Friday, February 29, 2008

Objectivity: The myth

I was party to an interesting debate today regarding the issues of practicing journalists offering their opinions to the world outside the boundaries of their workplaces. More specifically, a fellow colleague of the trade expressed a certain degree of surprise that I would put my views out for the world to see, given that I am a journalist and a certain expectation exists that I remain an objective member of the journalistic community.

What ensued was a very constructive discussion that spanned a spectrum of viewpoints. One participant believes a journalist should have no participation in any sort of political debate or movement, and he totally rules out the idea of signing petitions or waving any sort of political colors. His argument made me think a lot about my stance on the subject, and my motivations and purpose on this blog.

First, some history. When I first entered journalism school as an idealistic, bright-eyed participant in an establishment that I view as vital to our democracy, I swore off any political leanings and influences. I was, by definition, the Ultimate Nonpartisan, a simple observer who took his duty of viewing and reporting the facts to a level verging on ludicrous. I maintained this illusion of complete objectivity for about as long as it took me to realize that this society -- and arguably, this entire world -- is not that black and white.

In a broad sense, objectivity simply doesn't exist. Everything we do as journalists, from word choice to story selection to emphasis on certain elements, is inherently based on a bias of some sort. For instance, why do stories about genocides in Africa get rendered to the back pages, while Britney Spears takes center stage? It's a perceived bias that people are more interested in superficiality than reality, and the media is happy to tap that hunger.

You can also take it one step further. For the most part, a journalist can either write a story people will want to read, or one that is theoretically free of bias. Why? Because language is inherently nonobjective. For proof of this, just scour the newspaper every day and question why certain words were used over others (why a reporter choose the word "criticize" instead of "disagree," for instance). Certain judgments are made by reporters -- how important was the event? How harshly was something criticized? -- and that makes anything contained in a story technically biased. It simply can't be avoided.

The other option is to write a story that is free of any kind of loaded word or phrase, but it would take hours and hours and would be bland to the point of absurdity. In my experience, readers are willing to sacrifice complete linguistic objectivity for a little flavor. And I think generally that's an accepted trade off.

With that in mind, the important issue in journalism is not OBJECTIVITY but FAIRNESS, and the question we should be asking is whether a story takes an appropriate look at both sides of the issue, and especially whether a story is accurate. These two factors greatly outweigh any question of whether a reporter is inherently objective, because as long as a story is fair, the reporter can harbor any personal opinion her or she deems worthy. I think you will find that, because objectivity is impossible, no reporter can achieve the feat of being completely unbiased. But many, many reporters can say they are fair and accurate.

If you look at the history of objectivity, it's not exactly an original belief in the world of journalism, as Robert McChesney writes in "The Problem of the Media." Prior to the 1900s, journalism was the epitome of opinionated thought -- every publication had its viewpoint, and to get the full spectrum of an issue, one would just read all the newspapers. After the 1900s, however, something interesting happened: Corporatism stepped in, and people started to realize the monetary opportunities of the media. Companies began to consolidate, grow bigger, and as a natural result of capitalism, the number of newspapers decreased steadily.

The problem was nobody would accept this new world of journalism, where fewer and fewer publications existed, if they all remained so blatantly partisan. Thus, the idea of "objectivity" was invented to justify the shrinking marketplace, and it became the gold standard for journalism schools. Technically, objectivity is an invention of corporate thought, and a justification for people to have fewer opinions to consume. To sell media conglomeration, people were tricked to believe that objectivity was not only possible but expected.

I could go on for hours about this, but I'm digressing from my main question: Should journalists feel justified in expressing their opinions in a public forum outside the workplace? As I said before, my belief when I first entered J-school was that neutrality in all realms of life was the only ethical path. But as I came to realize, we as journalists don't stop being human just because we have taken a symbolic oath to maintain our integrity in the context of our work. We don't stop having opinions because we chose a path of long hours, little pay and the much larger responsibility of fairly and accurately portraying the news to the public. I came to realize that the real challenge was not maintaining this illusion that I had no opinions, but maintaining a strong sense of character and ethics that is required when you leave your opinions at the door of the workplace. I realized that distinguishing between my opinions on my own time and my opinions when I work was the strongest trait I could possess as a journalist.

