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“Oops…”: The Week In Debates for 11/06/11-11/12/11

November 14, 2011 Leave a comment

“Rick Perry isn’t the guy you want to have a Beer with, he’s the kind of guy who got a head start on the beer before you got there.” – Stephen Colbert

I made a boo boo!

I’m a busy man. I am most busy on Wednesdays, so I did not see the CNBC debate. When I was done being busy enough to check my Facebook at 11PM however, I was greeted by somebody posting the following video that simply said, “Watch Rick Perry’s Campaign End Before Your Eyes.” Uh oh… That can’t be good. I played it.

Note: When I was writing the piece, the video was still online, but due a copyright infringement claim by CNBC, the video has been taken down. Which warrants outrage in its own right, and probably some investigation since I could make the argument that this falls more into public domain.

Oh bother… Rick Perry is going onwards with his campaign, but he’s going to face more resistance than a non-white person trying to enter a building owned by Donald Trump. Since the debate happened well after the late night programs taped, things simmered overnight, then all hellfire crashed down. Not a ton of people watched Perry’s supposedly drunken speech, but aforementioned “Oops…” video hit well over two million views the last time I checked it. This is like when Miss South Carolina talked about her maps and the people that didn’t have them. No doubt about it, the people now know of the Brain Freeze of Rick Perry. Which is quite the accomplishment itself, since only 3.3 Million people saw it, half of the previous debate’s audience.

This Turtle Is Unhappy With The Current Batch of Republican Canidates

“I want to be President — but not like this.” – Saturday Night Live’s Mitt Romney

Last week, I wrote of Rick Perry’s then-current state as a Survivor contestant on Redemption Island that was looking to stage a comeback. Well, he’s now been voted off the island. After all, do you want your President, or Presidential candidate saying, “Oops?” Oops, I accidentally unloaded our entire nuclear arsenal on Canada! Oops, I accidentally outlawed heterosexual marriage! Oops, I accidentally made Ke$ha Vice-President! I feel like at this point, Sarah Palin and George W. Bush look like they have Master’s degrees comparatively.

Substitute Ron Paul for Batman and you can see how he trains for debates on Tuesdays

But you know what my favorite thing of all this was? Ron F’n Paul. “5!” he says. Perry is scrambling searching for the answer and asking anybody and everybody like a panicked freshman during a final exam and Ron Paul is just like, “5!” Yes, Rick Perry can’t think of 3 government agencies he’d like to cut and Ron Paul is just like, “I can name 5 government agencies to cut off the top of my head while punching sharks in the damn nose you dumb-ass rookie!” Or at least that’s what I imagine Ron Paul’s inner-monologue sounding like. He kind of weird that way. He could say that and it wouldn’t be surprising in the least.

Sure, Perry may have the most money out of any candidate except Romney at this point, but all the money in the world can’t invent time travel. Or can it? I know I’d put up with 8 years of Rick Perry if I was promised the invention of time travel. Heck, Herman Cain can do all the inappropriate things he allegedly wants to do if I get Time Travel out of the deal.

So, with Rick Perry accidentally chugging laxative before a Survivor challenge involving staying in a small cave with a group of hot women for 24 hours, Rick Perry has been voted off Redemption Island. And no, doing a Top 10 list on Letterman or repeating the phrase, “I Stepped In It” does not give you a pass to come back.

“Rick Perry could shoot a puppy during the online-exclusive portion of this debate and nobody would realize it.” – Me

Damn Roadrunner...

Then there was also a debate on a Saturday night, on CBS. Don’t worry, you’re forgiven if this is the first time you’re hearing about it. I didn’t know it existed until somebody told me a few hours beforehand, and even then, I had to find confirmation that it existed via TV Guide. If you went to CBS.com beforehand or during, or basically any website on the Internet outside of CBSnews.com, the existence of this debate was a complete non-story. Since CBS themselves treated it like a non-story, the  debate was itself a non-story. Essentially, there were two notable, if you want to call them that, events surrounding the debate.

First off, like the other debates, this debate was an hour and a half, but unlike the other debate, CBS was exclusively streaming the last 30 minutes online at CBSnews.com. Unless you lived exclusively in South Carolina or the West Coast, you had no way of seeing the debate in a non-offline scenario. For people like me, we were treated to yet another repeat of NCIS. Why? Ratings. The debate was watched by 5.29 million people. 5.5 million watched NCIS. Sure, it’s Saturday night, but CBS knows that people would rather see Mark Harmon’s face than Mitt Romney’s face. In fact, I’m starting it now…

2016 Bitches!

Now, I don’t know how many people watched the online portion of the debate, but because it was both online-only and on a Saturday night, Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann could have done the nasty and literally nobody would know/care. Rick Perry, you should have made your mistake then. As/is, he just gave this soundbite:

“The communist Chinese government will end up on the ash heap of history if they do not change their virtues.” – Rick Perry

Sure, it’s incredibly ignorant and stupid, but it’s not a newsmaking gaffe. Since this is Progress for Perry, or hashtag “#PerryProgress,” Newsweek said he might have won the debate by virtue of not screwing up. Also, apparently the people also like the self-deprecation he’s doing in making fun of his own gaffe. Does this mean Perry can once again stage a comeback? No. Stop that. Perry was voted off Redemption Island, remember? I know Newt Gingrich is swimming back to shore, but… You know what? Screw it.

Put them all in a room with either each other, or each other AND a gorilla. Whoever comes out alive gets the Republican Nomination. So of course, Ron Paul will win. Damn it…

Fact: Ron Paul has Jedi Skills.

