An Idea for Culture Jamming the Tea Parties

The religious right and the tea parties are two very different beasts, each with competing agendas

Still, there seems to be a growing willingness among U.S. Christians to intermingle with the teabaggers, who are quite insistent upon lashing out against what they’re told is the greatest squelching of freedom since that time they all bought tickets to “Battlefield Earth”.

Were an actual alliance to form between them, it could mean that moral concerns take a back seat to entirely new fiscal unreality. Still, by their powers combined, the two distinctly separate but roughly approximate groups could pose a serious challenge to progressives in the mid-term elections.

Can you imagine it? A cadre of tea bagging Christians packing guns, sporting t-shirts reading “Psalms 109:8” and singing “We Shall Overcome” like some kind of damn Yippie parade? I can.

The problem with this sort of groupthink in any ideology is that its participants are easily suckered by anyone smooth enough to play on their favorite angles. Therein lies a weakness.

I’m a fan of the Reddit atheism boards, but not because I’m necessarily an atheist (I’m a self-fashioned ‘I-don’t-know-ist’). It was there I stumbled across a little video of some stick-figures participating in a game show where questions focused on the numerous contradictions that litter the Christian Bible. Indended to be snarky, the clip runs on a bit too long but it does make some very good points about the nature of faith without a basis on research or fact.

About half way through, it dropped a gem: a question about Acts 2:44-45 and 4:34-37, from the King James version.

Those verses, you see, explain that the first generation of the Christian church — those who were closest to the politics of Christ’s time and place — were all Communists.

The Good Book explains …

44. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45. And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

[…]

34. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35. And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

36. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, 37. Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

Since we’ve already got two pretty straightforward liberal answers to conservatism of late — a “Green Tea Party” and a “Coffee Party“, as they’re called — I figure it’s time to take the culture jamming up a notch.

It is my sincere hope that a clean-cut looking group of snarky liberals will engage their tea-fueled countrymen on a face-to-face level and pretend to agree with every item, no matter how ill-informed, only to whip the discussion around to Jesus-town with a quip like, “Yeah, you know, the first church really had it right, wouldn’t you say?”

If the teabagger agrees, maybe offer them a poster or a t-shirt as a biblical affirmation of the original Christian values expressed in Acts 2 and 4. Maybe even come up with a chant or three, something infectious and anchored in Christian symbolism that other participants would gladly join in. A giant banner with some message about “Christianity’s founding fathers” being right would seem ideal here.

Much fun as duping your easily-led friends and neighbors may be, the point of such an exercise wouldn’t be realized until it is catapulted online.

Photos of a Christian teabagger parade, waving signs and chanting while completely oblivious to the fact that they’re promoting communism, would be more than just a moral debasement for Republicans manipulating the tea parties behind the scenes. It would be a massive propaganda victory for those eager to expose the gullible stupidity that so flourishes in the midst of a groupthink.

In other words, it would be beautiful, kinda like the times Rush Limbaugh mistakenly praised socialized medicine, or the revelation that Sarah Palin and her grandson have personally benefited from public health care: a perfect illustration of their duplicitous hypocrisy, on display for all the world to see.

And for whatever it’s worth, I’d totally write about it.

The Best Apple Advertisement Yet

Apple has had some marketing coups in its day, but this … is genius.

Virginia Campbell, a 99-year-old resident of Mary’s Woods Retirement Community in Lake Oswego, Oregon, recently got an iPad. She says it has changed her life because it enabled her to read and write again. Now, there’s video.

This clip was especially moving to me because my grandmother, Pat Webster, who passed away in recent years, suffered from failing sight in her declining health.

It was her inability to read that hurt her most, being a lifelong news junkie who married an SMU law professor. Of course my family tried to set up some kind of digital solution, buying a desktop PC, special zoom-monitor and software to assist seniors with computer interactions. Sadly, she never could seem to master moving the mouse while the screen was zoomed in on a batch of text, causing untold frustration.

I’m a writer because of my grandmother. This video made me think, if only she’d been given an iPad, we could have been video chatting over coffee and The New York Times on the spur of the moment instead of only seeing each other every few months. It also made me want to buy an iPad for my surviving grandparents who have the same sort of apathy toward their Windows XP machine.

Apple has on its hands one of the greatest pieces of viral advertising ever. I predict this will be remembered in the same vein as their famous 1984 commercial that introduced Macintosh computers, except this time the company apparently has nothing to do with it.

Added bonuses for marketing of this variety: the video’s amateur nature and simple premise make it far less intrusive and intellectually offensive than most advertising, and it’s optional for the viewer. Those are the kind of hooks I can appreciate.

Compared to this Apple sensation, there’s no better ad out today. Bravo!

(H/T: The Oregonian)

Don't Legalize It

Happy Holidays.

I’ve got bad news … The Man is coming for your stash. Yes, Right Now.

But he’s not coming with handcuffs, no not this time.

The Man has other plans.

Image: San Francisco Weekly

The first rumblings of the Plan can be heard in Boise, where Republican legislator Tom Trail (R-Moscow) is leading the “compassionate conservative” charge to legalize medical marijuana.

