Saturday, September 6, 2014

Taste vs. Opinion, Fact vs. Opinion

We live in an age of babble. We recognize words but they are so frequently used in a manner inconsistent with their meaning, that we might as well be speaking different languages. The word “opinion” is used often but it is rarely used to convey the meaning it had a few decades ago.

Frequently, a presentation of facts is dismissed as opinion. “That's just your opinion.” Not always. Some statements transcend opinion. Lassie is a dog. Not an opinion. Lassie is a good or noble or smart or loving dog. Opinions.

Some people are unable to make the distinction between fact and opinion. Theirs is a world of like and dislike, of agree and disagree. Like if you agree.

Theirs is largely a subjective world. Yes, they know if they jump off a tall building, they will die. They know that if they drive too fast at certain places at certain times, they will be caught. However, the bulk of their mental processes is the selection of aesthetic preferences. Ginger or Mary Ann? Betty or Wilma? It is all a matter of taste.

Facts and opinion are equated but so too, are taste and opinion. There is the saying, “Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.” Not necessarily true. Everyone has a perspective. Everyone has a viewpoint. Everyone has a preference. But opinion?

Opinion involves at least a cursory examination of facts and at least a minimum of mental toil. Reflex, impulse and preference do not necessarily rise to a level of opinion. Opinion is not just choice, it is conscious choice. If the option is Coke or Pepsi, taste is all that matters. Ideally, opinion is paramount in the selection of political and religious leaders. But back at Jonestown...

Taste = Opinion
Opinion = Fact
Ergo, Taste = Fact

America has selected a religious leader in much the same way an infant selects an object to put in his mouth. That shiny quarter was just so pretty.

We sometimes hear the term “informed opinion.” That might not be a flagrant redundancy but truth is, opinion requires information. Without information, we have only our taste to guide us. Without, information, we have Barack Obama. Without information, we have Jonestown.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Rest In Peace, Joan

I will miss Joan Rivers. Joan Rivers the person was even more impressive than Joan Rivers the performer. I wanted to post something about Robin Williams after his death but there were too many facets to that story. Ultimately, his life's memory will be eclipsed by his suicide. I am a moral relativist and I believe that if a person has to endure chronic, incurable pain, maybe Dr. Kevorkian had a point. Having said that, Robin Williams just did not win my sympathy.

Joan Rivers could have gone out like Robin Williams. Her life was a roller coaster. She scraped and scratched and clawed her way to the top. Bob Dylan wrote a memoir of the magic days of Greenwich Village. Imagine a place where Bob and Joan and Richard Pryor and Tiny Tim shared table scraps. Joan believed that no gig was too small. She simply would not turn down work. This ethic, this energy, would stay with her to the very end.

Joan Rivers found herself on top of the world in the third decade of her career. She had her own talk show and BOOM! Her show got cancelled, Fox stonewalled on the money they owed her and her husband committed suicide. Logically, Rivers should have been crushed. Her spirit never wavered.

From the abyss, Rivers launched perhaps the biggest comeback in entertainment history. If you could reduce Joan Rivers to one word, that word would be "work!" No gig was too small. When no one returned her calls, Rivers starting hawking jewelry on a home shopping network. That paid the bills until she got a guest shot here, a guest shot there, and soon the foundation was rebuilt.

The Grim Reaper was the only force to slow Rivers down. Her resume is just too much to rehash here. She reinvented herself as a catty celebrity watcher. I have to admit she lost me at some point. I don't even know these red carpet people much less do I know of fashion faux pas. But Rivers found her audience and I respect that.

I do have good memories of Rivers, especially in her exchanges with Johnny Carson, Betty White and Howard Stern. I have a soft spot for people who make me laugh and Joan would be at the top of that list. To reiterate, her secret of success was pretty damn simple. Just work ten times harder than everyone else and perhaps luck will find you. Rest in peace, Joan.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Who Is This Obama Chap?

When passions run hot, they sometimes blur our judgment. Barack Obama, his minions, his administration, his press corps, his loyalists are so absurdly vitriolic that we cannot expect mild manners to return to civil discourse. So, yes it is hard to be objective about Barack Obama.

Still, we have to ask ourselves, who is this guy? Six years into the Obama Presidency, we have a clearer vision of David Cameron than Barack Obama. For that matter we know Bebe Netanyahu and Vladmimir Putin better than we know the stranger in the White House. Hell, we know Angela Merkel and Stephen Harper better than we know Obama.

When they commission the Obama Presidential Portrait they should allow one artist to work on it for a day then fire that artist and replace him with a second artist to work on the same canvas. Give him his 24 hours and replace him with another artist using the same canvas. After eight years and 2920 scribblers later, we will have a valid artistic rendition of our 44th president.

At times it seems like our president is a character who has been zapped into the wrong story. As if Hamlet wandered into a Tom Clancy novel. He was just diggin on that soliloquy when he got teletransported into The White House. Shades of Howard the Duck. Dagwood stuck in "Peanuts." Dagwood may or not be smarter than these wise children but everything he says sounds like "wawawawawa" to them.

Something we have to acknowledge is that Barack Obama brought no leadership experience to the White House. None. That is irrefutable. Zero executive experience.

The president does not read intelligence briefings? Could be that he is overwhelmed by the job. George Bush 41 and Jimmy Carter brought impressive resumes to the office and they got chewed up by the position. I am not being snide but what kind of realistic expectations should we have for a community organizer?

No leadership? Poor organizational skills? Hostile personality? We have to ask those questions. And there is one more question that needs to be considered. Is Barack Obama really an intellectual? Is he even half as smart as he is reported to be? If so, will he ever show us his brilliance? Ever?

Yes, we should screen our presidents closely. In this case, we bought the myth without scrutiny. Will we ever seriously ask, "Who is Barack Obama?"