Occupying Wall Street In Boone: Act 3

November 8, 2011 Leave a comment

R.I.P.

First, some history for the sake of context. Starting in Winston-Salem, NC in 1879, Wachovia was a North Carolina staple of banking. If you live in the state and want the biggest frequency of ATMs, you simply go with Wachovia. Basically, a lot of people in North Carolina called Wachovia their bank. For a while, this worked fine and dandy. In 2007, they were making over 2 billion bucks. But then the financial crisis hit, and hit hard.

In summer of 2008, Wachovia lost 9 billion dollars. Immediately, they were in danger of dying. They weren’t too big to fail, but their failure would be especially annoying. So, vulnerable and cheap, ready to sell, Wells Fargo bought them and had everything signed and sold by the end of the year. Since then, they’ve heralding the biggest bank transition in US history. On the weekend of October 13th, Wells Fargo transitioned 317 of the last Wachovia branches. Wachovia died. Wells Fargo was ushered in.

Personally, the change hasn’t been too noticeable. Sure, I carry a card with the logo of a now non-existent company, but everything is proceeding as normal. I even get to do banking on the Wells Fargo iPhone app now, which Wachovia didn’t have.

Nothing Says Dependable Like A Stagecoach

The problem lies in the transition itself. Literally, in the course of a weekend, signs were taken down, and put up. The interiors were repainted. New quotes were put up.  New logos displayed. They even gave out candy in celebration. If you think about it, this is quite the feat of coordination. 317 giant new signs had to be taken to each branch. 317 people had to put them up. 317 branches had to have their insides repainted. 317 people had to buy candy, of course charged to cooperate. And don’t forget about all the ATMs that were also converted. Basically, it costs a lot of money to get that kind of coordination. Sure, you might employ local businesses, but where do you get the money to pay for all of that? The money you squeeze by foreclosing on houses and such? Granted, Wells Fargo is a business, but the transition seems to be a giant, relatively useless expenditure in a time of great need.

Besides this example of corporate idiocy within marching distance of the college, the Wells Fargo also sits on the corner of the busiest intersection in the county, if not a bunch of the surrounding counties. We probably only stood there for an hour, but during that hour, during rush hour on a Friday, it’s quite possible that 500-1000 cars passed through. And there we were, and the corner of it all, exposing ourselves and message to the most number of people possible.

Spot the Bird

Call Me Chicken Now!

Since the sidewalk, is also fairly large, it gave us plenty of space to not only protest, but to mill about and take pictures. I of course, was a mostly favorite to document. People told me how they liked the mask and sign. One person expressed his opinion that anger is a weak emotion. Some liked the fact that I was using an Angry Bird. Other people expressed their like with less accuracy, “Hey, red chicken, turn around!” an old lady said, asking if she could take my picture. Other people came closer, with the name, “Mad Bird.”

So there we stood. For an hour, turning our signs to whichever direction of traffic was moving. And since it takes some 5 minutes for the traffic light to cycle through everybody, some got to literally look at me and my ridiculous bird costume for 5 minutes. We’d get honks. We’d get cheers of support. We’d get yelling from drunk Frats.

But mostly by the end, I’d gotten cold. We’d started our march at like 5PM, and I finished my protesting at 6:30, but with fingers numb, and stomach grumbling. I thought about walking across the street to the Wendy’s, but it might look weird if I frequented a corporate establishment after declaring my anger for The Man’s greed. So I walked back to campus, mask back at my side, thinking about what I had just experienced during my first protest.

Overall, here’s what I came away with from my experience with Occupy Wall Street, or at least the Boone chapter of it. I can’t speak for the “crazies” in New York City and Oakland, as well as a dozen other cities that are apparently so important that they each have Wikipedia pages.

My Angry Bird Plush, With Glasses

Occupy Wall Street is whatever you want it to mean. It does whatever you want it to do. It’s delightfully non-partisan, and doesn’t argue for either Republican or Democrat causes. It’s a bunch of people expressing dissatisfaction with the state of their nation, which they mostly love, but just want to be better.

Government is not perfect. I don’t think anybody can argue with that. Sometimes it needs to be reminded of this fact. Sometimes we need to tell it that. Telling Government that is not anti-American. Just the opposite. It’s a giant cauldron of Freedom of Speech & Expression where the young, old, middle-age, liberal, conservative, Marxist, communist, Socialist, Unitarian, baptists, Mormon, and whomever can come, and not be necessarily wrong. The 99% mantra may be what’s most heard, but it’s not necessarily the point. It’s just part of the chorus of people saying that we can live out our full potential, if we’re just given a chance, and take that chance.

The existence of the movement generates discussion about everything relating to it. From the common issues of greed, to protesting etiquette. It’s basically harmless in a sense, but there is the fringe, who should be chided if only for giving a bad name to a relatively worthy endeavor.

In closing, I’d like to offer this quote on the true reason why we’re Occupying Wall Street and America.

“For each, it is a chance to participate in something that the scholars of Wikipedia might one day record as substantial.  In the meantime, it presents innumerable opportunities for these rugged protesters to tweet and post images from their proletarian smart phones. “

P.S.: I did eventually make it to that night’s Halloween Party, and a good time was had by all. I did however, not win the costume contest.

Finally. A Good Picture of Me. That Was Totally Worth Reading The Previous 3,000 Words.

