Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Palin Puts Out for the Cause

Uncomfortable interview with new teenage prevention advocate Bristol Palin, who argues that while her child is "awesome" and a "blessing," abstinence is the only way to go.  You can do a fun drinking game with this one: a drink for every time  you hear the words:

1. awesome
2. a blessing
and a big drink when the interviewer says 
3. "the sex"  

Why are we making this poor girl do this?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Day 5: Jonesin'

Blood Pressure: Elevated

So the first real thing I've learned during five days of this experiment is how my media consumption is really a deeply programmed part of my behavior. I don't read the Huffington Post; every 30 minutes or so, I initiate a motion that summons content from the website, which I scan for updates and only occasionally read. This action is a ritual I perform maybe 20 times a day, when I need a break from work or a moment of solitude.

It's similar to the semi-nightly practice of watching the Olberman/Maddow podcasts when they become available, creating 90 minutes of assured stillness in an otherwise complicated life. The same goes with radio and newspaper. The content is equal (if not secondary) to the very custom of consuming media.

Going cold turkey is rough.

I see that link to up on my browser toolbar and I my mouse arrow just automatically drifts towards it. It's a revealing track of media addiction and confirms a fear that I'm not thinking too hard about selecting news sources and the ideas I put into my head.

But breaking those habits is only one part of the problem. I'm also struggling with reprogramming these routines to accept new junk. I can't make heads or tails of It's got a foreign interface and funny names like Nordlinger. I didn't know you had to pay for full podcasts of Bill O'Reily--what the hell is with that? And who gave the interface designers a long, long vacation over at

It doesn't take a genius to figure this stuff out, but I've been shooting some familiar media narcotic for many years and have trails to show for it. It's proving as hard to kick my established habit as it is to develop a taste for a new one.

But I'm currently traveling for work and the free New York Times is stacking up by the door of my hotel room. By the time I board the plane home I should be fully detoxified. And ready for a glass pipe full of Michelle Malkin.

Quote of the day: Tapping into the emerging "the census is a Big Brother program that must be resisted" storyline, here's a taste of American Daily Review's take on the use of GPS: "The Obamites, thirsty to serve their new messianic figure, have lost enough of their objectivity to be willingly recruited into such an insidious program like gaining these coordinates for the U.S. Government."

Thing that made me go "hmmm": Maybe handing over a majority ownership of Chrysler to the United Auto Workers and canceling 75 percent of the value of bond holders isn't really fair. But without access to reliable outside sources, I won't know until June 1.

Banned From Britain

Michael Savage will not be having tea with HRM anytime soon -- though who wants to sip earl gray with that gray elitist anyway. 

Interesting idea though: Is it good policy for countries to ban hate mongers? And who decides what's hate speech and what's free speech (thinking of a certain Iranian visiting a certain Ivy League recently)

Monday, May 4, 2009


Is the Santa Cruz Sentinel reading -- and stealing -- from our blog? We had this story on Friday.

Daily poll:

What kind of normal person wants to go stand out in public shouting things? -- Glenn Beck

Which word is scarier:

--Nutritional Ethnomedicine (what Michael Savage has a PhD in

Poll Dancing

OK, so the only thing I know for sure is that journalism schools have to do a better job at educating media folks on how to use polling numbers.....

Editorial from Washington Times: 
According to Gallup's April survey, Americans have a lower approval of Mr. Obama at this point than all but one president since Gallup began tracking this in 1969... Mr. Obama's popularity after 100 days is the second-lowest for a simple reason: He is more partisan and divisive than his predecessors - including Richard Nixon.

In recent days, several media figures and outlets have falsely claimed that President Obama's approval rating at this point in his presidency, according to Gallup, is lower than that of most or all recent presidents. The falsehood is based on an apples-to-oranges comparison between an April 20-21 Galluppoll question that asked respondents to "rate the job Barack Obama has been doing as president so far -- excellent, good, just okay, poor, or terrible," and the historical results of the traditional Gallup approval rating poll question that simply asked whether respondents "approve" or "disapprove" of the president's performance. Based on its traditional presidential approval poll question, Gallup itself recently reported that Obama's average approval rating for the first quarter of his first year in office is the highest of any president since 1969 other than Jimmy Carter, and Obama's most recent weekly average approval rating is higher than the April approval ratings of every first-term president since 1969 other than Ronald Reagan.