Expect this to become a trend among libertarian-minded statehouse members. Trail is just the beginning of elected Republicans going unconventionally green. Once these people come to see full legalization is the way, that’s when pot smokers should start getting The Fear.

You see, Their Idea of legalization will be amazingly different from today’s supporters working diligently in California. They will want to control growing operations, like New Jersey, restrict potencies and issue dictates about how much one can have.

Once Cali legalizes it, which I believe is inevitable, officials everywhere will realize that everyone who wanted to engage in recreational smoking was already well-stocked in herb. Even though I expect this issue to ultimately be buoyed by America’s rising libertarianism, it will lead to some insane taxes, especially if smaller municipalities have a say as many still do with alcohol.

When legalization really goes national, one signature could forever change America’s largest unregulated market.

Marijuana consumers should approach with caution.

My worry is that red state officials can’t wait to create a new outback gestapo like the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, ready and willing to put its agents right up in your shit just for enjoying a buzz outside of your home.

In other words, a legal cannabis market could very well be controlled by the same bunch of hard-ass, lizard-brain flat-tops that have been busting kids for decades.

Harsh.

I’m convinced that the best way for reform proponents to proceed is at the city and county level, trying to influence sheriff and district attorney elections to produce policies like those introduced by Philly DA Seth Adams. You call it, “decriminalization.”

A direct appeal to a human’s greed and lust for fame is more effective than crying freedom, joining NORML and sparking up at a park later today. Presented through this lens, marijuana consumers become an ATM machine for law enforcement, ultimately saving time and money on housing and prosecution. That’s the key.

I say, “Don’t Legalize It”.

If grungy hippie types made that a meme, the straights would pay attention.

Just another boring ole' Thursday when, out of nowhere … Karl Rove!

Karl Rove decided to drop by my neighborhood for a book signing and I found out about it just as the event was starting. Naturally, I couldn’t resist going to meet the guy.

I know, I know, this would evoke a million questions, maybe even some righteous anger in many people. But not me. No, I had a better idea. I would be respectful and act my expected role, just another patron buying a gift, for a friend.

So, how does one go about tossing a cog at the greatest political mastermind since Kissinger? My first inclination was to throw a shoe. Yeah, that’d make headlines.

But no, I can do better. This was a Barnes & Noble book signing after all. I’ve worked high-profile signings at Borders and Books-A-Million during my prior life as a retail laborer. I didn’t want to make trouble for the staff, I just wanted to trip Karl up a bit.

While waiting in line roughly an hour, I got to overhear some interesting conversations. In a stroke of irony, the queue took us through the current events section, where (of course) almost all the right-leaning authors had their covers facing out.

Two very Conservative ladies behind me were chattering away about their favorite authors and one, there alone, said to the other: “You know, honestly, all the tea party stuff and Obama and all that makes me think that Tim Lahaye really just hit it right on the head.”

The shorter woman, whose toddler daughter was admiring the rows of airbrushed pundit photos, just nodded in agreement.

“What’s this one?” the little girl asked, pointing at a Sean Hannity book.

“That’s Sean Hannity! her mother said. “He’s on the news, he’s a journalist who reports the news. Can you say that?”

“News!” the child cheered, flinging her arms into the air.

“Your uncle got a photo with Mr. Hannity,” the woman continued. “He’s such a nice man.”

“Sean Hannity!” the girl chirped, twirling around with a giggle.

I put on my best politeness, pulled out my camera and asked if one of them would be so kind as to snap a photo of Rove and me. Just then, the audience — all of them white and an unusual count of men with tobacco tin rings on their blue-jean pockets — erupted into laughter.

Leaning toward the podium, I learn that Karl had made a jest about the two little girls who greeted him, saying they were “two sure-fire Republican votes.” Pretty much everyone present was still chucking about it, or telling their friends who were unfortunate enough to have missed such priceless moment of compassionate conservatism.

It was my turn. I approached Rove, smiling with hand extended. Instead, he points at my shirt.

“Hey, what’cha got there, guy?” he asked me. “What’s that?”

I took a breath.

“RawStory.com, sir. It’s … a news web site. We’re … You could say we’re big fans of yours.”

Rove opened the book, page marked with a post-it note bearing the name he should make it out to: “Larisa Alexandrovna.”

He looked at me and blinked, then turned his head toward the book, pausing for what seemed five to seven seconds just glaring at the yellow square.

“Oh,” Rove said, almost deadpanning. He wouldn’t look at me directly again.

“Say, can I get a picture of you and I shaking hands?” I asked.

“Sureeee,” Rove trailed.

The friendly Republican mom was already in place and, *FLASH* … An absolutely ridiculous photo. Kinda goes with my other one, though (circa 1998).

For those of you who don’t know, Raw Story investigative news editor Larisa Alexandrovna was one of the reasons why the political prosecution of former Alabama Democratic Governor Don Siegelman came to light: a case which would later serve to illustrate how Rove’s politics infected the Justice Department, the investigation into which resulted in, well, you remember.

She also covered the Valerie Plame case, exposed the Bush administration’s covert ops in Iran, ripped holes in the official 9/11 story and was first to verify the location of a CIA black site in Poland.