Occupying Wall Street In Boone: Act 2

November 8, 2011 Leave a comment

The Facebook event says some 200 people are going to be there to Occupy Boone. I arrive and maybe 50 are there, with another 30-50 arriving by the time we actually start marching. The weather, to put it lightly, is miserable. 35 degrees, and rainy. It’s also a Friday, which means that everybody has the compelling urge to be at home, doing something indoorsy. But hey, those that are there are true believers in the cause. This isn’t a drive-by protest. No, everybody there is mad about something, and ready to make their grievances known.

As people get their signs together, and as reporters take pictures, a member of the campus police comes by to tells us not only that he supports the cause, but to call him if we run into trouble with the local police.

I'm on the left, in the very back, without a mask. I'm the one distracted by a Squirrel on my left.

Ah... But I Like Uncle Pennybags

The organizer of the event is a Veteran, female, fairly young, with a sign reading, “Now I know what I’m fighting for! Occupy!” Maybe 50% of the participants, are actual college students. Most of them seem just like members of the community, old, young, middle age. Some even bring their kids.

We then gather in a group as a few people volunteer to speak. A couple say they’ve been to the Occupy movement in DC, and were so inspired that they wanted to help with the cause here. One person gives a few guidelines of protesting so we don’t get arrested. You know, stay on the public sidewalks and stuff. Also, do only what we have  permit to do. That’s right, the organizers of the group got a permit just to make sure we wouldn’t be pepper sprayed. Granted, that’d make us martyrs, but it’d also be extremely unpleasant in the meantime. Also, it gives more bad press.

Then a few people get up to give purpose and a goal to a group that clearly is seen by many to have none. “Did you hear that one guy? He was a total Marxist.” a man says later to a friend about one of the speakers. In all, 3 speeches are given by people wanting to give the group a goal and purpose. It goes on for maybe 10 minutes, but it feels like 20 minutes in the freezing mountain weather. I zone out as I hold my mask on my side.

This is my Bulge.

Another reason people might not have been speaking to me was the fact that I had a plush Angry Bird under my leather jacket. I was bringing it for the party later and until then didn’t want to hold the plush bird as I held the sign, or for him to get wet. As a result, I looked kind of strange with an indeterminable bulge under my jacket that might have signaled that I was pregnant,  if I was in fact a woman, or if the bulge weren’t so weirdly shaped. As a result, people would try to reach their cameras up to my tall self so they could take pictures of me as high as they could. Otherwise, it just looked weird if they captured the along my torso area.

Eventually, we were ready to march. But first, we had to find a good marching saying. One person, probably the Marxist, said that we should say something that involved the word, “F**k.”

“Eh…” “No.” “How about something else.” came the rest of the group. Eventually, somebody started the basic, “We. Are. The 99%!” Good enough. It was time to march.

Spot the Bird

We march across and through the relatively empty college campus. It wasn’t empty because of the rain or cold, it was just Friday. So we took to the streets. As soon as we got near the streets, the mood immediately changed. We were marching for Democracy and our various causes. We held our signs in ways best seen by the drivers passing by.

Some drivers would honk in approval, others would stare at the crazy people walking in the cold sprinkle. The honks were most pleasing, as we took every bit of support we could get. They honked prolongly, that means they like us, WHOO! Some would yell their support as they drove by. They were busy going about their day, but they were with us, in spirit.

When we came to an intersection, we stopped for a few minutes to let people know of our grievances at the cross roads. Stopping at intersections is optimal for two reasons:

  1. Since people are stopped by red lights, they have almost no choice but to look at you.
  2. Since an intersection is basically two roads crossing, it’s like getting two for the price of one in avenues of potential people that needed to hear our good news.

Spot The Bird

We then walked to the downtown area of Boone, an especially congested part of town where you’re always sure to find some tourist gazing our our old-timey stores and restaurants. Heck, President Obama had just bought candy on the same street some 10 days beforehand. Not only were we reaching tourists and locals looking to get drunk on a dreary Friday, but we were also passing any number of small-businesses.

After walking through downtown, we came to a particularly construction-raddled intersection, which didn’t make for optimal protesting. So as we tried to dodge the construction, this gave people to think of other protest sayings. As we walked through downtown, the predominant saying was, “Show me what Democracy looks like. This is what Democracy looks like!” We tried to come up with better ones, but we had to stay simple, lest the harmony of the chants was lost as we, the crowd, forgot what the long chants were right after they were told to us.

Now’s probably a good time to talk about the extremist role in all of this. Not because were were attacked, but because it’s just a nice break in the protesting timeline. There are basically three kinds of protesters in the movement:

  1. Those that believe in the movement, but go too far. See Cornel West, probably. These are the minority.
  2. Those that don’t believe in the movement, and just use it to go too far. See Oakland. These are absolute fringe.
  3. Those that believe in the movement, and protest reasonably. These are the majority.

At one point while walking to our ultimate destination of protest, some of our people literally took to the street. Granted, it was a 4-lane street, but it’s still annoying to local drivers, giving the Occupy movement a bad image in their minds. Also, the police don’t like you walking in the street and clogging traffic. The people in the street saw themselves as doing right since they were “taking Democracy to the streets,” but the rest of us on the sidewalk knew it was a bad idea, and expressed our displeasure with “Nahs,” “Uhs,” and “Maybe We Shouldn’t Do Thats.” A minute later, everybody got back on the sidewalk.

Like the Marxist before, the rest of the group let them know of their displeasure because of the image it’d give our cause. With a movement like this, I think these voices need to be louder in chiding our fellow extremists. When we do anything for a cause, we need to approach it like a PR person. How can we portray ourselves in a positive light? How can I not give a negative image with my actions? Point is, the movement needs to do everything within the law, and chide those that do otherwise. There is a fine line you can walk, but I think it’d be better at this point, while getting everybody on your side, that the movement does condemn those who go too far, or even close to too far.