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Superficiality Over Substance

Superficiality Over Substance

Usually one refers to style over substance but superficiality includes all things style related and it also includes those matters that are not of human invention. If one wishes to assign preferential treatment to physical characteristics, one is rewarding superficiality, not style.

We also note that some of what is being said here overlaps with Sentiment vs. Reason. The two struggles are neither synonymous nor mutually exclusive. Sentiment favors superficiality and reason favors substance—physical evidence, factual knowledge, rational discourse, and logic.

I was a small child, not sure what age, when I questioned the merits of celebrity endorsements. Sure, it made some sense that baseball players would endorse bats or gloves and Ted Williams, the consummate angler, would also promote fishing rods. But even then I was not willing to dismiss Zebco or Shakespeare or some off-brand lacking a high-priced shill. Way back when, I preferred left brained methods of persuasion.

Whereas I advocate for substance in matters of import, I am not so style deaf as to miss the advantages of securing the right product spokesman. Jon Hamm is the perfect Mercedes-Benz voice-over. After all, Jon Hamm IS Don Draper, television's version of Jay Gatsby in all of his mysterious elegance. Would the Mercedes stockholders be better served by a McCain supporter—Wilfred Brimley or Pat Boone or Chuck Norris? I think not. Jon Hamm is the perfect pitchman and if I were Don Draper I would probably support Barack Obama if only to keep up appearances.

It makes sense that Kim Kardashian is on a package of cosmetic items because she knows a thing or two about looking good. It makes sense that Jay-Z might endorse a telephone because he probably places a premium on audio resolution and technical reliability. And Adam Levine suffered and prevailed over the heartache of acne, so of course his imprimatur is well worth considering. But when hordes of celebrities endorse a political candidate based on the belief that he is metaphysically different from the rest of humanity and roughly one out of six adults are illiterate, we are on the fast track to Jonestown.

Many of us subscribe to a conspiracy of ignorance but we point our fingers at different culprits. George Carlin famously blamed capitalists who in his view had a vested interest in cultivating a stupid consumer base. I disagree.

American industry would love to have a strong native talent pool. Unfortunately, WalMart does not run our public schools. We know who runs the show and who has the vested interest in actively promoting ignorance. They reaped the benefits in 2008 and again in 2012.

Let me refer you to Wikipedia's Copyright Policy. Per their instructions I am providing the pertinent URLs. At any rate, I should be covered by fair use privilege as one cannot adequately discuss a snapshot without displaying the snapshot in question.

The usual caveats. Wikipedia is about ninety per cent accurate but we are not performing brain surgery. In this case it's a hurricane and I will leave it to the experts to name and categorize the storm. We don't require a meteorologist to recognize the direction of the turbulence. From Wikipedia's list of 2008 and 2012 Obama supporters, one glaring inclusion is Bob Dylan, whom we will discuss shortly. For our purposes the scale and scope of the discussion is served by Wikipedia with whatever details they might have flubbed.

Before we pass judgment on the Jonestown cheerleaders let us acknowledge that some Obama supporters might be acting in their own rational self interest. It might seem foolish (and reckless and counter to the very best of American principles) to attend a $35,000/head Obama fundraiser. To those who aspire to be one of the Beautiful People in all of that group's perks and benefits, to have one's name swirled in the crème de la crème of the overclass, it is a small price to pay.

Do remember that Barack Obama is an enduring fashion accessory. In a subculture that values pricey status symbols, there is no faster route up the social staircase than an endorsement of “The One.”

Some of the listed actors might have supported Barack Obama just to preserve their livelihood. This was crucial for NBC employees. General Electric, NBC's former parent company, had a long list for Santa Claus. They wanted to continue their lucrative defense contracts. They wanted to expand their wind turbine operations. They didn't want to pay no stinkin taxes and they wanted the Department of Justice to approve their sale of NBC Universal to Comcast.

That last favor was the big ticket item. Comcast would ultimately shell out in excess of $30 billion for NBC Universal. To curry favor with the Obama Administration, NBC blended politics into the entertainment mix. They committed all NBC news outlets to promoting a pro-Obama agenda. In so doing, they ramped up the partisanship at MSNBC to Pravda levels playing fast and loose with basic facts. For twenty four hours a day MSNBC would relentlessly attack Obama's enemies, his rivals, his critics and anyone who might slightly disagree with him. In the Obama era I can only remember one NBC journalist—Rick Santelli at CNBC—who broke ranks and he quickly toned it down.

$30 billion is a lot of clams and it was worth it to GE to promote a poorly-rated cable channel that would please the administration. You can bet NBC Entertainment got the memo. So let us not be too harsh on Lorne Michaels or Jimmy Fallon or Tina Fey for their subservience. Pimp Daddy Jeffrey Immelt ran a tight ship.

Wikipedia lists 54 entertainers—actors, actresses, musicians, screenwriters and directors—who endorsed John McCain in 2008. The same source lists 195 actors and actresses alone who endorsed Barack Obama. But what McCain lacked in quantity, he made up for he didn't!

Let us examine the busload of McCain supporters.


