Straight Outta Compton
9. PJ Harvey - Rid Of Me
8. Prince - Sign O The Times
7. De La Soul - 3 Ft. High And Rising
6. Pixies - Surfer Rosa
5. The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead
4. Pavement - Slanted & Enchanted
3. Nirvana - Nevermind
2. Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation...
1. Radiohead - OK Computer

Reactions to the list? What is included that should not be? What is missing that should be? Why should we care about these lists?

My complaints on Spin's:
U2 - Achtung Baby- The Jushua Tree does not make this list but the decline of U2 is on the list.
Where is Ani DiFranco?
Should this be judged by songs? (Lisa Loeb's "Stay" is missing and this song bridged the gap between indie rock and mainstream alternative almost in the same way that The Singles Soundtrack did.

Why I cannot care about Richards

I'm sorry. I tried. I tried to think real hard about his comments. I tried to put myself in the shoes of others, especially the people in the audience that he insulted. I tried to examine the context of a situation (it was a comedy club-- should we expect civility there?). I tried to think about those who bothered Kramer in the first place while he was performing-- shouldn't they have some repsonsibility and shouldn't they not offend someone? I tried to think about this in terms of fairness-- Why should there be one standard for Kramer and on standard for the audience?

Instead of caring, I am going to post this video: "Dog Police." As you watch it and laugh at it, count the numberr of offensive images in this video. It's sexist. It's racist. There are a few hints of drugs.

Then, think about how we can possibly judge speech by its consequences without limiting almost all speech?

I am not sure if I should thankAndrew Sullivan for this one.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

"How are you gonna make it in this business if you can't take it?"

Richards would have done well to recall the lessons of this episode.

Richards-Gate Redux; Magnolia Theme Revealed; Who's Smoother Than John C. Reilly?

Tough part of the job

This is in Harrogate's view one of the truly great scenes in the history of film. In case there are still those out there wondering what Magnolia is about, here it is, handed to you on a silver platter. Hint: It aint about whether or not the frogs are realistic.

More importantly, the timing of this post will be evident to those who have been following The Rhetorical Situation for the last couple of days.

Reader. In the words of Eric Cartman, "I'm seriously":

What can you forgive?

We Can Feel It In Our Biceps And Thighs: Love Actually Countdown Continues

Kelly Clarkson - The Trouble With Love Is (Live On-Air)

The buildup to the Greatest Pop Song Ever Recorded Continues. Here, we are treated to one of the great Cultural Critics of all time, Ryan Seacrest, introducing Kelly Clarkson, whom all agree is the heir apparent of Janis Joplin.

Watch how the camera pans around to take the Rhetorical concept of Audience into true account. Enjoy this for the Rhetorical Situation it is, Readers. Enjoy.

Richards-Gate III: This Time It's Personal

Now that Harrogate has taken his stand as to separatung the Person (Richards) from the Art (Kramer), it has become necessary to conduct inquiries into how we are all reacting to the Person. In his initial post on this topic, Harrogate threw in with Shakespeare's Sister and, it seems, most everyone else, lambasting Richards as, in short: an asshole. Between then and now, however, Harrogate's views have broadened, he wishes to somewhat retract the harsh snap judgment. And now, to share why.

As commenters have made clear in earlier threads, it is true that Richards revealed an ugly cankerous thing in his soul, that he crossed a line, and that it would have been just as bad had it been done privately. It is also true that his rant reached significantly beyond political incorrectness and into the dark underbelly of racism. So now that's established. But the question we must all ask ourselves remains: whether we are prepared to allow such an incident to define this man for all time, and define him to such an extent that it actually seeps into the character he created years before he did this thing.

Can anyone honestly look Harrogate in the computer screen and say, without a shred of irony, that they have never said a racist thing or thought a racist thought? A sexist thing, a sexist thought? Shall one of Harrogate's readers now posit themselves as wholly innocent of ever harboring a homophobic thought? An anti-Semitic sentiment? And the list goes on, sadly. And Harrogate sticks his neck out and asserts that his Readers share with him a history of mistakes, some small, some grave, some perhaps even worse than what Richards did in that club.

Indeed, perhaps some of you have even said something terrible in public, and someone heard you and then never saw you again, so that forevermore you remained defined by that terrible moment. Nice thought, isn't it?