But getting back to the march. We walk down the street, yelling in approval everytime we heard a honk, to route to our ultimate destination, the local Wells Fargo bank.

Spot the Bird

Occupying Wall Street In Boone: Act 1

November 8, 2011 Leave a comment

My cousin in the Bronx, he knows everyone. And he said start the revolution without me, I’ll definitely be at the next one.” – Kaiser Chiefs

Last week, as a college Senior, I realized something. I’d never protested before. After all, it seems that all great college experiences and great moments of history involve a protest on a college campus in effort to cause change. Vietnam, Iraq etc. So, when I saw a flier that Occupy Wall Street would be coming to my college campus, I was interested. But not convinced.

After all, we’re in need of an Independent perspective on the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Ask a Liberal, and they’ll say, ‘Why are you asking me what I think about it? You should be out there!’ Ask a Conservative, and they’ll say, ‘They’re a bunch of friggin’ hippies.’ With a lack of leadership or even clear purpose, it’s easy for anyone to make whatever assumption or judgement about them that they want. Are Burger Kings being used as a bathroom by people in beards and scruffy hair more than usual? Well, the Occupy movement can’t say otherwise, so the crazies must speak for the movement.

Then there’s those bloody commies. Always coming along and saying we have to take from the rich and give to the poor. Spread the wealth like homeless men with STDs. This country wasn’t founded on Socialism, it’s a Democracy! Then there’s the fact that they’re lazy. So, so, so, lazy. They should be out trying to find a job instead of complaining that they don’t have one. Nobody got anywhere in this country without working a little! It’s like they’re Mexican, or French, or some other nationality we don’t like, or something!

With the exaggerations being spewed like the above paragraph on a daily basis, it’s hard to tell what to make of it all. Heck, everybody only knows of the 99% and 1% dichotomy because they yelled it so many times. Yet, despite so many predictions that it would die on the fringe, it’s still around, at least until it starts snowing. Not only has it stuck around so far, but it’s thrived. Since the media hasn’t stopped talking about it, more people have heard the messages, and it now seems like every city has an Occupy movement.

America is being Occupied, and everything is being occupied. Does Jupiter have too much mass? #OccupyJupiter. It’s all in parody of course, but with every parody, the public is made more aware of the existence of this group of “crazies.” Eventually, everybody will have to decide, or decide who decides for them, if they agree with the group or not.

Then the night before the protest on my campus, I read an article on the correlation between the popular iPhone game, Angry Birds. If you don’t know, Angry Birds is a game where you slingshot a bird into a structure housing a pig. The goal is to knock the structure down in such a way that it crushes the pig inside. Why? Here’s the developer’s description of the game.

“The survival of the Angry Birds is at stake. Dish out revenge on the green pigs who stole the Birds’ Eggs. Use the unique destructive powers of the Angry Birds to lay waste to the Pigs’ fortified castles.”

Our Eggs...

If you’ve never played the game before, then you should. It’s really fun, and at the cost of 99 cents, you get more bang for you buck than 95% of actual video games that cost $60 on a machine that costs $250 or more. The game is created with so much charm and quirks, that the sound effects and theme songs have become cultural mainstays, while the company is making a fortune in merchandise, etc. Getting back to the article, the author compares the above description to our current cultural struggle.

Reread that description and exchange the word Birds for the word “Americans”.  Now trade the word Pig, for any of the following:  Congress, the President, Wall Street, Big Banks, The Top 1%, and so on.  Pick your poison.  For those valuable Eggs that belonged to the Birds and were stolen by the Pigs; substitute the word, Jobs, Retirement Accounts, Investments, or Elections.  You can see why Americans would be mad.

The A-B-Team

Cue the lightbulb of inspiration. The Birds are the 99%, the Pigs are the 1%, and they stole our eggs that we have to get back. Time to get angry! But it’ll literally be in the 30s all day tomorrow. Never mind.

But then I changed my mind again. Since it was the Friday before Halloween, it was Halloween party time. This year, I was going as a Red Angry Bird. Why? Because it was extremely silly, and I liked the prospect of wearing what was basically a giant cotton ball on my head all night. Inspiration struck again. I could dress up as the Angry Bird as I protest, and use Angry Bird-related sayings to protest. I did this for a few reasons.

  1. Dressing up with a giant Angry Bird on my head would make me stand out from everybody else. After all, in a sea of protesters, it’s hard to get your message across. You could say something about the 99%, but the guy next to you, and the guy behind him are also saying something about the 99%. Boring. Wearing my Halloween costume to protest? That will draw eyes.
  2. With the mask on, it’s hard to tell that it’s me wearing it. Therefore, if somebody saw a picture of me, they couldn’t immediately tell it was me. If the local police decided to pepper spray me and I ended up on the front page of the paper, I would probably be fine. Relatively speaking. It’s just a crazy with a bird on his head.
  3. Angry Birds is both an original, and kind of perfect metaphor.
  4. Since it’s a metaphor, it can be vague. What am I Angry at? You have to read my sign.
  5. But my signs are also vague. One side reads, “I’m Angry at the greed.” Greed of who? Wall Street? Government? Democracy? Obama? Bush? Adam Sandler for starring in Jack and Jill for what is clearly a large paycheck? I don’t know.
  6. My second sign read, “The Pigs Keep Stealing My Eggs.” Again, it’s vague. Who are the pigs? What eggs am I referring to? My money, my time, my desire to look at cat videos on YouTube? You tell me.
  7. The whole thing also makes people smile. Ridiculousness is always appreciated in my eyes, and it would lighten the otherwise sad proceedings since we’re mad about lost money, and the demise of Civilization.