María Conchita Alonso, actress[111]
Stephen Baldwin, actor[112]
Pat Boone, singer[113]
Powers Boothe, actor[114]
Wilford Brimley, actor[115]
Jerry Bruckheimer, producer[113]
James Caan, actor[113]
Dean Cain, actor[113]
Adam Carolla, comedian, television and radio host[116]
Lacey Chabert, actress[116]
Jon Cryer, actor[113]
Daddy Yankee (Ramon Ayala), musician[117][118]
Charlie Daniels, musician[119]
Robert Davi, actor[120]
Robert Duvall, actor[113]
Clint Eastwood, actor and director[121]
Erik Estrada, actor[122]
Joe Eszterhas, screenwriter[123]
Lou Ferrigno, actor and bodybuilder[124]
Kelsey Grammer, actor[125]
Lee Greenwood, musician, often performed "God Bless the USA" at McCain/Palin rallies[126]
Angie Harmon, actress[127]
Elisabeth Hasselbeck, co-host of The View[128]
Patricia Heaton, actress[113]
Victoria Jackson, comedian[129]
Lorenzo Lamas, actor[113]
Blackie Lawless, musician[130]
Gerald McRaney, actor[113]
Dennis Miller, comedian[131]
Heidi Montag, Hollywood figure[132]
Craig T. Nelson, actor[113]
George Newbern, actor[113]
Chuck Norris, actor[133]
Ted Nugent, hard rock guitarist[134]
Gail O'Grady, actress[113]
John Ondrasik, singer[135]
Joe Perry, guitarist for Aerosmith[136]
John Ratzenberger, actor[137]
John Rich, musician[138]
Shauna Sand, actress[139]
Tom Selleck, actor[140]
Gary Sinise, actor[113]
Kevin Sorbo, actor[113]
Sylvester Stallone, actor[141]
Connie Stevens, actress[142]
Rip Torn, actor[140]
Cowboy Troy, musician[143]
Janine Turner, actress and author[144]
Dick Van Patten, actor[145]
Jon Voight, actor[146]
Hank Williams, Jr. musician, often performed at McCain/Palin rallies[147]
Gretchen Wilson, musician, often performed at McCain/Palin rallies[126]
James Woods, actor[148]
David Zucker, director[116]

There is something to be said for getting Methuselah on one's side but when you outlive your audience, it might limit your political clout. Wilford Brimley played a geezer in the 1980's and there was a time when he could have mustered the Depends crowd. So too, there was a time when he could have parlayed his status as pitchman for Liberty Medical to deliver the brittle diabetic vote but that was eons ago and I am afraid the sun might have set on Wilford's power base.

Of course, McCain got Pat Boone's endorsement. That's got to be five or six votes right there. And Rip Torn, probably twice that number. Dick Van Patten? Eight is close enough. And of course Chuck Norris fought gallantly to capture the dimwit bloc, but Obama's stranglehold was much too strong.

Now let us turn our attention to the throngs of celebrity who endorsed Barack Obama in 2008. The 195 actors and actresses, the 20 comedians, the 24 directors, the 142 bands and recording artists as well as TV and radio figures, ladies and gentlemen your 2008 Obama Celebrities!!!


