Archive for the ‘media’ Category

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Nation Of The Apes

February 20, 2009

I sit here in front of my laptop while sucking down a tall glass of Folgers Black Silk, and wonder what the next topic of discussion should be….hmmmm…

First, as a point of reference, I ask that readers watch the following commercial:

Remember that one?  It wasn’t particularly controversial, right?  I mean, the use of chimps in the ad was clearly used as a parody of human behavior.  Specifically, the team working for careerbuilder.com knew that the audience would relate to the frustration of dealing with boneheadedness in the workplace, and the creative use of primates conveyed the message fairly well.  In fact, there were a few of these commercials, which would be an indication that the people at Cramer-Kressalt Co. (the ad team) thought this idea was a winner, I suppose.  (They did claim the top spot in “The Funniest Commercials of 2005.”, although PETA, predictably, wasn’t thrilled about them).

Now, enter the now-infamous NY Post cartoon that was published the other day:

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Aaaaand…..KABOOM!  Controversy erupts, blog wars rage,  protesters march in New York, and the airwaves are filled with hours of commentary.

But who was offended?  PETA?  The family of the unfortunate woman mauled by the pet chimp (the story that inspired the cartoon)?  

Nope. 

People apparently saw racism in the cartoon.  You know, stimulus bill ->black president-> ape -> shot dead by police.  Or something. 

Personally, I think that the cartoon missed the mark (as so many deadline-constrained political cartoonists do), and wasn’t funny in the least. But I don’t think it was racist. I think its just a stupid cartoon.  Or as I wrote over at Sadly No!:

Had the primate had a “Obama” tag on his chest, well, then yea, I’d definitely see that as racist. But there wasn’t. The toon was to be interpreted as referring to a stimulus bill that could be seen as written by an out-of-control ape (like the careerbuilder.com ads). In fact, given the way it was written, the lack of label and the apparent ignorance to the hypersensitivity of certain corners of the audience, I’d say that it could have only been penned by someone who was explicitly not racist.

This actually puts me in agreement with many of the blog entries that I’ve seen on the right side of the fence, which is a rather unusual place for me.  OK.  I just call it as I see it. 

The NY Post, for their part, sticks to their guns today (sorta):

Wednesday’s Page Six cartoon – caricaturing Monday’s police shooting of a chimpanzee in Connecticut – has created considerable controversy.

It shows two police officers standing over the chimp’s body: “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill,” one officer says.

It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill.

Period.

But it has been taken as something else – as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism.

This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize.

However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past – and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback.

To them, no apology is due.

Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon – even as the opportunists seek to make it something else.

Exactly.

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Update: Several of my fellow WPPBA bloggers have taken on this topic as well:

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Enough Of “Joe The Plumber” Already!

October 28, 2008

Ok, I realize that the media was going to glom onto this guy when he came up a bazillion times in the debate, but enough is enough.  It has gotten to the point where “Joe” is not only on the campaign trail with McCain/Palin, but the media is reporting his statements as if he’s a candidate himself.  Just check this out:

‘Joe the Plumber’ Backs Claim That Obama Would Bring ‘Death to Israel’

That’s an actual headline.  On Fox

So, naturally, Shep Smith had to call him up and give the “could you explain that?” interview.

Or how about this:

Joe the Plumber says Obama would make US socialist

That’s an AP headline.

Or this:

Records searches anger Joe the Plumber

The Columbus Dispatch.

Is it just me, or does this “Joe the Plumber” blitz give you the feeling that we’re living in a children’s book?  Are we all six year-olds?  

Apparently, McCain thinks so, as he’s adopted and embraced the Toys ‘R’ Us-esque marketing gimmick and plastered him all over his campaign website as well:

Go here, and you’ll see videos of Brad the Welder, Jeff the Truck Driver, Tara the Teacher, Josie the Transcriptionist, Jeff the Realtor, etc.

{{{sigh}}}

I realize that most of the country doesn’t give a rat’s hinder what my opinion is.  OK, scratch that.  Most of the country doesn’t know who the heck I am.  But I certainly wouldn’t expect Fox or the AP to pick up the Chamber, anyway.  Chen the Salesman hasn’t gotten the attention of David the Campaign Strategist, I guess.