They're Also Angry At The Education System

In a way, I’m parodying the whole thing. It’s totally ridiculous that somebody would be marching around town to “protest” Wall Street in an Angry Bird costume, with signs making reference to a stupid game. It’s all so vague, but at the same time, it’s perfect. Anybody can look at me and derive anything they want. Mad at the Wall Street Fat Cats? I could be standing with you. And since I knew none of the other protesters, it’s not like they were going to go up to me and start a whole deep discussion of my political beliefs, and reasons for protesting. Not like I was going to start any conversation. I was there in strictly a observational, immersive capacity.

I drew up the signs and colored them in on an old Papa Johns box I had. But again, it was cold outside. But wait, somebody on the group’s Facebook page says the local TV news is going to be there. Since I like being on TV, I knew I had to go now (Either I was misled, or Channel 12 dislikes rain, because they never showed). I could just wear a jacket, and be closer to the Halloween party when it actually came around. I could just kill some time, in a productive investigation that could be later turned into a blog, or two, or three.

One Thing's For Sure. The Pig's Going Down.

Beware the Interns: A Review of “The Ides of March”

October 12, 2011 2 comments

“Ambition Seduces. Power Corrupts.” – Tagline for The Ides of March

Although a movie, The Ides of March is not about heroes and villains. Although a movie about politics, it doesn’t push a political agenda, although some may argue that it’s implied. Although it concerns itself with scandal, it’s as much about ideals, and values, like loyalty. It’s about naive natures, playing dirty in politics, and asking just how far we are willing to go to win. But like the original Ides of March, where Ceaser met his end by friends seeking political gain, it’s a tale of betrayal and tragedy.  In Star Wars terms, The Ides of March is like watching Anakin Skywalker become a somehow more horrible version of Darth Vader.

I think the film ultimately makes three points:

  1. People are imperfect and makes mistakes.
  2. We play dirty politics because it works, it’s easy, and everybody does it, so you are forced to do it also.
  3. To win in politics, you have to compromise your values and you must sacrifice your beliefs.

Sure, none of these are revolutionary thoughts, a fact that several critics are hung up on, the movie presents its story in a credible, well-done, thrilling and shocking way.

Ryan Gosling plays Stephen Myers, a Junior Campaign Manager for Mike Morris, played by George Clooney, a Pennsylvania Governor running for the Presidential Nomination in the Democratic Primaries in a race that is so close in the context of the film, that North Carolina is somewhat relevant, even though the winner is usually decided far in advance of the state, so it seems, in real life. But not this race, as Morris’ campaign team knows that they’ll have to lock up a popular Senator’s support in order to win Ohio. If they win the state of Ohio, that it’ll be a big enough victory to propel them to the Democratic candidate for President, if not the White House itself. That’s the setup, to which the movie moves into it’s 3-act tragedy.

“We’re gonna be fine. We have to do it, it’s the right thing to do and nothing bad happens when you’re doing the right thing.” – Stephen Meyers

Stephen Meyers

Stephen is different from most political consultants because he actually believes in the cause and ability of Morris. In his mind, he can do no wrong and is the best person to help the most amount of people in the country. But since Stephen is so good, he’s also incredibly confident and prideful about his work. He also has a problem in that he’s only 30, facing a possibility of working in the White House if Morris wins. If Morris wins however, then Stephen gets a nice job for 4-8 years, then either an early retirement, or starting his own lobbyist firm, which would be menial in its own way. If Morris loses however, then Stephen goes back to a menial job at a consulting firm, waiting once more to rise up the ranks.

But Morris is also naive in his own way. To win Ohio, and therefore the Democratic nomination, all Morris has to do is promise to give the Secretary of State position to the aforementioned Senator. That’s all he has to do, but he refuses because not only would it compromise his values, but the Senator is known for being staunchly against the U.N. Does that sound like a good candidate for Secretary of State, a person that has to deal with World leaders on a regular basis? No, but if Morris doesn’t give him the position, he won’t have a chance to bring his values to the White House. He’s naive, but in a different way than Stephen, since one’s intentions are obviously more honorable than the other. Still, pride will ultimately befall both men.

It’s at this point where I can go no further without giving away explicit spoilers for the film. If you plan on seeing this film in the near future, I recommend you do not any farther, since maximum enjoyment of the film requires surprise when bombshells are dropped, and characters go as far as they do. If the film has appealed to you thus far, or the subject matter or what I’ve written appeals to you, then go see it.

“There’s only one rule in politics: you don’t f**k the intern!” – Stephen Meyers

Meyers and Molly the Intern

That’s right, as a President, you can wreak an economy, a country, or even the world, but consider yourself in royal trouble if you ever have sex with an intern. No good can ever come of it. Since Morris is prideful as a politician, he thinks he can get away with having an affair with the intern, and as long as nobody speaks of it, he’ll be fine. But then she gets pregnant.

Personally, I have a primal facination for movies that feature an inevitable horrible cascadal decline for our characters where they’re put in a situation where no good can ever come from their current situation. I’m not talking about stupid Teens in a horror film, no, I’m talking about the horror film of life. Stephen Meyers is of course sleeping with the intern himself, due to his pride, but when she receives a call at 2:30 in the morning from Morris himself, it’s an “Oh, crap…” moment that sends the mind racing towards all the possibilities the film could go down. It’s inherently funny and stereotypical that a politician would end up in this position, but then the film ratchets up the moment more by revealing that the intern is pregnant. It’s a classic catalyst to move characters into making decisions that will ultimately decide their fate.