Entertainers and Artists[edit]
Actors and actresses[edit]
Ben Affleck
Shohreh Aghdashloo[536]
Jessica Alba[537]
Jennifer Aniston[538]
David Arquette[539]
Penn Badgley[540]
Alec Baldwin[541]
Eric Balfour[542]
Antonio Banderas[543]
Elizabeth Banks[544]
Drew Barrymore[545]
Jason Bateman
Jennifer Beals[546]
Noah Bean[547]
Kristen Bell[548]
Maria Bello[493]
Annette Bening[549]
Halle Berry[550][551]
Jessica Biel[552]
Jack Black[553]
Matthew Broderick[554]
Adam Brody[555]
Josh Brolin[544][556]
Pierce Brosnan[404]
Ellen Burstyn[366]
Sophia Bush[557]
Nick Cannon[558]
Justin Chambers[559]
Don Cheadle[560]
Kristin Chenoweth[561]
John Cleese[562]
George Clooney[563]
James Corden[564]
Bill Cosby[565]
Kevin Costner[566]
Courteney Cox-Arquette[539]
Daniel Craig[567]
Cindy Crawford[568]
Chris Crocker[569]
James Cromwell[570]
Alan Cumming[571]
Jamie Lee Curtis[404]
Tim Daly[572]
Matt Damon[573][574]
Ted Danson[575]
Larry David[576]
Rosario Dawson[577]
Laura Dern[578]
Robert De Niro[579]
Zooey Deschanel[580]
Danny DeVito[581]
Cameron Diaz[539]
Leonardo DiCaprio
Taye Diggs[552]
Fran Drescher[582]
Kirsten Dunst[583][584]
Megalyn Echikunwoke[585]
Aaron Eckhart[539]
Idris Elba[586]
Tracee Ellis Ross[587]
Isla Fisher[588]
Kate Flannery[589]
Jodie Foster[404]
Jamie Foxx[590]
Brendan Fraser[591]
Morgan Freeman[592]
Anna Friel[560]
Jennifer Garner[593]
Danny Glover[594]
Joseph Gordon-Levitt[595]
Topher Grace[549]
Bryan Greenberg[592]
Andre Gregory[366]
Adrian Grenier[596]
Andy Griffith[597]
Melanie Griffith[598]
Jasmine Guy[587]
Luis Guzmán[599]
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Mark Hamill[600]
Josh Hamilton[601]
Tom Hanks[602]
Hill Harper[603]
Valerie Harper[604]
Ed Harris
Anne Hathaway[577]
Dennis Haysbert[536]
Dulé Hill[605]
Gary Holt [606][unreliable source?]
Dennis Hopper[607]
Kelly Hu[608]
Jennifer Hudson[609]
Kate Hudson[610]
Josh Hutcherson[611]
Samuel L. Jackson[542][612]
Scarlett Johansson[613]
Angelina Jolie[614]
Rashida Jones[549]
Ashley Judd[615][616]
Brendan Kay[536]
Daniel Dae Kim[187]
Regina King[617]
Christopher Knight[618]
Michael Kostroff[619]
Ashton Kutcher[620]
Ken Leung[621]
Lucy Liu[536]
Blake Lively[540]
Lindsay Lohan[622]
Nia Long[623]
Eva Longoria[624][625]
George Lopez[626]
Julia Louis-Dreyfus[627]
Josh Lucas[549]
Tobey Maguire[578]
James Marsters[628]
Rue McClanahan[629]
Anne Meara[581]
Alyssa Milano[630]
Demi Moore[631]
Julianne Moore[632]
Benjamin McKenzie[626]
Enrique Murciano[542]
Eddie Murphy[633]
Mike Ness[634]
Thandie Newton[544]
Cynthia Nixon[635]
Amaury Nolasco[636]
Edward Norton[573]
Ed O'Neill[637]
Al Pacino
Gwyneth Paltrow[638]
Hayden Panettiere[639][640]
Sarah Jessica Parker[641]
Bill Paxton[642]
Mario Van Peebles[582]
Amanda Peet[643]
Kal Penn[585][644]
Sean Penn[645]
Harold Perrineau, Jr.[542]
Ryan Phillippe[646]
Chris Pine[647]
Jada Pinkett Smith[648]
Brad Pitt[649]
Jeremy Piven[650]
Sidney Poitier[651]
Ellen Pompeo[652][653]
Natalie Portman[654]
Jaime Pressly[539]
Dennis Quaid[568]
Queen Latifah[655]
Zachary Quinto[605]
Carl Reiner[604]
Ryan Reynolds[552]
Nicole Richie[656]
Chris Rock[657]
Adam Rodriguez[658]
Brandon Routh[659]
Paul Rudd[660]
Susan Sarandon[375]
Richard Schiff[661]
Johnathon Schaech[542]
Martin Sheen[662]
Alicia Silverstone[663]
Will Smith[648][664]
Phil Spector[665]
Lexington Steele[666]
Mary Steenburgen[667]
Ben Stiller[538]
Jerry Stiller[604]
Meryl Streep[668]
Rider Strong[669]
Donald Sutherland[670]
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa[187]
Charlize Theron[671]
Marisa Tomei[539]
Chris Tucker[672]
Kathleen Turner[673]
Wilmer Valderrama[577]
Amber Valletta[658]
Kate Walsh[674]
Denzel Washington[675]
Isaiah Washington[582]
Kerry Washington[672]
Wil Wheaton[676]
Bradley Whitford[677]
James Whitmore[644]
Forest Whitaker[678][679]
Olivia Wilde[585][680]
Gene Wilder
Debra Winger
Henry Winkler[681]
Alfre Woodard[587]
Daniel Wu[682]
Renée Zellweger[683]
Aziz Ansari[684]
Russell Brand[685]
Margaret Cho[686]
Will Ferrell[404]
Larry Gelbart[581]
Kathy Griffin[536]
Chelsea Handler[687]
Steve Harvey
John Leguizamo[626]
Richard Lewis[688]
Bill Maher[689]
Tracy Morgan[690]
Lorne Michaels[691]
Eugene Mirman[684]
Sarah Silverman[404]
Hal Sparks[692]
Stella (Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter, David Wain)[660]
Wanda Sykes[693]
Lizz Winstead, co-creator of The Daily Show[601]
Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show[601]
J. J. Abrams[694]
Lexi Alexander[695]
Woody Allen[543]
David Benioff[643]
Ken Burns[696][697]
Eric Byler[698]
Jesse Dylan[699]
William Friedkin[366]
Todd Haynes[366]
Ron Howard[404]
Callie Khouri[700]
Spike Lee[701]
George Lucas[577][702]
David Lynch[703]
James Mangold[366]
Garry Marshall[604]
Michael Moore[704][705]
Rob Reiner[568]
John Sayles[366]
M. Night Shyamalan[706]
Steven Spielberg[404]
Oliver Stone[544]
Quentin Tarantino[549]
Boaz Yakin[581]
Christie Brinkley[707]
Adrianne Curry[618]
Heidi Klum[708]
50 Cent[709]
Arcade Fire[710]
Burt Bacharach[711]
Beastie Boys[712]
Billie Joe Armstrong[713]
Big Kenny[714]
Andrew Bird[715]
Biz Markie[536]
The Black Keys[712]
Black Thought of The Roots[716]
The Breeders[712]
Carrie Brownstein, guitarist for Sleater-Kinney[717]
Melanie Brown[536]
Jackson Browne
Jimmy Buffett[718]
Win Butler[719]
Nick Cannon[658]
Mariah Carey[720]
Chris Carrabba[721]
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah[580]
Kelly Clarkson[722]
Cold War Kids[580]
Natalie Cole[723]
Sean Combs[725]
Harry Connick, Jr.[568]
David Crosby[713]
Sheryl Crow[726][727]
The Decemberists[728]
Tom DeLonge[729]
Celine Dion[730]
DJ Z-Trip[731]
Bob Dylan[732]
Melissa Etheridge[734]
Donald Fagen (Steely Dan)
The Fiery Furnaces[601]
Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers[735]
John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants[736]
David Foster[568]
Jay Jay French, guitarist for Twisted Sister[737]
Ben Harper[578]
Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie[738]
Goo Goo Dolls[644]
Kim Gordon[739]
Macy Gray[740]
Merle Haggard[741]
Mickey Hart, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead (Deadheads for Obama)[742]
Herbie Hancock[658]
Faith Hill[743]
Jennifer Hudson[609]
Jim James of My Morning Jacket[744]
Jay Red Eagle[745]
Young Jeezy
Stephan Jenkins[746]
Billy Joel[748]
Alicia Keys[725]
Carole King[749]
Beyoncé Knowles[701]
Glenn Kotche of Wilco[750]
Ed Kowalczyk[658]
Leo Kremer[746]
Kris Kristofferson[751]
Amel Larrieux[752]
Cyndi Lauper[753]
Annie Lennox[754]
Les Savy Fav[601]
Jenny Lewis[580]
John Legend[755]
Adam Levine of Maroon 5[756]
Joel Madden of Good Charlotte[656]
Chris Martin of Coldplay[758]
Dave Matthews[746]
Master P[747]
Michael McDonald[577]
Tim McGraw[759]
Katharine McPhee
John Mellencamp[713]
Mos Def[760]
Nada Surf[580]
Graham Nash[712]
Immortal Technique
The National[712]
Willie Nelson
Joanna Newsom[366]
No Age[762]
OK Go[763]
Conor Oberst[764]
Don Omar[765]
Pearl Jam[766]
Peter, Paul, and Mary
Questlove of The Roots[716]
Bonnie Raitt
Johnathan Rice[580]
Rise Against
Samantha Ronson[622]
Nile Rodgers[366]
Pat Sansone of Wilco[750]
Tom Scholz, guitarist of Boston[770]
Patti Scialfa[771]
Shudder to Think[763]
Silversun Pickups[580]
Russell Simmons[773]
Ashlee Simpson[539]
Patti Smith[774]
Jill Sobule[746]
Regina Spektor[775]
Bruce Springsteen[776][777]
Mavis Staples[778]
Michael Stipe[779]
Barbra Streisand[404][780]
James Taylor[781]
Tenacious D (Jack Black and Kyle Gass)[553]
Justin Timberlake[782][783]
TV on the Radio[784]
Jeff Tweedy of Wilco[764]
Andres Useche[785]
Vampire Weekend[712]
Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie[713]
Tegan and Sara[787]
Joan Wasser[763]
Rufus Wainwright[549]
Roger Waters[788]
Pete Wentz[789][790][658]
Pharell Williams[426]
Stevie Wonder[791]
Television & radio personalities[edit]