I ran with that. I honed that. And I'm happy to say I've developed a strong sense of where to draw the line. I have a firm grip on my own views about the world -- as you can see from this blog, they are quite strong -- and my duty as a journalist to allow readers of a publication to form their own opinions, as I have. I don't want to influence anybody from the perch of the media, which is extremely powerful in guiding thought, because I respect the rights of others to make their own judgments. My views are my views, and they are not shared by everybody. If they were, my world would be a very boring place. But if you think about it, journalists are in a very unique position to be opinionated. We read a lot. We know who believes what. We've seen the arguments. We know what's going on in the world. Who better to weigh in on the why of the world?

The question was raised during our debate about whether it is hypocritical of me to criticize KEZI for inserting partisan politics into a broadcast when I sit down on this blog every night and put forth my opinion, given that I, too, am a journalist. No it doesn't, I argued, because you won't find any relation between this blog and where I work; in fact, I don't mention it at all. I don't blog in an official capacity as a journalist at my respective workplace. I blog in the official capacity that I am an informed journalist concerned about the world, and maybe I have something interesting to say.

As I made clear to my friends, I will never stop expressing my opinion, and I will never stop doing it in public. Even if it became an issue at my workplace, I would fight vehemently for my First Amendment rights. But, given that, they did raise some very interesting points about a journalist's role in the world, and the appropriateness of a journalist expressing an opinion on a public forum. I took their thoughts to heart. It won't change my ways, but as always I'm open to their viewpoints.

And isn't that what makes a great journalist?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I'm humbled by the Internet

On a more light-hearted note as the world continues its downward spiral, I'm pretty sure Garfield minus Garfield is the best, most relevant place currently on the Internet.

Especially this one.

Farther into the rabbit hole

The Register-Guard did a very revealing story on the Rick Dancer saga today (see last post). The revelation I found most astounding is that Dancer wrote the lead-in to the "story" on Sunday's broadcast announcing his own campaign for secretary of state (a lead-in is the TV news equivalent to the lead in a newspaper story, although I shudder to say "TV news" "newspaper" and "equivalent" in the same sentence).

I guess the average person might not find this tidbit particularly interesting, but if you analyze the structure of Dancer's politically motivated broadcast, I think you'll understand my extreme nausea at the whole affair.

If you watch the announcement, KEZI made it look as if Dancer was innocently invited onto the show as an anchor who spent many years at the station and felt he needed to explain his departure. Dancer's method was very clever: He even went as far as to tell the real anchor, Holly Menino, that it was now "her show." But basically the only talking Menino did through the whole piece before Dancer extrapolated on all his various community feats was to introduce him. And by writing the lead-in for the segment, Dancer wasn't exactly disconnected from the story, as KEZI hoped to impress on its hapless viewers.

The things is, most viewers aren't that hapless. They pay attention to shady ethics and media-meets-politics shenanigans. The worst mistake a news outlet can make is to assume its viewers or readers aren't smart enough to pick up on bullshit. Unfortunately, KEZI combined the two things people hate most -- the media and politicians -- and attempted to appear legitimate. It also doesn't help that Carolyn Chambers, the owner of KEZI, is a longtime Republican contributor, and Rick Dancer happens to be a Republican as well.

One more thing I found hilarious: Dancer told Menino that it was now her show as if he were passing the torch. But Dancer didn't do the news at 11, at least when I worked there. He anchored the 5 and 6.

Here's the first part of the RG story (click here to read the whole thing):

When Rick Dancer announced his campaign for the secretary of state’s office in a three-minute spot at the top of the 11 o’clock newscast on KEZI 9 on Sunday, he got the kind of exposure politicians can only dream about.

Dancer himself wrote the lead-in, answered questions from colleague Holly Meninoand was allowed to speak about his candidacy without editing.

“This is the official announcement,” said Dancer, a news anchor at the station for 19 years. “Nobody gets to beat me with the official announcement because it’s our station.”

This unusual mixture of journalism and politics highlights issues of fairness, journalistic independence and equal-time requirements that can be invoked by the Federal Communication Commission’s equal opportunity laws and rules.

Although Dancer didn’t say so during his announcement, he is running for the statewide office as a candidate for the Republican Party, with the support of the party. Top-level Republicans were at the studio the night Dancer announced.