“I’ll do or say anything if I believe in it, but I have to believe in the cause.” – Stephen Meyers

The Ohio Campaign Headquarters

Since Stephen has declared himself married to the campaign, he must set aside personal feelings for this intern that he’s partly fallen in love with during the course of their affair, and mark her as collateral damage. Stephen rationalizes that it’s best to leave her out to dry, firing her off her internship and driving her to a clinic to have an abortion rather than let Morris catch the fallout. Sure, his once perfect candidate is now tainted beyond measure, but Stephen still has a job, and in his mind at least, this is the best way to “fix things.”

But then he’s put against the wall due being fired due to a series of manipulations and scheming due to Stephen’s lack of loyalty stemming from his pride. It doesn’t feel good being part of the fallout from your own mistakes, so Stephen, again out of pride, threatens to take Morris down on his way out. Hearing this brings up another “Oh crap…” moment, because what’s the best way to take down the Morris campaign? The intern… knowing this, she kills herself rather than being dragged through the mud in order to destroy one man, ultimately helping another.

“Revenge makes people unpredictable.” – Tom Duffy

Meyers Looks On With New Eyes

At this point, I thought Meyers himself might take his own life out of the sheer guilt of being indirectly responsible for her death. But no, after having his mistakes used against himself in getting fired, Meyers now knows all to well the power of dirty politics. Secrets are weapons, and effective ones at that. So what’s Stephen to do? Do the same to Morris. Left with the choice of direct connections to both an affair, an abortion and a suicide, Morris is forced to not only give up the Secretary of State position in order to secure a win, but let Stephen have his boss’ old job, essentially moving up from an aide to a full-blown campaign manager to a candidate that’s now a shoe-in not only for the nomination, but presumably for the White House. But at what price does it come at?

For Morris, in order to get his supposedly great ideas to the White House, he had to make some serious moral compromises and let people into his circle that have no right being there. All of this was due to his pride of sleeping with the intern, which of course you never, ever do. The affair and ultimatum forces Morris into a position to win, but at a great cost.

For Meyers, he lost his naive nature, his hands are covered in blood, he’s responsible for having his boss fired, oh, and he’s responsible for ensuring Morris gets into the White House. He’s betrayed all of his ideals for success and revenge. All of this due to his naive nature, which led to pride, which of course led to his downfall. But where in other fields he would stay down, justifiably ruined, in politics you can come back better than ever if you just have a little dirt.

Morris Gains The Support of Senator Thompson

The final scene, which is of Meyers being prepped for an interview, is like watching minions put on Darth Vader’s suit. Make-up is applied, his ear piece is put in, the hair is made just right, and then the camera pans towards Stephen’s face. At this point, it’s the face of pure evil. It’s haunting to stare at that trademark Ryan Gosling expression, showing nothing while revealing everything. He’s morally dead inside. He used a girl’s suicide to get himself a better job. The question the movies asks in the final scene is, does he reveal the truth to the media?

I think not, since the transformation is complete. Darth Vader also regretted a little of what happened, but what’s he going to do ? He has a choice: peak in his career by the time he’s 40 by working in the White House, or shred every little bit of it, feeling guilty with nothing to distract from it. Yeah, Darth Vader is going to choose ruling the Empire.

On a movie level, it’s all well-acted, with Gosling being a compelling presence as always, and Hoffman playing the Obi-Wan Kenobi to the Vader, as Stephen’s boss and Morris’ campaign manager. Clooney is a credible politician, comfortable on expressing views he probably already believes in. It’s silly in a way, but he’s George Clooney, so you’re fine with him and his dreaminess. His directing on the other hand doesn’t live up to the potential that I once had for him some 5 or 8 years ago. There’s great moments, such as the final scene, but you can’t really feel his hand as much as I’d like to. And again, if you go into the film not knowing the plot particulars, you’ll be an equal mix of shocked and riveted throughout much of the film as the events unfold. Especially the last 30 minutes or so, which I’m surprised more critics haven’t hailed as a stunning piece of work that it is, for simply going as far as it does.

Governor Mike Morris

To put it simply, the movie puts forth that being naive has no place in current politics. Not only does it cloud your judgement, give you a false sense of pride or security, but it also keeps you from winning. Out of 73 Democrats that have ran for President, the movie states at one point, only 3 have won. That means, the movie says, that Republicans know how to run a political campaign, where even though their candidate may not be that great, they know how to approach the race realistically, how to energize their base, and how to discredit a candidate when they need to. So to compete with the Republicans, the Democrats need to move into real world, as it were. But to do that, you have to sell your soul to the devil. And of course, nothing good ever comes out of that.

4 out of 5 Stars

The Onion: America’s Finest (And Apparently Most Confusing) News Source

Established in 1988, The Onion started off in newspaper-form that found very limited success on college campuses in Wisconsin and Colorado, although this success could either be attributed to the satirical news stories, or the coupons that came with the paper. In 1996, the organization went global with the creation of their website, leaving their material to be consumed and mistake as real news by the general public. Notably, Westboro Baptist Church’s Fred Phelps used an Onion story as proof that homosexuals were in fact being recruited. Beijing’s paper posted an international story that featured Congress threatening to leave DC unless a new Capital Building was built. After demanding proof that the story was in fact false, the Beijing Evening News retracted the story saying:

“Some small American newspapers frequently fabricate offbeat news to trick people into noticing them with the aim of making money.”