Savage Roots

So I didn't know that Michael Savage has a PhD from Berkeley in Nutritional Ethnomedicine. Or that he used to buddy around with The Beats. (Though it doesn't surprise me that he was born a Wiener... oh, I mean Weiner, as in Michael Weiner). ... 

I found out about the PhD while listening to him, uh, discuss how "illegal immigrants" were giving us the swine flu while they built our houses and took our children to school. He knows about this because of his degree, he says, so trust him.

Which made me wonder: Why bring out your credentials in one moment to make your audience trust you -- and then in the next breath deride the educated members of the government to make your audience trust you. This makes no sense. How do we tell the righteous experts from the elitist ones? What a wiener. 


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Stuck on a Plane with G. Gordon Liddy

Slow weekend for Seeing Red. But I'm about to fly across the US with G. Gordon Liddy on my iPod. Should be grand. Next up: a review of the conservative talk second team (I'm looking at you Mark Levin).

UPDATE! - Again, underwhelmed by the low level of craziness here. G Man comes off as doddering and talk veered towards medical matters (back pain, hospital visits, medications). Some incomprehensible breakdown of the Chrysler bankruptcy (verdict: will be more complicated than we're being told). But the only real jolt came in a conversation about Justice Souter's replacement, when Liddy described the potential nomination of a Latino supreme court justice the selection of an "illegal alien judge". Classy.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Day 1: Uh, is this it?

Blood Pressure: Mostly Normal

Maybe it was my high expectations for insanity, maybe it was just a slow Friday, or maybe the conservative arts are so subtle that they escape me, but I am thoroughly underwhelmed by my first day of right wing media saturation. Rush Limbaugh spent a lot of the time advising some hapless freelance consultant (read: unemployed dude) build a campaign strategy against his local congressman--with whom he totally agreed. Sean Hannity worked with some sidekick financial advisers to help listeners guard against the possibility ("Though it's no guarantee...we could find some way through this...") of inflation. YAWN!

Sure, there were passing references to creeping Socialism. And Rush did tell stories about how he turned on every light in his house during Earth Hour ("I will not be a sheep. I am not a lemming"). But the only real shock I received during the 5+ hours of conservative radio I listened to today was a snippet of the Charlie Daniels Band's crazy, crazy reactionary country hit "Simple Man". If you're too lazy (or too busy watching public television) to click the link, here's a lyrical sample:

And I'm madder than hell and I ain't gonna take it no more
We tell our kids to just say no
And then some panty waist judge lets a drug dealer go
And he slaps him on the wrist and he turns him back out on the town
Well, if I had my way with people sellin' dope
I'd take a big tall tree and a short piece of rope
And hang 'em up high and let 'em swing till the sun goes down

So, I'm going to give Charlie Daniels the benefit of the doubt and believe the drug dealer he's imagining in this song is some cracker, cooking meth in his backwoods trailer park. I'm sure that guy deserves to by lynched.

One bit of chat I couldn't reconcile. Rush reminisced for 10 minutes about the $10k Rolex he bought without a second thought while on some Carnival cruise in the Caribbean. A sign he had really made it. But Hannity went on and on about how recently he was buying his suits at the thrift shop and how few pairs of pants he has. Both stories are apocryphal for sure, but what is up with the confusion here? Are these two tag-teaming the remaining Republican constituencies: the insanely rich and aggrieved rural poor? I know this is a small one-day sample, but perhaps this is a glimpse of that political formula that has marginalized the Republican party from mainstream America. Maybe it was an off day.

Quote of the day: "SUVs are big and powerful and they burn a lot of gas, and I love that." Rush Limbaugh

Thing that made me go "hmmm": Gold could be a sound investment. A couple more weeks and I could be investing all of my loose change in precious metals.

Today's most popular Washington Times story

CURL: Obama looks back in anger
The cerebral president, who most recently shook hands with America-hater Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and plans talks with nuke-happy Iranian leaders, was content to muse philosophically: "Could we have gotten that same information without resorting to these techniques?"