Hey, NO FAIR!!!

And with great hesitation to click “publish”, I dub this the one and only Official Chamber “Joe the Plumber” thread.

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Official Chamber Biden-Palin Debate Thread

October 1, 2008

As a follow-up to the previous thread, I figured that I might as well start one for the much-anticipated and only VP debate.  I do this a day early so we can have room to make predictions, a little liveblogging (if anyone’s around), and reactions.

For now, I’m going to start with a few pre-debate thoughts…

First, it’d be irresponsible for the Chamber not to mention the notion that the various statements made by Palin these last few weeks has reduced the expectations of her to the lowest of levels (that’s what the media’s been implying, anyway).   To sum it up, Countdown put together a pretty good montage:

click to watch

click to watch

Could Palin “win” simply by showing up and not saying anything too embarrassing?  On the other hand, based on these interviews, is that even probable?

Second, to gain a little insight, we should highlight those who have debated Palin in the past, and those people are saying that she shouldn’t be underestimated

While policy wonks such as Biden might cringe, it seemed to me that Palin was simply vocalizing her strength without realizing it. During the campaign, Palin’s knowledge on public policy issues never matured – because it didn’t have to. Her ability to fill the debate halls with her presence and her gift of the glittering generality made it possible for her to rely on populism instead of policy.

Palin is a master of the nonanswer. She can turn a 60-second response to a query about her specific solutions to healthcare challenges into a folksy story about how she’s met people on the campaign trail who face healthcare challenges. All without uttering a word about her public-policy solutions to healthcare challenges.

Of course, most politicians rely on the ability to weild the “nonanswer” as a defense mechanism and to avoid being pinned down.  But tomorrow night’s debate will be a completely different set of circumstances.  This one will be on a national stage covering both domestic and international issues, and subjected to the spin and interpretation of the media and pundits across the country.   It remains to be seen she can pull this off outside of the familiar confines of her home turf.  After all, one would think that it’s a lot easier to do it when the issues exclusively deal with the state in which you’ve lived your whole life.  And given the fact that there’s been so much attention paid to the aforementioned cluelessness that she’s already displayed on the national and international issues, the “nonanswer” will now be something that people will be looking for and picking apart (if not outright mocking).

Finally, I’ll just add that Biden’s best approach is to exude confidence and competence and to be careful not to attack Palin in a condescending manner, as in doing so he risks coming across as a bully and turning people off.  In fact, the best advise would be to avoid attacking Palin at all.  The contrast between the two should be evident if he just plays it safe and answers the questions.

And with that, I open up the thread and start popping the popcorn…

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Attention Thrill-Seekers!

September 25, 2008

I’m going to give a plug to a magnificent locale that happens to be just a few hundred yards from where I went to high school:  Blondie’s Sports Bar & Grill

Naturally, one might ask why in the heck I’d suggest an innocently named sports bar as a destination for the steel-nerved.  I mean, it looks like a pretty harmless place, right?  It’s got a nice-looking patio, cash bingo, and even karaoke on Saturdays.  Well, don’t be fooled, daredevils.  You’d better keep your head on a swivel and your running shoes tied tight if you plan on stepping foot in this joint (It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to review Minnesota’s conceal and carry law, either).

For example, just the other day, some poor kid was gunned down in cold blood right there on that patio, and two more of his pals wound up in the hospital:

Family members say Jones was just dropping off a set of keys to his cousin at Blondie’s Sports Bar and Grill at 7495 Brooklyn Boulevard when shots rang out just after midnight Wednesday.
Jones was dead at the scene. The two others were taken to North Memorial with non-life-threatening injuries. One of the injured had a bullet wound, the other was a victim of a related assault.

But I know what you’re thinking.  Surely this was just a one-time fluke incident borne out of too many drinks and machismo.  

On the other hand, ask the guy who went there last year and had his nutsack ripped open by Thor, the establishment’s not-so-friendly barkeep:

Thor Gunderson

“It is not like he was drunk and disorderly. There was a dispute over the time it was going to take for his food. But he decided he didn’t want to pay for it and for that he ends up with these types of serious injuries,” said acting Brooklyn Park Police Chief Greg Roehl.