Yes, The Onion has been confusing the heck out of people for a long time now. In 2007 they expanded their reach with video reports that have now expanded into a full-length news program for the Independent Film Channel. These videos garner hundreds of thousands of views, but still seem to confuse people, like this woman that bears a resemblance to Danica Patrick:

Here’s the video the Danica Patrick look-a-like feels sounds legit:

Harry Potter doesn’t in fact have an executive producer named Bryan Mitchell. References and photoshopped pictures of Variety and Ain’t It Cool News confirming the story are fake, used to give the story some fake credibility. The news network telling the story is not real, as you can tell by reading the ticker at the bottom that says “U.S. State Department advises China to try playing it a little cooler with the Tibet situation.” Oh wait, never-mind. Americans wouldn’t know that it was fake becasue they can’t point to Tibet on a map. I guess that would go with the headline they also had on the ticker, “Rand McNally unveils new map featuring only countries Americas give a s**t about.” Also, the trailer for the fake film was in fact, fake. Shocking, I know.

So how does The Onion keep doing this? How are Americans perpetually fooled by the silliest and most ridiculous stories? And what does it really say about the state of our nation? Here’s a rundown at the various reason:

  1. People Don’t Pay Attention: This is probably the most common reason. They see some sort of aggregation service or their their friends posting something that looks like a news story, so they read it without stopping to consider the source, the logic of the story, or how ridiculous it all sounds. After all, the real world can be weirder than The Onion, so we’re naturally more willing to believe weird things today than ever before. Besides, with news and surfing the internet moving faster than the speed of love, who has time to check or think? Read, post thoughts, spread. Done.
  2. People Don’t What The Onion Is: This is true for foreigners, people that don’t get our American sense of satire, or older people. That’s right, The Onion is kind of hip thing that the kids love. Fake news, why would somebody write that? One of the reasons that The Onion is financially successful in several sectors is the advertising they attract because of the 18-49 demo that flocks to the paper. Try to decipher the pixelated Facebook pictures of the people mistaking the stories and you will come to the conclusion that most, if not all of them are older.
  3. They’re Wanting To Believe It Anyways: When Fred Phelps saw The Onion, he was probably looking for something that conformed to his belief that homosexuality is bad. When people look for information to confirm and conform their previously held beliefs, the results almost never come out well, or truthfully. The Anti-Obama guy already thought of Obama as a nut, so when he saw The Onion reporting that Obama had overcome the urge to set off nuclear war yet again, the man thought he was confirmed in his belief that Obama was crazy.
  4. The Onion Is Just Very Convincing: Part of the reason why The Onion is so revered is the fact that they have a lot of talent working for them, whether it be their staff of writers, or former real Fox News anchor Suzanne Sena playing fake Onion News Network anchor Brooke Alverez. She knows the real world, so she knows how to be convincing in her parody of it. They’re all very professional, and very good at what they do. They’re not a kid in their basement; they’re paid professionals. Thus, the quality in their work shows.
  5. We Don’t Like To Research: This includes ordinary citizens taking something at face value, but it can even include the New York Times. Yes, THE NEW YORK TIMES. In a recent retrospective of Tiger Beat magazine, a teen-centered publication, the New York Times included past covers of the magazine, including an issue that included a “Giant Obama Poster Inside,” and a “quote” by the President saying “I Sing In The Shower.” This cover of course came from The Onion, forcing the New York Times to make a retraction. This was in April 2011, mind you.
  6. We’re Just Dumb: The Onion serves to make fun of our dumb world, issues, people, etc. It just happens that the people they’re making fun of happen occasionally read it. The resulting clash either signals that the world is not too far off from becoming a true Idiocracy, or the fact that our dumbness helps define us as a people, and we should try to learn for said dumbness, but most of all, laugh at it.

Also note that the magazine also promises more personal facts about Obama inside. Do tell Fake Tiger Beat!

When The Onion Is Seriously Peeled

Recently, a new blog was brought to my attention that chronicled a strange trend on the internet: The Onion being taken seriously. For those that don’t know, which is apparently a lot of people, The Onion is a satirical publication that during the age of the Internet, has became a shining beacon of comedy poking fun at society and all its strangeness, usually by making things more strange. If you went on the website right now for instance, you can read about NASCAR giving a driver money for making a homophobic comment, you know, because NASCAR is southern and therefore dislikes gays. You can read about how the new budget accidentally gave schools enough money to properly educate students, until Congress recognized the mistake. And depending on your mood, you can read a story about Helicopter mating season, with a picture depicting the act of Helicopter mating.

Anybody taking any of the above stories seriously would of course be hilarious, but it can also say a lot about the society The Onion so unmercifully satires. Let’s take a look, shall we?
The Israel controversy is the type of controversy that only a political junkie could love. It’s a story that involves a country that’s not our own, the US possibly making statements that it might or might not have a right in saying, and you know, it kind of involves the Middle East, which if the box office receipts of The Hurt Locker are any indication, Americans really hate looking at unless Tony Stark is there. This brings us to this man, who is clearly a political junkie since he clearly knows what the State Department is, and knows the happenings in it so much that he can clearly come to these opinions. Only thing is, you know, The Onion is fake and the government is kind of the one telling Israel to move borders. Pro-Israel supporters aren’t asking the nation to give up land, because you know, I’d think that’d be a negative action. In the end, this post confuses me more than anything. Moving on.