KEZI is owned by Chambers Communications, and the chief executive officer of Chambers Communications, Carolyn Chambers, is a long-standing contributor to Republican causes at the local, state and federal levels. She has given more than $90,000 to federal-level Republican candidates and causes since 1994, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. She has also donated 2,000 square feet of office space to the Lane County Republican Central Committee each month since April 2007, according to state campaign finance records.

Carolyn Chambers could not be reached for comment.

Monday, February 25, 2008

KEZI News: Not exactly the last bastion of ethical journalism

* Full disclosure alert: I used to work at the "news" outlet that I'm about to savagely degrade as a shining star in the universe of bad decisions. Also, the subject of my rant is a former colleague whose work I generally respect, or as far as respect can go when it comes to TV news *

In a painful lesson of journalism ethics, Rick Dancer, a now-former anchor at KEZI News here in Eugene, announced his own candidacy for secretary of state on the evening news, complete with a highlight tape of himself that included various community-oriented events in which he participated. The excuse for the tape was his imminent retirement from the station after some 16 years. But as for his coverage of his own candidacy during a news program, I have yet to hear any excuses, most likely because it is inexcusable.

Allow me to offer a parallel example for the newspaper industry. Imagine if a veteran reporter from The Daily Shitpile decided it was time to call it quits and run for state governor. He decides that all those years of dedication and loyalty to his craft and his publication have afforded him a bit of publicity, so he writes a story about his own candidacy and slaps it on the front page of his own newspaper. Does this seem even remotely legitimate? Can any argument be made to justify that?

An analysis of this ethical dilemma brings up two main issues. The first, obviously, is that reporting on yourself is generally a bad idea when your ultimate goal in modern American journalism is to deliver a fair portrayal of a given situation. Clearly, if you are conveying a story about yourself, you generally won't be too savvy about including any other viewpoints. So unless you are practicing Gonzo journalism, which nobody should ever attempt because they will fail miserably in the shadow of Hunter S. Thompson, reporting on yourself is the pinnacle of amateur journalism at best, and at worst a complete violation of all established ethical guidelines.

The second problem is newsworthiness. It would seem that the first Republican to throw his hat into the ring for secretary of state is reasonably big news, especially for a Sunday night. But Dancer led the whole news hour with his story, which is basically like telling your viewers that your candidacy is the most important news of the day. Forgive me, but I don't think 16 years can buy that kind of presumption. In fact, a lifetime in journalism can't buy it.

The sad part about this whole spectacle is how easily it could have been avoided. For instance, the co-anchor for the Sunday broadcast could have done the ENTIRE story on Dancer's run for office, complete with an assurance to viewers that he was not involved in the story. And when I say the entire story, I don't mean introducing Rick Dancer and letting him pitch his campaign, like KEZI did. Then, later in the broadcast, Dancer could appear to do his farewell and show his tape of reporting highlights over the years -- but outside the context of his run for office.

I respect Rick Dancer. I think he has a wide body of work in TV news, which I admittedly despise, but he is a genuinely nice guy and solid journalist whose views I don't wholly disregard as insane. When he described his politics to a reporter for The Register-Guard, he portrayed himself as a moderate Republican who believes in traditional conservative values of small government and self-reliance. He is also a very religious man but has stated that his faith is something he will continue to keep out of his public life if elected. I can respect his religious and political viewpoints, even if I disagree, because he does not strike me as a hysterical Republican evangelical.

I respect Rick Dancer, but beyond that I view KEZI as a fucking tragedy. If Shakespeare wrote a play about the organization, the protagonists would most likely end up beating each other to death after four of five acts of low-quality squabbling. In the future, I truly hope the station will think twice before airing such a stupidly unethical piece of journalism, but I know in my heart that any hope of that will be relegated to some dank hall of misplaced dreams, much like where KEZI keeps a majority of its staff.

To see the announcement: Click here!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ralph Nader: Not quite as ugly as Kucinich

Hey Nader: We don't forgive you.