Perez Hilton[792]
Star Jones[577]
Kim Kardashian[793]
Yul Kwon[794]
Lisa Ling[795]
Judith Sheindlin[796]
Michael Smerconish[797]
Howard Stern[798]
Emme Tomingbang[187]
Oprah Winfrey[799]

Hold the applause for a second. Wiki lists Bob Dylan as an Obama supporter in 2008 and again in 2012.! Wrong! Besmirch someone else's artistic integrity, if you must. Bob's idiot son, Jesse, endorsed Obama but Bob is apolitical on principle. The last protest he attended was when Martin Luther King delivered his infamous "I Have A Dream " speech in 1963. Bob sat out all of the Vietnam protests and all the orther civil rights marches ("Equality, I spoke their word as if a wedding vowwowwow") and he even sat out the no-nukes fad.

Jimmy Carter called Bob Dylan his friend but he never gort his endorsement. In an interview that went absolutely weird, a "Rolling Stone" hack badgered and harrassed the songwriter in an effort to muscle an endorsement for Barack Hussein Obama. Bob refused.

The interrogator pressed onward. He called Obama's opponents racist—that is why they don't like Obama—and all but demanded Bob's sanction. Bob Dylan, an artist of supreme integrity, refused.

I can still listen to Bob, especially "Blonde on Blonde" and "Blood on The Tracks." (If you are into Dark Side of The Rainbow, synchronicity, try syncing up "Idiot Wind" to the muted videos of "We Are The Ones" and "I Pledge Allegiance To Obama" played back to back.) Bruce Springsteen is another matter.

Bruce, you don't owe me a thing. Nill. Nada. Zero. Zilch. But Barry Soetoro?

One soft infested summer
Me and Barry became friends
Trying in vain to breathe
The fire we born in

But don't you have some obligation to me, maintain some standards? Some standards, Bruce?

Laying here in the dark
You're like an angel on my chest
Just another tramp of hearts
Crying tears of faithlessness

OK, rub salt in my wounds. But we had memories, Bruce. Memories that no one could spoil. No one. No one but you.

Hiding on the backstreets
Hiding on the backstreets...

Backstreets my ass! You were jetting around Air Force 1 with your phony ass charlatan. Rub it in my face! You don't see any irony that the guy who gave us “Blinded By The Light,” a masterpiece that perfectly encapsulated the religious cult phenomenon, would fall for the sleaziest, cheesiest cult leader in the history of Planet Earth?

Barry let me in, I wanna be your friend
I want to guard your dreams and visions

I forgave you for everything you did since “Nebraska.” Everything! You could have left me with the memories. Just “Kitty's Back” and “Spirits In The Night.” You had to ruin them too?

One soft infested summer
Me and Barry became friends...


Oh look! Wilco is here! Real artists with real integrity whoring out to the biggest corporate whore America has ever produced.

Goldman Sachs (donated $1,013,091)
JP Morgan Chase ($847,895)
Google Inc. ($814,540)
Microsoft Corporation ($852,164)
General Electric ($529,855)

Wilco did fundraisers for Obama. Why not cut out the middle man and rattle the cup for Goldman Sachs?

<JP Morgan is cited at Others are also listed at>

Not that I have anything against corporate whores or corporations or “corporatism, “ but now that we are here in the land of the corporate bashers I would like to point out that when you hire the services of Lefty Celebrity, you usually hire the services of the corporation that is Lefty Celebrity. Just a little side bar. Let's get back to the Beautiful People who brought us to Jonestown.

Looking back on my life, I came to realize that both the friends I chose and the public figures I admired had one thing in common: They all had active bullshit detectors. My friends did not grow up to become Hare Krishnas or Moonies or LaRouchians. My friends have usually been the antithesis of the Obama worshipper.

I learned to read by reading “Mad” and that exercise nurtured a certain sceptisicm. I would later expand my cultural horizons to include “National Lampoon” and P. J. O'Rourke remains a hero. He always seems to recharge his BS detector.