Investigators say the owner, Thor Gunderson, even tried to stop the man from calling 911 for help. When police got to the bar, they say they found the customer bleeding and on the ground, restrained by Gunderson and a bouncer.

“At the hospital they determined he had an injury which was to his scrotum and that one of his testicles was actually torn loose,” said Roehl.

Yea, um, can you say…check please?

Dig a little deeper, and you’ll find that there’s no shortage of “activity” at Blondie’s.  In fact, when you look at the history of the place over the last few years, one has to wonder why any reasonable person would ever go there:

City records show Blondie’s, at 7495 Brooklyn Blvd., had 221 calls for service in 2006, 215 in 2007 and 156 so far this year.

That’s nearly 600 visits from the police in under 3 years.  Or if you do the math, you’ve got better than a 50/50 chance that the cops will show up for some reason on any given night.   Here’s the breakdown (pdf) for 242 calls in 2007 (not sure of the reason for the discrepancy).  And keep in mind, Brooklyn Park is a suburb.


Casual dining with a sports flair…
…If you dare.

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Safe Prediction For Hannity’s Palin Interview

September 13, 2008

Well, the much-discussed interview Sarah Palin had with ABC’s Charles Gibson is over, and the word around the campfire is that she was treated unfairly.  Luckily for her, the next scheduled sit-down will be with my pal Sean Hannity.  Why luckily?  Well, let’s just say that I can sum up the interview with two images:

Exit thought:  I’m getting a kick out of all the pundits rushing in to defend Palin’s “Bush Doctrine” response during Gibson pt. 1.   In general, the spin is something along the lines of “even the experts can’t agree on what it is!” .  Well, that may be true.  But while we may debate on what the “Bush Doctrine” is, there should be universal agreement that “his worldview” it is …not.  It’s her initial response that the defenders conveniently leave out.

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Update: Jay over at Newshoggers offers up some potential questions that Hannity might “toss” at Palin.

Last Update:  Olbermann broke the Hannity interview down last night, and even used the word “softball”:

Reform!

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“Shrill”?

September 3, 2008

Uh Oh…

After the Palin acceptance speech this evening, Reid spokesman Jim Manley categorized her speech as “shrill and sarcastic political attacks“.

First, for the record:

shrill 

-adjective
1. high-pitched and piercing in sound quality: a shrill cry.
2. producing such a sound.
3. full of or characterized by such a sound: shrill music.
4. betraying some strong emotion or attitude in an exaggerated amount, as antagonism or defensiveness.
5. marked by great intensity; keen: the shrill, incandescent light of the exploding bomb.

Second, I would guess that Reid felt obligated to respond, since he was called out personally in the speech:

Harry Reid, the majority of the current do-nothing Senate … he not long ago summed up his feelings about our nominee. He said, quote, “I can’t stand John McCain.”

Ladies and gentlemen, perhaps no accolade we hear this week is better proof that we’ve chosen the right man.

Clearly, what the majority leader was driving at is that he can’t stand up to John McCain and that is only…

… that’s only one more reason to take the maverick out of the Senate, put him in the White House.

The consensus among the CNN pundits was sort of a “they better be careful with that”, implying that it can be spun as a sexist remark.   But having watched the speech live, I decided that Sarah Palin does sound a little like the Church Lady.  “Shrill” might not have been the word I would have chosen, but hey, judge for yourself:

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Exit question: Could the “shrill” charge come from a more ironic source than from someone named “Manley”?

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Satellite Images: Gustav vs. Katrina

August 31, 2008

Even though Gustav doesn’t appear to be quite as scary from space, the weather guys are predicting a similar strength and location to what happened 3 years ago (almost exactly 3 years, actually).  I tried to find two images for comparison that represented the same vantage point.

Katrina:


(source: NOAA)

Gustav:


(source: NOAA)

Maybe it isn’t the size that makes Katrina look worse, rather that tightly defined eye wall.  I hope everyone makes it out of there OK.