We don't forgive you for indirectly destroying the hopes and dreams of all Americans who aren't swimming in sweet, sweet pools of Bush's tax-cut money. We don't forgive you for refusing to drop your bid for president in 2000, despite assurances that you would most likely swing the election for Bush, a neoconservative industrialist (in the loosest sense of the word) bent on world domination. A man who has started two wars that have killed more than 3,000 U.S. soldiers, along with hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in multiple countries. A man who has shit on the Constitution in every room of the White House; employed the most sinister character assassin in American politics; campaigned with an evil kingpin who met with the giant corporations who once employed him, rewrote the nation's energy policy and then covered it up; and oversaw an administration that orchestrated the outing of a covert CIA agent because her husband was critical of Executive Branch officials.

Ring a bell? Yeah. So, I think you should know about the slight trepidation at the prospect of you running for president in 2008. America, it seems, still the remembers the past eight years.

When you shamefully pursued your doomed ambition back in 2000, you claimed your campaign was driven by your firm belief that Al Gore (the Democratic environmentalist) was no different from George W. Bush (the Republican religious zealot). Presumably, you truly believed that a two-party system rendered the candidates indistinguishable, but I maintain that you were probably just high on crack. Hilariously, you ran on the Green Party ticket against a man who went on to win a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the environment. The core principle of your party was to save the environment, and you dismantled the campaign of an established politician who has since popularized the notion that global warming is slowly destroying us. What the fuck?

Take a real close look through those beady eyes of yours -- do you see any possible discrepancies between the candidates now? Please, allow me to provide you with a handy cheat sheet, completed in beautiful pink colors to symbolize how serious you really are about saving America:

I know what you're thinking, Ralph. You're thinking, "hey, I didn't spoil the election. To assume the people who voted for me would have voted for Gore if I dropped out, thus handing him a victory, is counter-factual. Why, that's a logical fallacy!" But I want to stop you there for a moment, you ass, and remind you that Florida was called for Bush by a margin of 537 votes, while you received 97,488. I'm willing to bet that more than 537 of those people would have voted for Gore had you dropped your campaign to screw us all. I think you made your point. Eight painful years worth of them.

Look, Nader, I understand your need to challenge this pathetically manufactured two-party system. It sucks, and I wish you all the best in your endeavor to re-create American politics into something that's remotely fair for third-party candidates with little funding. But it would really help if you did it at a time when 1) the opposition isn't a puppet for a group of people who think Vietnam was a good idea, or 2) we aren't stuck in a bloody, meaningless war to support America's growing hunger for a substance that makes our cars go forward.

Face it: Ralph Nader is just a rallying cry for self-righteous freshmen college students who amass at the local vegan gathering after their 3 p.m. weaving class. Sorry, man.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

"Red lights flashing, time to retire"

In the few times my path has crossed with a lawman over the years, I've never had what you would call a traumatic experience. A few times it was a simple question of who was quicker on his feet, and in high school when such an occasion would arise, I was like a fucking gazelle. See, when you grow up in a small Christian town where the lonely group of sinners is resigned to lashing out against authority with loud music and heavy drinking, running from the police is pretty much a sport. I wouldn't say I'm particularly proud of my antics, but then again my only regret is that I didn't wave both middle fingers.

Of course, the Saturday night derby from authority wasn't always victorious. A few times I found myself cornered, alone, scared, and one time in particular I was left to fend for myself on the sidewalk at 3 a.m. in the middle of nowhere. The cop seemed to enjoy leaving me there -- I think it was secretly payback for all the other times the long arm of the law couldn't beat my sprinting record, what with the hand cannon and nightstick to lug around.

I have realized one thing, however: Cops are really easy to figure out. Many carry the badge because they are compensating for humiliating personal defects, such as the inability to gain respect from their peers without carrying an automatic weapon. The rest just have a fetish for control over situations and people. When they feel that control slipping away, they simply resort to violence, claiming their life was in danger. Hilariously, the burden of proof always seems to be on the person claiming abuse, not the authority figure with a legal mandate to regulate on peons with all God-given necessary force.

Oh yeah, and most cops are also fucking crazy. They have this savage need to reform the world with holier-than-thou beliefs of what is good and lawful. If you don't conform, they will inspire you to change through threats and physical violence. And then they will lie through their teeth -- sometimes to the point of absurdity.

