"100 People Who Are Screwing Up America" - author, Bernard Goldberg:
Book Review by Mark Drobnick
It was non-stop reading for me during September's, second weekend of 2013. Couldn't put the book down. This is the first one I've read entirely, cover to cover, in the past, several months. I'll have to make it a point to seek out more, irresistible material, as part of my regular routine. Must admit, was very enjoyable.
Aforesaid tome was lent to me by a long-time friend, who especially likes to discuss politics, sociology, and music; a man after my own heart. "Timoteo" started me off on suspect no. 98, a Texas politician who has made it a priority to get future hurricanes named Shaniqua or Jamal, or of similar ethnicity. "So much to do, so little time."
Key strategy on author Goldberg's part was the bite-size tid-bits he's divided the book into. You can read about your favorite rogue by covering only a couple of pages, and completely get the essence of how he/ she contributes to the book's salient themes or recurrent motifs. The latter appear in the first 50 pages; the former occupy the last 250 pages.
I know the author a little bit, by way of his guest appearances on Bill O'Reilly's show. Although Bill has had at least one of the books' subjects as an invited guest, i.e. the long-haired, shock jock listed as 62nd most hazardous threat, usually Bill has guests who share his perspectives. So, while Bill took offense and wouldn't accept the lesbian t-shirt proffered him by aforementioned guest, he treats the book's author most cordially when they're together. Perhaps civility is a component to account for the dichotomous conduct.
By the way, "O'Reilly", like much of what we see in the media today, is personality driven. It's not so much an idea or concept show, as it is what we like or dis-like about this individual or another. The widespread, reporterial tendency is that this emphasis is rampant everywhere.
The information purveyors are dumbing it down for the consumer. The only discretion left us then, becomes, which personality to focus upon. Is the heavy-weight, policy maker more worthy of our attention than the light-weight, ditzy, shallow celebrity? What is it, after all, that we should really care about?
Now, like Dan Rather defends, "I don't know where I lie on the conservative-liberal spectrum," only "I know what values I believe in," so it goes with me. I only wish there were more forums and champions who articulated many of the things that I hold dear, which oft-times line up with Democratic programs, although I don't believe I'm knee-jerk about any issue. I try dispassionately to reason all things thru.
Even though I've been a subscriber to The Nation magazine, I must say there are times when conservatives make sense to me, too. Corollary, and [there are times] when progressives to me make, nonsense. Anyway, Goldberg's book was a fun read. So, let me share some of the merriment contained therein.
Of the 100 "trouble-makers", there are two whom he analyzes so concisely that you'll miss them if you blink. There is the lady entertainer, I don't know much about, whom he summarizes with one simple, jargon-type noun, two letters long. That assessment is very funny, at first glance.
Then there's the man, whom he summarizes in one sentence, which barely occupies more than a single line. You'll laugh at this one, too. Identification hint: in the words of comedian Chris Rock, "I wouldn't let this guy baby-sit my kids, no way, never. Anybody but him."
It's always nice to get positive affirmation for one's beliefs from outside institutions, and, accredited and influential scholars and leaders. No, I'm not referring to the kind of positive affirmations given by Al Franken's alter-ego, Stuart Smalley, as, for example, when he tried to convince basketball player Michael Jordan to abandon the sport, and look solely within himself, devoid of vocation, to identify intrinsic, self-worth.
The fact is, when Goldberg primed us on his own agenda, in the book's beginning, that definitely spurred me on to read more. I was finding, I like how this guy thinks. Isn't he saying many of the things that I have often thought and concluded? How reassuring and gratifying!
I. Civility. I have written the essay, "Police State", in which I decry how a local, well-known politician employs vulgar language to communicate in public forums, including among young children. Author makes same observation and explains how insidiously this helps to ruin our culture.
II. American bashers. What is it with celebrities who manifest disdain and repugnance for the country that nurtured them and where they became successful?
III. Hollywood Blowhards. Goldberg is a purist. Stick to your area of expertise. He's not objecting that we all express ourselves. What he has problems with is that these folks have a celebrity platform from which they might actually influence others.
Following the same line of reasoning, he could add Charlton Heston, Jon Voight, Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and John Wayne, to ridicule. But, that would be counterproductive, as these are all conservative voices, like him.
And, George Clooney is entirely omitted. I suspect because, although Democrat, this guy always seems to make sense about public policy, and sounds well-informed and reasonable.
IV. TV schlockmeisters. Boy, am I glad we don't have cable, nor antenna-type, network broadcasts at home. What trash there is on prime-time, for anyone to see!