Humans in general seem to Harrogate a terribly unforgiving lot, especially when it comes to people they don't know very well. But consider this: maybe it's less important to play the gotcha-game of identifying an ugly thing in a person, than it is to see whether or not that person struggles to deal with, to somehow get beyond the ugly thing. And this applies to ourselves. You hear a lot, for example (especially from liberals like Harrogate), about taking care of the poor, about the madness of "war for oil," about this, about that, and about the other. But really, when you look around, you see everyone driving cars, using credit cards, and generally dominated up to their necks by their own little private lives. Everyone Harrogate knows, including Harrogate himself, is firmly in the grip of corporate gluttony, even though most of us fancy ourselves as seeing through "The Machine."

The point of all this being, ostensibly, Jesus's from long ago. To paraphrase: who are any of us to judge Richards based on this one incident even as we all of us are guilty of things just as bad if not worse? the hypocrisy of it all bothers Harrogate a lot. It really does.

But pshaw, enough of such things. Perhaps Richards the man can learn from what he has done, now that he has seen himself capable of such an ugly thing, perhaps from there he can heal. Must he, really, be pariahed as a racist from now until doomsday because of this incident? Each must search their own heart.

Richards has apologized. Who will stand and give him benefit of the doubt? It will be interesting to see what comes of this.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Richards-Gate Reconsidered: A Defense of Poetry

All the news networks are picking this up now, Harrogate just watched MSNBC air the fateful Richards clip during "Tucker." Harrogate won't bother to link to Richards' actual tirade: those interested can find it easy enough.

Because to link the video would be to violate the brilliant point Harrogate is about to make.

There is a great deal of truth to what claymation says in the comments section of the first post on Richards-Gate. There is the Idea of Cosmo Kramer and that idea is not at all beholden to the actions of Michael Richards the man. So that whether he was all liquored up as claymation hopefully suggests, or whether he's just a garden variety asshole racist bigot (as Shakes and Harrogate have both implied in earlier posts)--either way, Harrogate says, the Idea of Cosmo Kramer is safely tucked away in the inviolable land of Art.

No, Harrogate's not a New Critic, in case any nerdy lit-crit trolls are lurking, though he does think there's, in general, too much obsession with biography, anecdote, and the petty like in art studies of all kinds. Harrogate is saying he doesn't see any more reason to allow Richards' actions to contaminate our vision of Cosmo Kramer than there is, say, to hold Harrogate's boring personality against his "breathtakingly electric writing" (New York Times), or to confuse Curt Schilling's glorious split-finger fastball with his terrible politics. Remember, readers, only shortly after Schilling's "bloody sock" heroism of 2004, he was out on the campaign trail stumping with George W. Bush. Doesn't make the Sox victory any less sweet. For all Harrogate cares, all these people we put in front of cameras might be assholes. But it's not for themselves that we care. It's for the actions, the ideas, the Poetry they project, that we care in the first place.

Devastating Link for Seinfeld Fans Everywhere

Harrogate just encountered this from Shakespeare's Sister only moments ago.

Oh, Michael Richards, previously caretaker of one of the most lovable icons in television history: how can you do us this way? Shakes herself puts it best:

What a fucking asshole. Nice job being an offensive, hateful schmuck—and thanks a shitload for ruining one of my favorite shows. I’ll never be able to watch an episode of Seinfeld again without thinking about that loathsome tirade—and I certainly won’t be completing my collection of the series on the DVD, lest another penny of my money end up in his pocket.

Among The Many Morals To Be Gleaned From This Violation Of What Was Once An Unambiguously Warm and Fuzzy Rhetorical Situation: Getting to "know" celebrities as people almost always leads to no good. TBS "Very Funny" just took a major hit in Harrogate's rubric. Though still, he retains his unconditional love for George.
Statement Gone Awry?

First off, despite striking similarities in attire, facial hair, and stride, the man buying the PS3 in this clip is NOT Harrogate. Though it may be a sibling.

Basically, as you can see from the clip, these guys buy a new PS3 on opening day and proceed to destroy it right in front of the "fanboys" lined up to overpay for their own. For those of you not up on the most recent gaming consoles, the Playstation 3 which released last week. There are two versions Basic (for $499) and Premium (for $599). Further, since the recent trend is to undersupply, there is a big demand. The average launch-day price of the systems on Ebay was an eye-popping $2600.

Now to the clip and their accompanying website...