Take the story of Angela Garbarino, a 42-year-old from Louisiana. After being arrested on suspicion of drunken driving (I emphasize suspicion here because, as we all know, we are all innocent until proven guilty), she was taken to the police station for "questioning."

What happened next is a grim reminder of how this society has allowed our police to become the brutal dictators of our justice system, circumventing all established safeguards for a free society. After Garbarino refused to take a Breathalyzer test, which is completely legal as long as you're willing to lose your driver's license, the arresting officer, aptly named Wiley Willis, savagely beat the woman. And just to show his further contempt for the rules, as if he needed to sink any lower, he turned off the camera in the holding cell before he did it. When he switched the camera back on, Garbarino was laying on the floor in a pool of her own blood, with two black eyes and a bruised face. She looked like this:

Then Willis did something amazing. Although he had reached the utter depths of human depravity by assaulting an (allegedly) intoxicated woman, he managed to transcend all known levels of disgusting behavior and betray even the idea of truth. He claimed that she "fell." Fucking fell!

After such a heroic demonstration of his abilities to beat a drunk person to a bloody pulp, this degenerate didn't even have the guts to admit his blatantly obvious actions. And to boot, he apparently thinks the entire world consists of monkeys who can't recognize a falling injury from a ferocious attack.

I've been reading many stories lately with a similar plot line. Here in Eugene, a police officer actually received a medal for shooting a 17-year-old kid who was having a mental breakdown and advancing at officers with a knife. The cop pumped a dozen rounds into him, and the powers-that-be called it heroic (he was fulfilling his duty to protect the innocent under intense pressure, apparently). Never mind that it wasn't exactly a split-second decision for the officer; he had time to fire beanbag rounds at the kid before pulling his sidearm. When the beanbag rounds failed, the cop just executed him. No shots in the leg to disable him. Just a death a sentence.

The funny thing is that anytime we question the antics of law enforcement, hysterical conformists inevitably accuse us of being hypocrites. "You complain about cops," they whine, "but if you were in trouble, you'd expect them to come!"

Wow, what a fucking novel revelation. You're goddamn right I'd expect them to come. Know why? Because my taxes pay for the cops to respond when I call. I'm paying for the service of being protected from criminals, and I'll be damned if I stay silent while my hard-earned tax dollars support what often amounts to criminal negligence. It's not like cops are doing me a fucking favor. They have a job. They get paid for it. They're not forced to go out there every day and risk their lives, but they do it anyway. And you'd have to be completely misguided to think that gives them a free pass to abuse their authority.

I understand that most times a cop will treat you with the same respect he receives. But the bad apples are piling up, and if we're not careful the whole batch might go sour. And then it will really get ugly.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Linking out


I've added some links to people I know who read my blog, some of whom have graciously added me to their list of links on their respective blogs. I fully understand that the material I convey on Hairy Alpaca can be a bit, er, rabidly anti-conformist and offensive to many people. That's how I like it. But given that, I will understand if you don't want to be associated with my ideas. If this is the case, shoot me an e-mail ( and let me know, and I'll take you off the list.

If you maintain a blog and want to be added to the list, just let me know. My intention here is to create more of a community for ideas, debate and random bitching.

Also, if you have a blog explaining the finer points of smoking crack, a reader somewhere out there on the Internet needs some information. I'm just saying.

Monday, February 18, 2008

I'm all cracked up

I apologize profusely for the low quality of the image, as I was working at my office with MSPaint and suffering through Vista, but I wanted to share this monumental occasion with my loyal readers. So without further ado, I would like to announce that Hairy Alpaca Inc. has officially been found on the Internet after somebody typed "i want to start smoking crack" into Google.

I have so many people to thank. The Lord, of course, first and foremost, without whom I would never have been able to establish a blog that is accessed by future crack smokers. I also need to throw a shout out to Biggie Smalls. Poorin' out liquor for ya, baby!

Oh, and just for future reference, crack is whack.

* UPDATE: For the record, that string of dotted lines doesn't indicate the daily usage of this blog. It just demonstrates the number of people who have visited the site by typing in those magical words. So, don't worry, you're not the only sucker trying to digest this insanity. The blog has been growing steadily, so thanks for reading!