Yeah, I like "Lucy" and "Andy Griffith", but do realize their limitations and narrow view of life. So, I got a kick out of Archie and co. of "All in the Family", a definite innovation, which added social consciousness as an element, but, still remained funny.
However, nowadays, take "Will and Grace", "Three and Half Men", the reality shows, "Jerry Springer", "Maury Povich", or yesteryear's "Donahue Show", and you've got to wretch, at least in some cases. Let's add "Howard Stern", as an additional emetic.
How this last guy piled up so much income for what he does is confounding to me. I admire some things about Donald Trump, but I derived a lowered opinion of him when he guested on the show and all he had to say was, "Howard's funny." Really? What's funny about pollution and a sludge heap?
By the way, of the just-mentioned, seven shows, I have never seen any of them in their entirety, that is, a complete episode; not a one. In other words, that exactly sums up how non-entertaining and worthless I instinctively find, all of them to be.
V. TV schlockmeisters - News.
"Schlock" (noun, definition): cheap or inferior goods or material, trash [source: Google search]. Now I understand better, how sharp was comedian Gilda Radner when she lampooned the Queen of crayola with her caricature, Baba Wawa. I always thought the joke was how Baba spoke; Goldberg clarifies that, instead, it is what she spoke.
There we have Wawa's namesake, in real life, interviewing a certain celebrity about lesbian sex and how it made her feel, on prime-time, network television. Note, interestingly, that this "Baba" is lawyer Roy Cohn's ex-girlfriend.
Roy, you may recall, first catapulted to fame as one of U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy's adjutants. As to Baba, in later life Cohn commiserated, "But if I married her, what would I do with her?" Roy, brilliant professional that he may have been, turned out to be not so smart about taking care of himself physically, and ended up dieing of the Aids virus.
I always liked reporter Diane Sawyer. But, when she handles Britney Spears like news, like a serious story, with questions about whether French kissing was had between her and the well-known, material girl, or to detail how the song she composed has to do with self-pleasuring, then Diane abandons serious journalism for sensationalism and ratings, something, in contrast, Tom Brokaw would never do.
Revered newsman Edward R. Murrow interviewed both heads of state and actresses, but at least he clearly delineated the difference, hosting them via two differently identified programs. And, should be mentioned, at least his line of questioning was decent and dignified.
VI. Gangsta rap. I have never been a hip-hop/ rap music aficionado, but I do regard it as being of artistic value. The poetry gets into new territory worth exploring, both in content and style. Now, musicianship, unfortunately, in my view, is generally lacking as to virtuosity and technical excellence; so, that's always a disappointment. Maybe the genre harkens back to beatnik poetry, from the 1950's.
However, this other stuff, via Ludacris, Eminem, and under the auspices of none other than the billionaire, Chicago heir to the Marshall Field & Co. fortune, is enough to elicit the most profound revulsion in anyone possessed of normal sensiblities.
Goldberg rightly calls it: "moronic, disgusting, inane, ignorant, and soul-deadening." Further, as its "murderous lyrics cheapen life and glamorize perversity", it also achieves being "dangerous and destructive." Amen, Bernie.
In other words, how's that? You tell me. Primer: the themes and content obsess about degradation, prostitution, rape, race war, misogyny, homicide, woman as manipulable object, racist epithets, self-hatred of family, criminality, etc. What do you think?
Feminists everywhere should be screaming bloody murder about this toxic waste. Where are they? Why are they hushed up about it?
"As Bob Herbert writes, 'This stuff is readily available to 10-year-olds, which should make any serious person both angry and sad. A steady diet of this ugliness is poisonous, the equivalent of developing one's self-image by looking in a toilet.'" Bulls-eye. Put his message up on billboards and emblazoned on t-shirts, so more people can digest the sermon.
VII. American jackals. Specious law-suits. John Edwards occupying same podium as Barack and Hillary apparently was serendipity, which luckily for us, never coalesced into any kind of victory momentum for him.
VIII. Descartes re-visited: the cogito ergo sum thinker.
Everyone's a victim. That's how you get your share of the goodies. What aggrieved minority are you part of? Stand up and be counted!
IX. Racial enforcers. Why Howard Dean shrinks before Al Sharpton's very good question is revealing. Was asked, "why didn't you have Blacks in your cabinet during your governorship?"
Well, Vermont only contains a half of one percent, Blacks, state-wide, total population. So, if none are present as part of his cabinet, then should be self-explanatory. But oft-times, arrogant Dean, before us here, turns sheepish to Sharpton's inquiry. He proffers the alibi that he does employ some Black(s), but at lower echelon position(s).