Note of interest:  Do Barack and Michelle share a speech writer?
Obama on keeping America safe "That's the responsibility I wake up with and it's the responsibility I go to sleep with."
Michelle on her kids "they're the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning, and the last thing I think about when I go to bed at night." 

Blather, Rinse, Repeat

"...the advance of Socialism and the weakening of our national defense."

trademark that motherfucker. I think I've heard it 10+ times in an hour of Hannity.

Judge for Yourself

Results from Washington Times poll (so far)....  Full disclosure: I am one of the 210

Are you glad that President Obama will soon have a Supreme Court justice to nominate?
Yes15%210 votes
No82%1138 votes
Undecided1%25 votes
Other0%12 votes
1385 total votes

Buyer Beware

Where are the regular people? -- Glenn Beck

I am totally intrigued by the ads so far -- which seem to be selling security. Because I should be investing in gold and non-hybrid seeds in order to keep my family safe.  Actually, I am kind of into the non-hybrid seed thing, but more from a position of let's keep food safe for everyone out there. 

Daily Poll

what is more annoying?
__Bill O'Reilly

__Keith Olbermann's impression of Bill O'Reilly

Santa Cruz Gets Shout Out On Rush!

Re: the upcoming Panetta Institute lecture series in Monterey, CA where Karl Rove will soon be appearing:

"If you really want to get people to throw pies and shoes, just go up the road to Santa Cruz. Do the event at UC Santa Cruz."

I agree with Rush.
There is nothing wrong with having a liberal beliefs system.
-- Bill O'Reilly Talking Points 4/30

Two things I am thinking about after watching Mr. O'Reilly's daily Talking Points. 

1.  There was a heavy emphasis on "evil." There is a real belief among conservatives that liberals don't understand evil. I do think it's one of the big differences between the two mindsets. Personally, I believe that evil is not something you are, but something you do. Usually after life has screwed you over royally, again and again. If I really thought that someone could just be born "evil," I never would have had a child.  

2. I am suspicious of polls cited on conservative media. After Bill cited a poll by Rasmussen, I immediately looked up the polling firm to see what Wikipedia had to say about it, only to find that analysis showed Rasmussen Reports as the most accurate national polling firm in Election 2008. Even so, this kind of critical eye is good - anytime we are given numbers we should look at them and try to figure out how accurate they are. Note to self: Question numbers when they come from liberal news as well. I went to journalism school. Even beyond their bias,journalists are really bad with numbers.

It's On!

Listening to Rush Limbaugh while reading the WSJ editorial page. Still a bit of a novelty at this point. But good news fodder with the Justice Souter announcement and Arlen Specter's betrayal. Haven't encountered any May Day celebrations of the new American Socialism, but the day is still young. More to come.

Do I Really Sound Like That?

You’re starting to sound like a Republican.

I’ve been told this once or twice by Liberal loved ones so it’s clearly not a compliment. The last two times I’ve been thus accused it’s after I’ve offered my opinion on a topic having to do with raising my daughter.

For example, I think that to make a school great, you need a strong community to be involved day in an day out – not a big government to enforce state testing. I guess this could sound a lot like a conservative’s push for local control of public school districts.

And perhaps I do get a bit Security Mom-ish when I start thinking about the future and how many non-hybrid seeds I should buy so that I can feed my family. You know, after the apocalypse happens and all that.

But really, what does a Republican even sound like? It’s hard to know when you grow up in a left-leaning family then go on to study women’s studies at UC Santa Cruz (followed by a move to New York City! Oy!)…. I begin the morning with Huff Post and coffee, donate regularly to Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign, and have taken my daughter with me to protest against those parental notification laws for abortion and Prop 8. Though she was embarrassed when I started yelling “I love gay people!” out my car window as we drove through a Yes on 8 march in San Jose.

I digress. Get used to it. It’s a secular progressive thing. All the drug use and abortions have addled our brains. My point is this: I want to spend my 31-days really hearing who conservatives are and what they sound like. Where are the places that ultra-liberal meets ultra-conservative – and what can be learned from those intersections? I’m going to be paying special attention to the gender issues. What is women’s role in conservative media? How are they portrayed? What topics are they most concerned about? And am I really starting to sound like that?