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“Controversial” Campaign Ads- Free Bang For The Buck

July 30, 2008

Lately I’ve gotten the impression -and maybe this is just me- that the McCain camp’s ads are getting a lot more attention than Obama’s lately.  There’s more and more talk that McCain is taking the “low road“, but I’m beginning to wonder if this should really be considered the smart road.  After all, as NewsBusters noticed, the latest McCain ad appeared to get a ton of air time on the blogs and CBS, NBC, ABC, etc. in the last 24 hrs., because someone decided that the ads themselves, along the accompanying reaction, was deemed newsworthy.  As I read, I couldn’t help but think that McCain’s team had gotten a lot more exposure for their spots with all that than it actually paid for through regular time slots. 

As it turns out, I’m not the only one to come to this conclusion, as memeorandum also has this up from the NYT: With Commercial, McCain Gets Much More Than His Money’s Worth

WASHINGTON — The number of times Senator John McCain’s new advertisement attacking Senator Barack Obama for canceling a visit with wounded troops in Germany last week has been shown fully or partly on local, national and cable newscasts: well into the hundreds.

The number of times that spot actually, truly ran as a paid commercial: roughly a dozen.

One has to wonder -or possibly even assume- that the media may be the unwitting participant in an a clever strategy.  A plan that centers around churning out campaign ads that create a buzz not as a mistake made by a marketing team that is out of touch with what might cross lines, but as a critical part of the design.  With such a concept, I suppose the balancing act involves crafting the ads in such a way that they don’t turn too many people off, while simultaneously creating the appropriate stir that results in all the free air time.  Another possible danger would be that, once it gets to a certain point, there will be considerable debate between the camps and pundits alike over whether the whole fracas can be taken up with the FCC.   After all, the networks were so worried about the “equal time” provisions that NBC actually considered make-up time for other GOP candidates to compensate for Fred Thompson’s appearance in Law and Order reruns.  That dynamic would expose the transparency of the tactic to a wider audience than a single NYT post (and certainly this blog), and could work against McCain…assuming the Katie Couric’s out there can refrain from replaying the ads in question hundreds of times in the process.

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Official Chamber “Generation Kill” Thread

July 27, 2008

You know, I was going to cancel my HBO subscription (and save myself $12 a month) because all the good Sunday shows appear to have disappeared, but I thought I’d hang on to it a little longer to give this one a chance.


Click image for HBO’s official site

I’ve watched the first 2 episodes now, and I gotta say that so far it’s pretty entertaining.  Here’s the extended trailer:

The series is based on the book written by embedded Rolling Stone reporter Evan Wright.

My favorite character so far would probably be Lt. Nate Fick (video profile), an honor he earned in episode 1 when CPL Ray Person asked him about a silly rumor of Jennifer Lopez’s demise.  Fick looked at him and appeared to look as if he was about to bust out laughing, but quickly composed himself and cooly responded:

“Ray, the battalion commander offered no sit-rep as to J-Lo’s status”

Anyway, I just thought I’d create a thread to discuss the show, since I plan on watching all of the episodes now.  I’ll add no more updates here in the main thread (spoiler concerns), so I’ll open it to the comment section.

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“Mac” Week

July 13, 2008

Is it just me, or has there been a lot of “Mac” in the news lately?

IndyMac seized as financial troubles spread (July 12)

Freddie Mac’s Next Hurdle: Raise Cash (July 13)

Bernie Mac makes off-color joke at Obama event (July 12)

Hmmm…should I check Apple’s site for some new development?  There could be some big news right around the corner.

Nah.  I’m actually kind of hungry now, and I might as well celebrate the discovery of the nexus with a…. 

Seriously though, I think I sense a business opportunity.  There’s definitely a market for a “Stick-Up-The-Ass Remover”, as evidenced by some of the hysteria out there over the Bernie Mac thing.  On the other hand, there was at least one blogger out there who put the truly cosmic impact of a couple of jokes by a comedian friend of Obama’s into the proper perspective.   Still, as I’ve highlighted before, there are plenty of Weenies out there, so maybe I really am missing out on the opportunity to make a boatload if I don’t at least look into some R&D on this.  But the first thing I should do is protect the name of my invention, so its gonna be Stick-Up-The-Ass Remover ™ © ®

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McClellan Book Reaction Hilarity Depot Thread

May 28, 2008

This is a thread for all the LOL’s over this McClellan book thing.  I just find it hilarious width and breadth of the theories I’ve come across.  Like, “who got to him” type stuff.  “I question the timing” .  Ya know.  Deflector shields on MAX. 