So yeah, bet your ass that’s not an unfamiliar name to a former Bush administration bigwig.

This afternoon, I’m certain, absolutely certain, he recognized who the book was being made out to.

This one’s for you, Larisa. ;O)

(More of her stuff is available via At-Largely.)


A Few Tax Reform Ideas Us Poor Folk Can Get Behind

Here’s what so many of our poor and middle class friends and neighbors fail to understand when they vote Republican: their little buzz phrase “tax cut” actually means this …

That’s a chart to think about on Tax Day, eh? Look at how much more the median family is paying compared to 1955. Isn’t 1955 smack in the middle of that the fuzzy sort of moral wonderdom most conservatives want to get back to?

In Today’s America, the greatest social prime mover is classism and, news flash, the vast majority of Americans are on the losing end. Like hip-hop artist Immortal Technique once said, black, white or brown, we’re all in the same boat and it’s (still) sinking.

That graphic above is from a coalition of activist groups campaigning for a variety of tax reforms. They are Wealth for the Common Good and I’m pleased to cheerlead their suggestions.

They are petitioning for:

A financial speculation tax

A crackdown on tax haven abuse

A more robust estate tax on “grand fortunes”

Their other issue, letting the Bush tax cuts expire, appears well on its way to happening on the last day of 2010. That’s good. That’s a start. I’d even argue that it’s a direct result of the 2008 election: something our tax-protesting, tea-partying, militia-forming friends should think about. (Hint: most of them stand to benefit, too.)

But seriously, you know how much it stings to lose a third of a paycheck to Uncle Sam. You know and I know, that 13.6 percent hurts us more than 16.6 percent hurts them. Ask yourself: why shouldn’t the wealthy feel it the same way?

I’m all for an equitable tax: the less you have the less you’re taxed, whereas the more you have, the more you’re taxed. We’ll just have to start using that extra cash to benefit all of us proletariat, like we used to.

Can I get an amen?

‘Kops’ Win: Barry Cooper calls it quits on reality show

After 16 months of promoting the “KopBusters” reality show, former Texas narcotics officer Barry Cooper is closing up shop out of fear that the next police retaliation may be much more severe.

“I’ve been told by lawyers, my fans and many people who love me that the next thing they’re gonna do is plant drugs on me and send me away for 20 years, or kill me or my wife … I’m not going to let that happen,” he said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

“We put so much of our life into something good,” Cooper continued. “We got Yolanda out of prison. I had so many plans for ‘KopBusters’. We were gonna get to the point where we were targeting federal agents, but then I did these bag drops and look what happened! So, I’m … I’m not doing any more cop stings. I’m still going to make noise. I’m still going to produce ‘Never Get Busted‘. I’m going to give speeches and I’m still going to run for office. But … I’m done with ‘KopBusters’.”

He first made the announcement during an April 9 episode of “This American Life” on National Public Radio, speaking with Texas Observer culture editor Michael May.

Emotion clearly audible in his voice, Barry confessed to the reporter: “I never would have done those bag drops if I’d have known it would-a led to this.”

Barry and Candi are still trying to regain custody of Candi’s 7-year-old son Zachary. He was taken by his father after Williamson County police raided the family’s home over an alleged misdemeanor and discovered less than a gram of marijuana. Though Child Protective Services closed the case and said there’s no reason to believe the Cooper’s kids are in danger, Zach’s father has not yet returned the boy and has made a number of allegations against Barry, mostly relating to the wildly exaggerated charges leveled by police.

A custody hearing in Upshur County, Texas is scheduled for Wednesday.

What’s next for Cooper? He’s got a few ideas but nothing too solid just yet. Given Barry’s track record, I think it’s safe to assume we’ll all be hearing more from the drug war’s top insurgent before too long.

To listen in on Copper’s “This American Life” segment, check out episode 405, available for streaming here. Cooper’s portion begins at 42 minutes. An MP3 is also available for download.

Goodbye, Texas Stadium

I am not a sports fan, but I was born just outside of Dallas, Texas. Today, coming off the demolition of Texas stadium in Irving, I’ve got a strange mood about me, almost as if a famous artist died. It’s the same confused sadness that hit me when first hearing Chris Farley had overdosed. A towering icon of my life had fallen.

Texas stadium meant a lot more to most people than it did to me; especially the football fans, who are plentiful in Dallas. But I’ll still never forget all the concerts, cheap seats at random Cowboys games and being forced as a teen into two whole days of “Promise Keepers” lectures inside Texas stadium. (Okay, so that Promise Keepers part wasn’t much fun, but my other experiences were.)

It was certainly one of the most storied halls in sport, having housed more talent in its lifetime than any three other stadiums combined — an opinion shared only by Cowboys fans. Nevertheless, all good things must come to an end.

Watching Texas stadium collapse into dust last night was more difficult than I’d expected, so I blog for the therapeutic benefits of sharing my pain.

Here it is …

Another view …

Yet another view …

Aerial footage …

And for all you sports fans, here’s ESPN’s 10 greatest moments in Texas stadium football …

It took more than a ton of dynamite to accomplish that.

May she rest in pieces. Mahalo.