If nothing else, I should be able to glean a few choice right-wing arguments that will really piss my brother off next time the family gets together for a peace rally or something.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dividing and Conquering Right Wing Media

I'm not really a football fan...

(isn't watching this "sport" a pastime of lumpen-proletariat-ville; you know, like fans of the SuperBowl champion San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants, Chicago Bears, and New England Patriots? Sorry, I'm working through a desnarkification cleanse in advance of tomorrow.)

...but I understand that coaches have to submit their rosters to the league a certain time before the start of each game. Consider this our red state media lineup for game day (which, if you haven't noticed the irony, is May Day).

So here you go. We've both replaced the media we regularly consume with a conservative counterpart. Enjoy!

The Huffington Post:
The New York Times: The Washington Times
Keith Olberman: Bill O'Reilly
NPR: Glen Beck

Think Progress/Talking Points Memo:
Wall Street Journal (I swear, I just read the articles): The Wall Street Journal
Rachel Maddow: Sean Hannity
Democracy Now!: Rush Limbaugh (someone has got to do it...)

We'll make short posts throughout the day, and do a major blood pressure check before bed. As you read, please let us know if we've gone off the reservation for good. I'm sure we'll need a bit of a reality check here and there. My safety word is "Feingold".

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Why I'm Seeing Red

Blame it on the teabaggers.

I live in a coastal redwood forest on the outskirts of the godless left wing hippie fantasyland known as Santa Cruz, CA. When I went to university here in the mid-90s (modern lit, natch), Bob Dole used one of my classes (Violence in American Film) to underscore a point about the immorality of the media and the failures of a liberal arts education. My classmates and I were thrilled, and celebrated UCSC's concomitant cameo in Pulp Fiction, also a target of Dole's ire.

Once I graduated, I lived for 14 years in Gomorrah (New York) and Sodom (San Francisco) where I was surrounded by all manner of subversion, transgression, flamboyance, and great parties. I only considered the existence of America's conservative movement while I prepared for a visit to my parents in Orange County, CA. Or if Fox News was left playing on a T.V. at the gym. And the media I consumed reflected this fact--I drift comfortably in a country club pool of NPR, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, etc., all perfectly set to 98.6 degrees.

But the teabaggers gave me pause. I laughed along when Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow compared these well-funded, lobbyist-organized tax day protesters as an "astroturf" response to Barack Obama's grassroots-driven presidential campaign. Surely, these demonstrations are the stuff of church parking lots in remote regions of the country. But there they were, a few dozen libertarian-bent elder teabaggers, chanting outside the post office in downtown Santa Cruz. What the hell is THAT about?

It occurred to me that I had fixed in my mind some lunkheaded, xenophobic right-wing grotesque and applied it liberally across the entire conservative landscape. Surely a Santa Cruz teabagger must be a more complex creature. Some of these guys wore tie dye, for God's sake. Maybe there were others out there who defied my notion of conservative foot soldier.

Coincidentally, my wife Kate had just herself started listening to Glen Beck and Michael Savage while driving between Whole Foods, book club, the DMV, and other effete liberal destinations. She assured me that I should not be so circumspect.

So we agreed to consume nothing but right wing media for the month of May. The only national news source allowed is the Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal. Beyond that, only a cloud of punditry, AM radio, and Chuck Norris. The only mainstream news we're allowing ourselves will be the source material linked from The Drudge Report,, and the like. We hope this effort will answer a few questions:

1) Are hardcore conservatives really as crazy as we assume they are? Just checking.
2) Could our prejudices about the conservative movement be preventing us from seeing legitimate and important policy solutions from the Right?
3) Does the media universe that serves the conservative movement give a full enough account of current events to allow listeners to make an informed decision?
4) Does the tone and presentation of conservative media provoke an emotional response that makes the content more persuasive?

We'll see. More to come on the details, but this thing kicks off on Friday. Right now, I'm drinking yerba mate and nibbling tempeh to strengthen my system--because come Friday, it's nothing but red meat for me.