Howard Stern led a vigilante movement against all things phony. You were my hero, Howard. You ran away from the genius label but that term fit you perfectly. Geniuses are not necessarily clever, they are honest. You slammed every show biz convention. If the publicist told you, “Don't ask them if they're gay,” you started the interview with, “So are you guys gay, or what?'

You Howard, exposed the humorlessness of humorous people. Remember Chevy Chase's ongoing bout with PMS? Remember the time his wife got on the phone and Chevy screamed for her to hang up but she kept on talking? Didn't MTV ban you for life? Remember when you took over “The Tonight Show” and NBC refused to air the segment?

Remember Stuttering John interviewing Walter Cronkite and remember when he got tossed out of The Ebony Awards at the request of David Bowie and when he got punched by Sharon Stone's bodyguard? Remember when Captain Janks pledged a half million dollars to the CP Telethon in Kathy Lee Gifford's name? He didn't even sound like a woman and they swallowed the bait!

It was you against the world with tiny people like me cheering you on. But when the biggest bullshit artist in history arrived on the scene, you drank the Kool-Aid. Et tu, Howard?

When the chips were down, you sold out. You are just one more Jay Conan Imus. I will not follow you to satellite. Fortunately, your greatest hits are still on YouTube.

And you, Dave. Wiki did not list you as an Obamacist but you were in the tank for him all the way. Giant sigh. Conan and Kimmel and Fallon will never know what it was like to be David Letterman in the 80's. For that matter, Jay Leno with all of his fabulous ratings will never have the rabid following you had back then.

I know of someone who landed a job because he was a Letterman fan. You were a conversation starter. “Did you see Stupid Pet Tricks where that dog...” “Did you see Stupid Human Tricks where that guy...” ”Did you see fish cleaning night?” Yours was the only cult I ever joined.

You were fearless. Remember when you disrupted Jane Pauley's interview with a bullhorn? Remember when you pointed your cameras on the NBC studio while the anchorman read the news? Remember your feud with Bryant Gumbel?

Your bullshit detector was spot on. If a guest sucked, you let them know it. If they were plugging a silly movie or TV show, you let them know how you felt about it, even when the show aired on NBC. No bullshit got past Dave.

In 2008, the biggest con artist in history arrived on the scene and David Letterman counted his money. You would be in good company. There would be no levity in Jonestown.

The one person who actually called Barack Hussein Obama on his bullshit was Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin vintage 2008 was the closest thing alive to Letterman vintage 1985. And of course, you loyally trashed Palin and her family. It's sad when a comedian loses his courage. Welcome to Jonestown, Dave.

I go way back with you, Bill Maher. I can remember when you were funny. I remember when “Politically Incorrect” was just that. You would confront any and all purveyors of bullshit, be it a sloganeering conservative or an angry feminist. Your humor was premised on brutal honesty.

Somewhere along the line, “Politically Incorrect” became the most politically correct show on television. And you sang from the Hollywood hymnal. You grew wealthy and angry and you spent all of your time telling Americans just how stupid they all happened to be.

Then Barack Hussein Obama arrived on the scene and you described him as a really, really, really really (was it 3 reallys or 4 reallys?) smart guy. Based on what, we will never find out. But your loyalty would never waver and you tirelessly berated his critics. You even pledged one million dollars to Obama's 2012 campaign.

It's your money and your Kool-Aid and you have secured a comfortable place in Jonestown, Bill. Bill Maher, the social critic too intellectual for religion jumps head first into the world's hottest religious cult. I wish the funny man would return.

Artists are supposed to have superior insight into the human condition. But if an artist falls for cheap propaganda, if he blindly follows someone he knows nothing about, if he believes a politician is divine because he has a halo photoshopped around his head, does he really possess insight? Is he really an artist?

I will always love “Pulp Fiction” and “Kill Bill” and “Reservoir Dogs” were enjoyable but I doubt if I will ever see any Tarantino movies after 2008. If he was duped by Mr. Hope and Change, the bloom is off the rose. There will be films in Jonestown but I won't be in the cinema. My love for movies fades to black. To quote another Obamacist, Jackson Browne:

When you see through love's illusions there lies the danger
When your perfect lover just looks like a perfect fool

Hollywood was my perfect lover but the popcorn will never taste the same. Oh well. “Star Wars VII” will do fine without me.

There is a corollary of Thorstein Veblen's conspicuous consumption streaming through Jonestown. We can call it conspicuous immunity. That is, one can advertise their success by showing indifference to trivialities like the costs of housing or education or health care. You got a house and you don't need no stinking degrees and you will always have access to the best doctors no matter what plan might be inflicted on the little people.

Conspicuous immunity can be expressed by indifference to fuel costs. We don't need a stinkin pipeline. We don't need no drilling. “My other car is a Prius.” Let them fly coach.

You need not concern yourself with how deficits endanger the stability of public pensions, You are in a bulletproof industry so who needs a vibrant economy? You have a few dollars in the bank. Why show concern for prosperity? So declasse.

You need not worry about the value of the dollar if you have diversified overseas. Who cares about rising food prices? Let them eat tofu. You can afford to support a politician who shares your indifference.

Among these highly successful artists are many who concern themselves more with relatitve wealth than absolute wealth. It is not enough that they win, others must lose. Why aspire to a lifestyle of the rich and famous if the middle class can match their opulence? The Uglies have to be put in their place.

There is a rivalry between the prosperous and those who yearn to prosper. Hollywood honors the Warren Buffett Doctrine that those who have ascended the ladder should saw off the rungs beneath them. Hollywood loves Barack Obama. Nothing says “I got mine but I will share my middle finger with you,” like a public allegiance to Barack Obama.