Can you imagine being this person? You have so little faith in your President that you feel that at any moment, on his whim, you could be evaporated in a radiated ball of nuclear glory. Yes, this is an example of somebody being so anti-Obama that he’s been driven stupidly insane. After all, it’s one thing to disagree with, and a whole bunch of giant leaps of “logic” to believe Obama is so nutty that he would destroy the whole world just for the heck of it. I imagine this guy’s picture of Obama actually resembles the Bond villain Blofeld, sitting in the Oval Office stroking his dog Bo, while burning Reagan photos while taking dumps in hallowed-out copies of his biography. Sure, this guy is on the Fringe of society and his political affiliations, but it’s kind of crazy that guys like this actually exist, and you know, vote. I wonder if this is how crazy Democrats picture Sarah Palin, with the added element of her decimating the aids-ravaged villages and poverty-striken peoples of Africa with an arsenal of chemical weapons.

Now, this is where the topic starts to get more serious. Although the blog is relatively new at chronicling these Onion reaction posts, by far the story that it captures most is called “Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex.” The story is about Planned Parenthood, recently off the high of Congress recently deciding to keep their funding, an issue this blog has already discussed, announcing plans to open a state-of-the-art “Abortionplex” in Kansas, that costs 8 billion dollars. In addition to being able to terminate a baby every 3-seconds, the complex also features a movie theater, restaurants, 3-story nightclub, retail outlets, shuttles from local schools directly to the complex, and it also has coffee shops, one of which I would assume is of course a Starbucks.

The story is of course satire, taking perceptions of Planned Parenthood to its consumerist extreme. After all, it seems crazy that anybody would build an 8 billion dollar anything nowadays, especially since the organization is non-profit. Also, the fact that anybody would go to it, or that there would be that many abortions, or that there would be a Lazy River that goes around the complex. But does that stop several people from taking the article seriously? Of course not, this is America.

First off, when you Google that quote, it comes up with pages of quotes that are attributed Mother Theresa, but were never actually said by Mother Theresa, mostly because the quote doesn’t make any sense. Secondly, is contraception really silent abortion? The Easter Bunny that was passing Condoms around my college campus would probably take issue with that. Thirdly, the war is punishment for man’s sins and repent crap reminds me a lot of the Rhetoric of Westboro Church member and frequent angry Tweeter, Megan Phelps. Fourthly, there’s a lot of stuff wrong the comment she adds afterwards. Let’s move on for time’s sake.

Your taxes will pay for a lot of stuff, but not entertainment complexes, especially ones that also happen to perform Abortions. Also notice that a separate person “Likes” the article, for reasons that are anonymous, and yet another separate person is roped into beleiving the articles validity in the comments.

Again, it’s a little Phelps-like, and again, they rope in another person to believe the article. Call me crazy, but wouldn’t “deceived” be too lite a word if this was actually taking place? I don’t know what a proper term would besides Weird, but Deceived just doesn’t seem to fit. Then there’s the part about abortions being “not normal.” Wait, that’s your argument? First off, of course “killing babies” is not normal, unless you’re in a population-controlling country like China (I kid!). Normal is one of the worst words in the English-language anyways, but used in this context just makes it fell… Wrong? Also, this person will be happy to know that this story is in fact, not true.

This post is great since it has two very different opinions by the poster and the yet-another-person roped into believing the article in the comments. First, off the poster’s comment on the last article refers to this “quote.”

“But after a couple of margaritas and a ride down the lazy river they’ve got circling the place, I got caught up in the vibe. By the time it was over, I almost wished I could’ve aborted twins and gotten to stay a little longer. I told my boyfriend we had to have sex again that very night,” Kolrath added. “I really want to come back over Labor Day.”

The interesting thing about the satire, and people taking it seriously, is that the subject-matter concerns people who would get an abortion and actually enjoying it because of the amenities in the facility. Could such a process ever be “fun” as these posters keep fearing? If it could ever be fun, could it ever be so fun that it would entice young women to have more abortions to keep coming back to the resort-like complex that is presumably paid through tax dollars and is free to them? Somehow I feel like the people that would actually partake in this as having something more than responsibility issues.

Now we come to the commenter that the poster roped in. All of these posts have had reactions that are either crazy, or have had statements that just don’t seem to fit the situation to me. This commenter seems to be the only one to take a realistic approach and reaction to it, even though they still seem to believe it, though through skeptical eyes.

The person isn’t blatantly anti-abortion like the rest of the people, but rather just uses the same language, “nauseous” in this case, to refer to the implications of it. An “Abortionplex” with a lazy river would be taking the act of abortion rather lightly, when it is anything but. Whatever take you have on the subject, I would hope that one would both take it seriously, and put some seriously thought into it. I suppose the whole issue does come down to responsibility after all, but besides the fact that it is an “Abortionplex,” it also takes a serious issue very lightly. The reasons to get an abortion usually deal with some horrific events that shouldn’t be surrounded by shopping and coffee excursions. Also, the commenter does make a good point in that the controversy surrounding it would be so great that it would never be built in the first place, privately-funded or publicly-funded. Remember the Mosque controversy? What about the Oklahoma City Bombings?

The point is, not everything should be put into an entertainment complex. Also, when you’re against something, there’s reasonable ways to approach issues that don’t either make you seem crazy, or just out there enough where the people you’re trying to persuade aren’t persuaded. See Megan Phelps on the wrong way to handle the issue. See Me for something resembling the right way.

So why do people take these clearly satirical articles seriously? That’s a whole other discussion altogether, and an also important one, but one that will be tackled at another time.