Also, I’ll admit that I heard this on the radio today.  This Scotty thing actually brought a woman to tears:

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: We’ll start with Darla in Bellingham, Washington. Hi, Darla, nice to have you here.

CALLER: Hi, Rush. I tell you, I’m so… I’m so… I can hardly talk. I am so upset about this Scott McClellan book. I — I have children and grandchildren that I have to try to protect in our great nation. And here for a buck, for payback, I don’t care what it is. He can’t wait ’til the president’s out of office? We have to do things, and, of course, he has more credence because he’s known, quote, unquote, the president longer than many so he comes out with this trashy crap in this book that gives to the haters of this country, the terrorists of the world. If it makes our news media wonder if the president’s going to comment on it while he’s trying to give a speech to a graduating class then, oh, it must be that important, well, if they say it and it emboldens them — and it always does embolden them — well, does it make the country safer? Where is the patriotism in this country? I can certainly say it. We have lost our soul. Scott, you’re a citizen of the country first. If it’s payback to the president, fine. Is it payback to me? Is it payback to my family, too? Do you have to make the buck first? (voice breaking) I am sorry I sound upset but, Rush, that’s just — I — I — I don’t get it. I’m — I’m fed up. Where is the patriotism in this country? Where? Why have we decided that we don’t just have to hate the president, we have to hate our country, we have to hate what it stands for, we have to put our desire for money and our 15 minutes of fame above everything?

 I’ll try to get more as I stumble upon it.

Update:  Good stuff at Sadly No! and Hysterical Raisins.

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How I’ve Been Spending My Free Time As Of Late

May 21, 2008

I have to apologise for my recent absence from the Chamber. Well, on second thought, I still have been checking in, I just haven’t been posting anything new. The reason:

Grand Theft Auto IV

I’ll admit, I’ve been into video games since I was a kid.  My brother and I would sit and play the Intellivision system for hours. Later came the NES, then the Sega Genesis, then the Playstation, then the PS2. And sprinkled in there somewhere I bought a Nintendo 64 and a Sega Dreamcast. I guess it’s safe to say that I’ve always been a “gamer” . Over the last few years, however, I’ve spent less free time with it, and I had been progressively shifting my hobbies over to the internet, eventually resulting in the creation of this blog. In fact, over the last year, my games and consoles have been mostly dust collectors, with the exception of pulling out a little Guitar Hero. And unlike previously, I did not run out and buy the new PS3 when it first came out.

A few weeks ago, however, a buddy of mine convinced me that the new GTA IV was going to be the reason to break down and buy the new console. So, I gathered whatever trade-in video game software and hardware that GameStop would actually take and drove to the store to get myself the new system and the game (and a couple others) at the beginning of May.

So, the reason why I haven’t been posting on the blog as much is because this game is so darn addicting. It really is the most enveloping and escapism-enabling entertainment product I’ve ever seen.   And I’ve played a lot of video games and watched a lot of movies.

Even if a player chooses to avoid the violence and debauchery, its hard not to marvel at the genius of it all. I mean, the realism of the graphics, physics and soundtrack are impressive enough, but the storyline and the freedom to sculpt the experience to one’s liking takes it to a whole new level.    

It’s like an interactive action movie.  For the game’s characters, got everything from egotistical gangsters to power-tripped cops to bitter cab drivers to impatient pedestrians.  For the action, you can engage in high-speed car chases, intersection gun battles, drive-by shootings, scaling buildings and even beating someone down with a baseball bat.  But, if you just wanted to play it cool and be a good boy, you could just call up your pal Packie, hop in a cab, pick him up and head to the bar to get wasted (and naturally, if you try to drive home, the chances are you’ll get the cops on you).   Taken symbolically, the game represents an almost comically cynical view of America, right down to the entertainingly satirical TV shows that you can watch on the sofa in your safehouse.