Small-town idiots watch basketball; chaos ensues

Anger is a funny thing. Sometimes it will drive you to stupidity, like accelerating at extreme speeds because you can't find a fucking parking space on campus, breaking the nearest object after a high-intensity game of Monopoly, or maybe even getting arrested at a basketball game -- after assaulting a sixth-grade girl:

ESTACADA (AP) — Clackamas County sheriff’s deputies arrested a sixth-grade girls basketball coach Sunday, accusing him of taunting a high-school-age referee over his officiating and refusing to leave after being ejected, leading to a swarming onto the court floor by angry fans.

Sheriff’s department spokesman Jim Strovink said Jeffery Scott Larsen, 34, of Molalla, was charged with misdemeanor criminal trespassing of a sporting event.

Deputies went to the Estacada High School gym Saturday after getting calls about a disturbance over officiating of the game between teams from Estacada and Molalla.

Strovink said Deputy Brian Pearson reported that the disturbance began when Larsen, the Molalla coach, received two technical fouls and was ejected.

Pearson said Larsen remained in the building and verbally harassed the game’s 17-year-old referee, an Estacada High School student. The deputy’s report said Larsen threatened the referee physically and directed a profane attack at the boy after the game.

Strovink said via e-mail that Larsen got his first technical in the first half when he contested a foul call on one of his players. The second came in the second half when Larsen slammed his clipboard on the hand of a sixth-grade girl who was the scorekeeper.

The girl suffered a cut but did not require medical attention.

Seriously? A sixth-grade girl? I wonder if any action exists in this universe of human interaction that would make you a bigger douche than hurting a small child because you can't contain your rage over a sport involving 12-year-olds. And I'm not sure what the point is berating a high-school-age official. It stands to reason that the kid probably didn't have a whole lot of experience, and even so, IT'S A FUCKING SIXTH-GRADE BASKETBALL GAME. We're not talking about the NCAA championship here. I'm pretty sure nobody had any money riding on it. Fuck, I take that back. This town is clearly that stupid.

But not to be outdone by the antics of the coach, the fans also grew increasingly distressed, possibly due to sexual frustration or the fact that all they have to do in fucking Estacada is fight each other over sixth-grade basketball:
Strovink said reports were that Larsen refused to leave the arena when ejected and continued to yell at the officiating.
The e-mail said fan hostility grew and at the end of the game fans of both teams went onto the floor taunting the referee and insulting each other.

When a pack of prepubescent girls consists of the most mature, reasonable people in the room, I'd say it's time for a major reassessment of your environs.

A dark time

Everybody wants a box of chocolates,
and a long-stemmed rose.
-- Leonard Cohen

In some dark corner of my mind I constantly wonder when this whole fucking world will collapse.

I see a bundle of rags laying in the gutter with his filthy jacket and cracked teeth and no hope left because he's been abandoned by everything that passes for good and righteous in this wilderness of brutality. He can't even get a buck for a sandwich because a pack of disgusting weasels in slick suits have spent decades convincing the public that he is a lazy man -- a man who clearly deserves to be discarded. They know this because he's in the gutter.

Meanwhile, the shop on the corner is dealing out guns -- instruments of death, when you cut right down to it -- wholesale to anybody with the capacity to sign on the dotted line. Protect your family from the criminals, they say. It's your American freedom, they say. It's your American duty, they say. But who will protect your family from the law-abiding, freedom-loving madman who bought a gun the day before? Maybe he's the kind of guy who walks into a college classroom and spreads chaos around like a wildfire. Maybe he's the kind of guy who sheds blood, and nobody saw it coming. In a free world, nobody ever does.

Freedom. Just the sound of it brings shaking rapture to politicians, so consumed by power and fear and paralyzing evil. We shudder with ecstasy at the very mention of its hallowed syllables. The word itself evokes a sense of relief -- it slides off the tongue so easily. It tastes so sweet, like chocolate.

It's just too bad that the idea of liberty is a mask pulled over our eyes to hide the ugly truth that we're not free at all. We're not free to feel safe in our own classrooms from rabid, law-abiding, gun-toting psychopaths. We're not free from the powers of the government to spy on our every movement, especially those who speak out -- those practicing that old staple, freedom of speech. We're not even free enough to choose which foreign country to rape of its precious, nonrenewable resources. But we don't worry about all that because at least we can buy a gun. And so it goes.