The response doesn't seem like a landmark gaffe on Dean's part, given all the spin doctors out there, working every side. But, Goldberg's point is that these liberals are quiet in the most disappointing moments, simply to maintain hypocritical alliances of numbers evidently, even though their inner voices are crying conflicting agendas.
They generally sacrifice principle to expediency. Cannot both be achieved? And, can't they stand for things integral and consistent?
Post-script: note Bill Cosby's statistical information, transmitted before NAACP, 2004 meeting. Seventy per cent of black babies in USA are born out of wedlock.
This truth went over like a lead balloon. Washing dirty laundry in public, facing up to problem so as to begin to solve, is rejected as unacceptable tactic, given this community's mores and folkways.
So, the poor kids are behind the eight-ball from day one. From the start, they're at a disadvantage in trying to compete and excel in life. Shouldn't this problem be addressed and dealt with? What better way can there be?
X. White-collar thugs. Enron energy, Arthur Andersen accountants. Why aren't these guys in jail, other than weatherman Tom Skilling's brother? Have we forgotten?
WorldCom, Global Crossing, and Tyco are other Fortune 500 company, cases in point. They were driven into bankruptcy by well-educated, pin-striped suited crooks, who adroitly cooked the books. Then, the components left floating at water's edge, were conveniently scooped up by corporate officers and boards of directors, to empty into their own pockets.
Remember Watergate as a case in point of what's the perigee with corrupted leadership? Answer: it poisons everything that's under it.
So, here are these corporate creeps anguishing about whether they're carrying away 180 million dollars or 200 million, each. Meanwhile, they're feeding 20 thousand loyal employees to the lions, when rank and file pensions are pre-meditatedly annhilated, like dust in the wind.
And I've got to ponder why the classfied section of any newspaper in the country I pick up these days, contains a mortal sin I've never seen during my lifetime: vertiginous, widespread, mortgage foreclosures. [There's] Rampant throwing out into the streets of families all over America, resulting in re-distribution of wealth, creating a more concentrated plutocracy in the USA, than ever before.
This proceeds as cash bidders become new owners of real estate, at cents on the dollar, of what the average joe has got to borrow money for, to pay full, retail price. It's getting harder and harder these days, to be middle class in the USA.
XI. Sex warriors. Most curiously, they keep mum on the subject of number VI (gangsta rap - supra). Seems politics gets in way of common sense, as these victimized, liberal women sacrifice their best interests to preserve some other kind of political wherewithal, the power of numbers, apparently.
XII. R[eading], [W]R[iting], and radicals. I developed this theme in my essay, "Keep Politics Out of Our Schools."
Meanwhile, here locally, we have an elected leader acting like Pollyanna, declaring during his election campaign: "there's nothing wrong with our (public) schools." That a family member receives a paycheck there couldn't have influenced his defensiveness? Yes?
Conflict of interest? Boy, talk about: "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."
And administrators and faculty are there primarily for the school kids? Is that their agenda before the legislature? Put the kids, not themselves, first? I doubt it.
Are the kids paying the lobbyists? No? Does that tell you anything?
Here, by way of collateral reference, is what author Goldberg has to say, about how powerful and entrenched is the teacher union lobby, from his character study #28 (Julian Bond):
"Today, the NAACP no longer has any special moral standing. Today, it's just one more, highly politicized special interest group, like the abortion lobby or the teachers union. More than anyone else, Julian Bond hijacked the supposedly nonpartisan NAACP and set it down firmly inside the left wing of the Democratic Party."
XIII. Next, into the list of one hundred,...
1. Michael Moore - Goldberg's bone of contention seems to be Moore's movie, "Fahrenheit 9/11". Coincidentally, its title closely resembles, "Fahrenheit 451", a thought-provoking, classic, suspense thriller, written in the spirit of Orwell's "1984". And, the author of the latter, Bradbury, happens to be from my home town. Was so good, that actor Oskar Werner and Director Francois Truffaut signed on to help realize its rendition into a movie.
As for Moore's movie, I've never seen it, nor do I plan to. The buzz says that its premise is, Bush II is the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks on the east coast.
Wait! Reality check time. I don't care what your political persuasion is. Sounds most outlandish to me.