Not all Obama supporters are posers but all posers are Obama supporters. What a lovely assortment of dedicated Obamacists, the compulsively stylish, the socially mobile, the seekers of status. There are a few surprises listed above.

Devo? Did “Freedom of Choice” mean nothing?

Eminem? You mean Marshall acknowledged the existence of another human being who was not all mean to him? That might be Barack Obama's most amazing achievement.

Looks like Cindy Crawford is the only celebrity who was pro-Obama in 2008 and pro-Romney in 2012. Cindy has a brain and a conscience to go along with her other attributes.

Kelly Clarkson? Oh why single her out for her lack of depth? Shallow and superficial describes every Obama supporter. At least you are not shallow by choice, Kelly.

Justin Timberlake? Shedding that boy band image. JT, down for the struggle.

Adam Levine? The vapid salutes the vacuous.

Ben Affleck? Hate to break it to you, dude, but you'll never be half as smug as Matt Damon. But keep doing those Obama fundraisers and you will successfully cultivate a sense of superiority. You just have to believe in yourself and your own native arrogance.

Larry David? Did you know he owns a Prius? Hope your worship of Obama goes better than your allegiance to Al Gore. Did you know he owns a Prius?

Leonardo DiCaprio? Someday the Beautiful People will let you in their clubhouse, man. Keep jetting around the world screaming about carbon outputs and they will come to love you. You just have to be a little bit superficial, man.

Robert Deniro? We got it, man. You are better than us. Don't hit us with your wallet, Bobby!

Jamie Foxx? A sincere Obamacist. “...our lord and savior, Barack Obama.”

Jimmie Fallon? Really? You work for NBC and you support Obama? You sure hid that one!

Kevin Bacon? Oh man! We thought you were one of the people. Hope the caviar tastes good.

Jeff Bridges? Oh man! You seem so genuine. I guess you really are a great actor.

Brian Cranston? Oh man! You don't come across as a poser and you seem too smart to fall for the corny stagecraft. You too are a great actor.

Matt Damon? This should surprise no one. You are Good Will Hunting and Good Will Hunting is Hollywood. Matt Will Hollywood is not just smarter than everyone else, he is infinitely smarter than everyone else. And he is smarter in all areas and all categories. He not only solves the insolvable math problem, he crushes the pesky grad student in a barroom debate and tells the NSA to stick it (so unlike your deity, Barack Obama, who used the NSA to spy on all of us) because he is too shrewd to be fooled by their trickery.
With smarts, comes anger. Seething, frothing rage at the frustrations of being so damn clever in a stupid world. Who can get past your hostility? Not a minister or a scholar or a professor. Matt Will Hollywood is too brilliant for them. A therapist, someone who wants to talk about Matt and nothing but Matt, pierces his armor.
Good Will Hunting” was a portent of the rise of Barack Obama with Bill Ayers subbing for Robin Williams in real life. Some of us will think of “Team America: World Police” when your name is brought up but the Beautiful People will always love Matt Will Hollywood. I could see where you, and Hollywood as well, could see a lot of yourself in Barack Obama.

Obama added even more star power in 2012 as Mitt Romney picked up the Osmonds and Kid Rock and Vanilla Ice as well as the surviving Republicans who supported McCain in 2008. Superficiality would carry the day once more in 2012. America in the Obama Era is England in the 60's 70's and 80's. Greatness had been fleeing Great Britain and she would eventually lose out on shipbuilding, aircraft, automobiles and other manufacturing. But through the fog, England had become Style Central and the world could not get enough.

Yes, there was a surplus of supreme musical talent that still boggles the mind. The Beatles are still the only band I know of whose every member could sing lead, play instruments and write songs. A producer could toss out Lennon and McCartney, add a decent bass player and come up with a group as good and as commercial as say, the Hollies.

And there would be Clapton and Townsend and Page and Waters taking an American art form and making it distinctly British. For all of those heavyweights there was also a steady stream of Dave Clarks and Vicious Sids and Boys George. The world's thirst was unquenchable.

Beatle cuts and mod clothing and punk style and new wave fashion spread globally. Ostentatiously British novels like R. F. Delderfield's “God Is An Englishman,” The “Flashman” series, works by Dick Francis and Barbara Cartland sold well wherever the Queen's language was spoken. British cigarettes and knick knacks sold well, especially in the former colonies. If you needed a logo, the Union Jack worked just about everywhere it was used. British television series were a major export and the success of the over the top Britisher-than-thou, “Chariots of Fire” left a lot of marketing people scratching their heads.

Fast forward to the Obama Era and America is the trendsetting hot bed. Yes, the Brits still have Adelle and Harry Potter and Cute Royals and they can always find one more Susan Boyle but America is the epicenter of style. Hip hop rules. No Led Zep or Stones have emerged to reshape it in a distinctly Anglo style. Gangster, yoyo, rap and hip pop have all spawned imitation from Korea to Brazil but the field is still largely an American phenomenon.

For a multitude of reasons, America has lost industry and commerce to the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China.) Technological innovation is slipping away. The Internet is being hijacked in broad daylight. But we still have movies and television and pop music. America has style.

We have gotten good at style because we work really hard at it. A more superficial culture has never existed. American public schools might be deficient in things like literacy, numerical proficiency, geography, the life sciences, chemistry, physics, economics, history, philosophy, etc., but they are mini-Spartas of style. From American public schools will spring the next Tommy Hilfiger, the next Gwen Stefani, the next Eminem and the next Dr. Dre. American hard science and engineering and math programs will be dominated by foreign students at the graduate level but those students will look to the mavens of superficiality for guidance.