When I first saw the news item, I admired the moxy and the statement I thought they were making (despite also giving Sony their 500-600 bucks). The Marxist in me revelled not only at the destruction but the resistance to the corporate teat of entertainment. That video games, freaking video games are approaching $1000 bucks retail and that people still line up and pay through the nose for it.

However, the website suggests something else. At best, they seem to want to irritate the fanboys with "senseless destruction." While I appreciate their willingness to poke sharp sticks at idiots, there is no message other than "Look! We are destroying what you covet! There is now one fewer console to buy and that doesn't mean anything since my purchase takes it out of circulation whether I destroy it and let is slowly suck my brain power for hours on end." Now, if they smashed other peoples, now there's a statement. (My sense from the website and clip is that they are trying to get others to also commit PS3-icide and they do refer to updated videos but honestly I don't see them getting many takers.)

In the FAQ to their website, they ask for donations to commit their act (again watering the statement) AND ensure their potential donors that they will just not steal the money and take the PS3 by pointing out that they will make WAY more money off the video and advertising. In the immortal words of Scooby-Doo: "Scraggy!?!" They're not lashing out against the corporate baker, they are standing at the back entrance begging for a slice of the pie.

So close...and yet...actually not close at all.

At the very least, perhaps we can all take some voyeuristic pleasure in the act of destruction itself.


P.S. If anyone has $600, I could really go for a PS3.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Church Signs II: More Inflammatory Comments, Wherein Barak Obama is Associated With Satan and Rick Warren Proven a Decidedly Minority Voice

Late last week, Harrogate and Mommy PhD began a discussion about the fairness of Harrogate's play with church signs. In this discussion Rick Warren, a famous evangelical who uses his pulpit to stand for issues of social justice as opposed to the "red meat" political issues beloved by the GOP, figured centrally. In that discussion, too, Harrogate linked to a blog post by a blight of human skin named Kevin McCullough, who is "outraged" at Senator Barak Obama's appearance at Warren's congregation under the auspices of looking for solutions to the AIDS pandemic in Africa.

Today McCullough expanded his excoriation by going nationwide in print syndication,
once again nicely channeling The Rhetorical Situation whereby GOP dominance of over 60% of the evangelical vote is perpetrated. One can learn a lot by reading McCullough's article. That's why Harrogate links to it.

Some of Harrogate's favorite passages from this "argument":
By scriptural standards Rick Warren is to be bound by the biblical text and its teaching on morality. Obama would pursue and has pursued mass distribution of condoms. If you say to a society, as Uganda has, that the only way to be sure of not getting AIDS is through "abstinence until marriage" then they will be likely to believe you. (It's scientifically provable. And it explains Uganda's unique improvement on the African continent in numbers of people contracting the virus.) On the other hand if you say to a culture, as has happened in more than one African nation, "try abstinence - but if you can't remain abstinent then use a condom" what do you think the likely outcome will be?

and then
Barack Obama is likely to run for president in 2008 and speaking from the pulpit of one of America's most well known evangelical churches is likely to be footage that could be used over and over in trying to dissuade Christians from thinking about moral issues that real Christians truly feel concern for.

and then there's a very classy impetus for stalking:

It may be too late to alter a stubborn heart or mind at Saddleback Church, but the effort should at least be made. So I am encouraging you to do what my listeners have done for the past several days call Rick Warren and ask him why Barack Obama's evil worldview will be given the high honor of addressing the faithful. (949.609.8000 or

(note McCullough isn't quite open enough to discourse to provide his own telephone number so that non-bigots who read his work can call him to remind him what a fucking dangerous moron he is).

But there you have it, Readers. Evangelicals in this country have earned the stereotype to which Harrogate's recent signs point. Majorities of them keep voting Republican, keep insisting that arcane passages from Leviticus are more important than the words and teachings of Christ himself, keep listening to douchebags like Dobson, Falwell, McCullough, and George W. Bush. So long as these numbers hold, the Rick Warrens of the world don't get to be held as representative of anything but a minority voice, no matter how "famous" they may otherwise be. Barbara Streisand is famous and widely beloved, too, but that doesn't make her worldview normative. Harrogate wishes such voices well, however, and holds out a shred of hope that perhaps someday it will be the McCulloughs that are seen for the drooling fanatics that they are, and the Warrens and Mommy PhD's as representative.