American freedom is great. American freedom is that fantastic, bright beacon of hope that shines so brilliantly that we go blind.

American freedom is killing us.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Mitt Romney: A royal piece of shit

The problem with billionaires running for president is that they have no concept of the real problems facing this country. They can't even fathom how difficult it is to be poor and low-skilled because they literally swim in money and power. So they focus on issues they think are important to Americans and hope to Christ they hit it somewhere in the ballpark of relevancy. In Mitt Romney's case, the issues he decided to champion were fighting pornography and converting people to Christianity. More God and fewer breasts. Thanks for that, asshole.

Romney is a classic American Capitalist. He made his millions by investing in struggling companies, shitting on their workers until the companies turned a profit, and then selling them for excruciating amounts of money. All in all, not a bad strategy, except for the whole shitting on workers part. Of course, this is supposed to be the coveted, saintly role of the American entrepreneur -- cutting benefits to profitability until you've developed a proper sexual appetite, at which point you go home, have sex with your trophy wife in your Massachusetts mansion, and engorge yourself at a dinner table surrounded by 17 kids who will prolong your legacy. Meanwhile, the workers you've either put out of work or denied health insurance are left to decide whether it will be Kraft dinner or pain medication to bring a few moments of sweet relief from the back injury the company refused to fix.

And that's progress. That's our perfectly manufactured system. Don't let Romney fool you -- this is his REAL religion.

To make matters worse, this nation is so blind that when this same billionaire runs for president, an increasingly paranoid public and hopeless media spend an entire year analyzing whether a Mormon can lead the Free World, rather than investigating the fact that he is a slimy, money-grubbing, soulless shell of a human. In fact, when Romney looks into the camera with the hollow eyes of a man who would break his mother's spine if it meant a solid third quarter, the foam-mouthed conservatives are paralyzed by fear, which is just how they like it. The rest of us just see another political hyena, eager to feast on the decaying carcass of our broken political system. I would say our whole society is decaying, but I'm convinced there is some justice in the world because Romney ended up spending millions trying to convince people that he had a shred of humanity left, and nobody bought it. How heavy the tyrants fall.

In his concession speech, Romney cited the prevalence of pornography as a pressing issue of our time. Are you fucking kidding me? Pornography? Hey Mitt, here's a clue: Nobody fucking cares about pornography. We've got more troubling and immediate matters to worry about. I'm sorry you think that two consenting adults having sex in front of a camera is such an abomination and catalyst for the destruction of this nation, but let's face facts. Banning pornography isn't going to save the Dow Jones. It isn't going to feed the hungry, care for our neglected troops after they come back from Iraq with missing arms, or bring peace to the Middle East. It might, however, bring a guy a few minutes of simple, human pleasure before he works 16 hours at Wal-Mart for $3.00 an hour and no benefits because you lobbied for a lower minimum wage and convinced business executives that giving workers 35 hours a week so they don't get insurance is much better than having some fucking compassion. Now the guy has to work four jobs to pay off his nearly-foreclosed house, and he can't have sex with his wife because he's never home. So he watches a bit of pornography to take the edge off. And you want to take that away from him because you are sorry, empty piece of shit who thinks your prophet came to America on a submarine.

Let's face it Mitt -- you're so used to taking things away from people that you have no capability of giving anything back. And that's why you will never be president.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Just a thought

For a nation that often prides itself on quick gratification, our election system sure seems to take its damn time. Think you've wrapped up the nomination because you won the most states? Oh, sorry, too bad, we have some convoluted delegate system that doesn't make any sense.

With Obama and Clinton so close delegate-wise, I'm seeing speculations across the media that they could be duking it out well into spring and maybe beyond. That means at least three more months of debates and talking heads before the Democrats even have a nominee (but most likely not so for the Republicans, who appear -- surprisingly -- to favor the least insane of the three candidates.)

The good news is a McCain presidency probably wouldn't be a whole lot different from a Clinton presidency. There, I said it.

Anyway, I've prepared for months more of the Change vs. Dynasty argument by stocking up on hammers. Perhaps if I keep crushing them into my skull I'll go to a happy place where American politics doesn't exist.