American youth culture is no longer marked by the gulf between the cool and the uncool. Now we have the stylish and the hyper-stylish and the hyper-hyper-styilsh. From the christening with an aerosol first name to their very first tattoo, every Troy and Madison will run a gauntlet of trends. Feelings will get hurt but style will be better for the pain.

I used to wonder why people of means, people who could afford to provide a quality education for their children, chose to send their children to an American public school. What I learned is that Americans send their children to public schools in the same spirit that past generations sent their kids to military academies or competitive prep schools. Yes, they will be challenged constantly and the going might get tough but they will graduate with a sophisticated sense of style. Little Harper will not be outtrended by anyone, nosiree.

It is not just style of dress or demeanor that is acquired. Sure, the graduate should appreciate tasteful hip hop and resplendent tattoos but they should also be provided with style of thought, whatever that might happen to be. If social justice, economic justice, climate disruption, advanced sensitivity and creative grievance are the flavors of the day, little Justin's loving parents will make sure their gifted son keeps pace with the other students.

One might think that any number of books or government studies or newspaper articles or TV news reports might do for American education what “The Jungle” did for sausage. Nope. Journalists from Walter Cronkite to John Stossel serve up documentaries that remind us just how absurdly deficient our schools have become. Their cultural impact is negligible at best.

There is much to say about the decline of American education but people are largely indifferent. If you can read just one book on the subject I recommend Martin L. Gross's “The Conspiracy of Ignorance” I hereby nominate Gross as the inaugural recipient of the Upton Sinclair Award.

Gross explains how education went off the tracks and what we can do about it. I will skip most of that. Let's get right to the carnage.

Gross recounts a math contest where American students finished last among seven countries but first in self esteem and math confidence.

In 1998 American 12th graders finished 19 out 21 countries in math proficiency.

David Kearns, former CEO of XEROX, estimated that shortcomings of American education cost US industry $50 billion/year.

Back in the nineties, two of three American seventeen year olds, did not know the meaning of The Emancipation Proclamation. About half recognized Patrick Henry's “Give me liberty or give me death.” The same students were unfamiliar with things like The War of 1812, the Marshall Plan or the Great Society. Only 1 in 8 were judged 'adequate” in Analytical Writing and most could not identify Southeast Asia on a map.

Gross piles on. Throughout the 90's Americans scored poorly on standardized tests against foreign students. About half of American 17 year olds tested at junior high levels on math skills. 78 per cent of colleges offer remedial reading and about 29 per cent of college freshmen take a remedial class in college.

Historical knowledge is abysmal. Factual knowledge is itself often dismissed as rote learning.

40 Million Americans are illiterate. 1 in 7 college graduates is illiterate.

We are more concerned with the whats than the hows but it should be noted that things have probably gotten worse since the book was written in 1998. Educational achievement is inversely correlated with educational spending and spending continues to rise. Unbridled flattery is alive and well in the form of “gifted” programs, advanced placement programs, grade inflation and self esteem exercises. An overwhelming number of students perform “above average” even though that is mathematically impossible.

We mentioned Mark Dice and Jesse Watters and Jay Walking. That's the tip of the iceberg. A British TV show asks Americans to name a country that begins with “U.” Bzzz. They ask Americans how many sides a traingle has. Bzzz. Where was the Berlin Wall? Bzzz.

What starts as a bounty of chuckles soon grows depressing. The aforementioned Howard Stern sent out correspondents to interview Obama supporters prior to the 2012 election, repeating a theater of the absurd standby from 2008. Two years after Bin Laden was killed very few, if any, of the Obama supporters were aware that Bin Laden was dead. “Do you think Obama will eventually find and kill Bin Laden?” “Yes” was close to unanimous.

“Do you dislike Romney because he is pro-choice? Because he's a Moslem? Because he's black?”
“Do you think Obama made a good choice selecting Paul Ryan as his running mate? Do you think he picked Ryan because he is African-American or because he is qualified.?” Even Howard stopped laughing and in a rare moment of exasperation he stated. “This is crazy.”

In 2008 John Ziegler asked Obama supporters a series of questions about Obama, Biden, McCain and Palin. Their ignorance was predictable, especially on questions related to Obama. To show that he had not cherry picked his subjects, Ziegler hired Democratic pollster, Zogby International to conduct a poll of Obama supporters. To say they were ignorant is an understatement.

Ziegler tried to get Zogby to conduct a comparable poll of McCain supporters but John Zogby refused. He had experienced serious blowback from the first poll on leftist blogs and was apparently concerned that he might lose the patronage of key Democrats. Had McCain supporters been queried I don't think the results would have surprised anyone nor do I think they would have influenced future elections. Substance no longer affects presidential elections.

One point bears reiteration. In all the YouTube parade of idiots there is rarely, if ever, any shame displayed by the ignorant. This is especially true of Obamacists. They live in a post-factual world. Their choices are based on superficialities and superficialities alone. The only truth in Jonestown is what their leader declares truthful. That is the fundamental change to America Barack Obama promised.

Republican Charlie Baker Leading In Massachusetts Gubernatorial Race

This blog has discussed Charlie Baker before. He gave incumbent Duval Patrick a run for his money in 2010 and were it not for a third party fiscally conservative candidate draining off votes, Baker might have won the election.

Baker's opponent is Attorney General Martha Coakley who is best known as the candidate who lost a special election to Scott Brown for the late Ted Kennedy's Senate seat.

BTW, Massachusetts is much better off than most blue states. I cannot speak to the solidity of their pensions but The Bay State has not undergone the budget crises that we witness in places like Illinois and California. Boston is not on the skids like Detroit and Chicago. Governor Patrick and Mayor Menino both seem to have done good jobs under difficult circumstances.

We will revisit the Massachusetts miracle later. For now, let us focus on the governor's race:
Baker 38.
Coakley 37.