While playing I couldn’t help but wonder how much work must have gone into creating it (a hint I finally received once I finished the main story missions and watched the credits roll for at least 20 minutes).    The attention to every conceivable detail is just plain impressive.   For example, I couldn’t believe that when the hood of the car you’re driving finally flies off (due to damage combined with a high rate of speed), you can actually hear it land on the street behind you…in the rear surround speakers.    Flies buzz around trash receptacles.   You walk past a bum on the street spouting insane rhetoric.   You can hear the click-clack of elevated trains pass overhead, and look over and see its shadow on the building across the street.    People scream and flee if they see you point your gun at them.  Is it too real?  I dunno.                                                                                                             

Anyway, that’s where I’ve been.  So, I decided to create a thread for comments on the game…or if someone wants to give me grief over it, that’s fine too.

Update:  Game Hint

It’s kinda handy to keep a LCPD cop car parked in front of your safehouse(s).  For convenience purposes, of course.  On the other hand, it may be more fun to just steal the cop cars when you want them.  Up to you.

Anyway, if you want a quick vigilante mission and you don’t want to go through the hassle of finding a cop car, here’s what I do…

From wherever I happen to be, I just hail a cab, go back to the safehouse, then hop in the cop car.   Once I’ve accessed the police computer, I select “Call Police Backup”.  They get there in seconds, which is just long enough to go back the the LCPD screen and select either “View Current Crimes” or “View most Wanted” to pick my next mission.  The cops show up and hop out of their cars, guns drawn.   I calmly get out of my parked cop car, walk over and jump right into one of the “backup’s” cars and head on towards the target criminal.   Unfortunately, once I’ve done a few missions in that car, it gets pretty beat up and I have to ditch it.  (kinda fun to see how many missions you can get one car to last) ….So, I just pull it aside and hail another cab to go back to the safehouse, repeating the process.   In other words, I always have a fresh cop car (and more importantly, the computer access) in about the time it takes to hail one of those taxis that are so commonplace in the game (I’m the type that is using the cabs to get anywhere in the city in mere seconds).   It’s makes it easy to do vigilante missions over and over.

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LOL-Worthy Local TV Spot

May 8, 2008

I listen to the radio personalities on the Twin Cities own KTLK radio just about every day. It’s the local home of national pundits like Hannity, Rush, and Levin, as well as local guys like Chris Baker and Jason Lewis. In other words, it’s a conservative-leaning station dawn ’till dusk bash-fest of all things liberal.  Of course, you wouldn’t have known that based on their brand-new TV spots they’ve been running lately:

click image to watch
click image to watch

As long as “in-depth analysis” of “all the latest news” really means a series of consecutive rants for 3 hours, I suppose the whitewash is acceptable.

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Did Rev. Wright’s Recent Comments Hurt Obama?

April 30, 2008

Well, maybe if you ask that question, like…

50,000 times.

This is a media-driven controversy now.  The ironic paradox, I suppose, is found in watching the pundits on the cable news networks spending countless hours discussing how said countless hours of coverage will effect Obama politically.   It’d be a kind of a self fulfilling prophecy made effective by the principle of social proof; if enough people are talking about how it (the controversy) hurts Obama, then the impression is created to the casual observer that there is something in it all that should hurt him. 

The reality outside of the bubble is, of course, we’re still left where we started on this story, which is the same relatively weak guilt-by-association meme that’s been there all along:   Rev. Wright says controversial things, and he’s Obama’s former pastor.   Sure, there may be some arguments there about judgement in churches, and you can take that as you may.  But there really isn’t anything new here that moves that ball otherwise. 

But unfortunately, the prospect of this prophecy being effective has forced Obama to come out and make a statement on it and in turn adding to the drama a bit further.   And as someone in one of the plethora of cable news “panel’s” pointed out, it is unlikely to end there, since they’ll undoubtedly stick a microphone in Wright’s face asking for a response.   And so on…

I’ll hand these media talking heads one thing though, in that they sure have an uncanny way of glossing over their own role in the whole thing.

For related reading, Glenn Greenwald sarcastically opines Why the Jeremiah Wright story deserves more attention , and HotAir pointed out that Amy Holmes may have predicted over a month ago that this circus was all part of Obama’s plan (I’m not sure if I’ve reached that conclusion yet, but it is interesting).

 

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