On the other hand, I have greatly enjoyed other of Moore's works. His "Capitalism: A Love Story", and "Bowling for Columbine", are the ones I'm thinking of. Although, in latter, I do find dastardly his mis-treatment of elderly actor, Charlton Heston; how Moore ambushed him. But, positively, I do sign on as to Moore's themes in both documentaries.
The middle class is being kicked out of their homes, at the same time that being rammed through Congress, is the bail-out of the hoods and inept of Wall Street. The massive bail-out of white collar criminals constituted a virtual coup d'etat of our government, when Bush II's treasury secretary prevailed in brow beating legislators to countermand their "no" votes. An Ohio Congresswoman caught up in it, declared exactly that, in her own words: un-Constitutional overthrow of the State, is essentially what happened here.
And the mega-bucks were freely meted out, without strings, i.e. no judicial recourse nor oversight, nor accountability as to disbursement! Moore advocates that those crooks belong in federal prison, not back out on the street. Very right you are, Mr. Moore.
As for Columbine, here's a town that makes its money off of manufacturing weapons of mass destruction (missiles) to launch at foreign antagonists. Then, "the chickens come home to roost."
Take note of, and be horrified by, what the employees' children take it upon themselves to inflict, as their contribution to the world of violence. Pre-meditated, massive homicide.
3. EFK (Senator Ted) - "a distillery of meanness," as assessed by one William F. Buckley, Jr.
6. Jimmy Carter - a dupe, Goldberg seems to lament. So, one wonders, when it comes to elections, if they really are free and fair, both in Latin America and domestically. Is Carter's monitoring of any efficacy?
When Mr. Carter accepts the printed results as accurate, regarding Chavez' recall election in Venezuela, it makes me wonder about how we live, here. Is our system fail-safe? The computer print-out displayed that Chavez had won, versus exit polls which tallied him as suffering recall for solely mustering 37% approval.
Now locally, was it one election or were there two, since we've had the computer counting, of voter cast ballots, that it has churned out serious error? For example, I recall the year a gentleman ran for alderman in Waukegan, and was initially informed by vote count authorities that he was the victor.
Hours later, they recanted; now the machine was saying he had lost. The "infallible" computer had erred. Obvious questions: "who's programming these electronic servants", and, "to serve whom?" Could the mis-counts happen again, given similar hardware and software?
7. Margaret Marshall, head judge of her state's supreme court. Cf. my essays: "Marriage: What it Means to Rest of Us," and "President Obama Weighs In." Here seems, we have, under scrutiny, the judicial activist behind the very first state to enact into law, gay marriage. We're talking 2004 Massachusetts.
Goldberg says he doesn't care if "Adam loves Eve" or "Adam loves Steve." But, that's not the point. The judge goes against four thousand years of Judeo-Christian theology, and, the political and popular realities of the American citizenry, whom all polls indicate, overwhelmingly oppose the change. People don't want this rammed down their throats.
Describe it anyway you want, as to reasoning. But here are the results: Marshall yes, Goldberg no, American citizens no, and yours truly, resoundingly no.
17. Al Sharpton - "hate-mongering, racial hustler."
He's charismatic and a great communicator, definite plusses; so much for his style and skills. The problem is his message and the results it brings about.
a. His defense of Khalid Muhammad, a gay-bashing, Jew-hating, anti-Catholic, whom Sharpton praised as "an articulate and courageous brother."
b. His never-recanted defense of prevaricator Tawana Brawley, who alleged, she had been gang-raped by white guys. Grand jury found suspects to be innocent. Sharpton convicted of defamation in connection therewith.
c. His involvement with Freddy's Fashion Mart of Harlem, the massacre of 1995. He fanned the flames of hatred.
Sharpton's organization set up a picket line in front of the landlords who were seeking to raise the rent on a Black establishment. The dissent escalated and turned ugly.
One of the protestors burst into Freddy's two-and-a-half weeks before Christmas, and shot four employees, then utilized paint thinner to set the building on fire.
The end result: killed were seven innocent people, and the gunman.
Sharpton's reaction: "I am a preacher, not a prophet. I could not know, in advance, what this was going to come to."
New Republic commentator Peter Beinart observed, as characteristic of Sharpton: the "moral train wrecks that dot his career."
18. Al Gore - probably at the crux of why he did not prevail with more votes, over (W.) Bush in 2000: personality. There are two Gores. Confusing, yes?
There's the old, toady, pre-2000 Al. He's the wooden man, overly cautious about too much, lacking in spontaneity. Then comes the raging lion, anti-W, transformed Gore, later on.
Further, when he cannot tell an interviewer that an innocent fetus deserves to be born, even if the mother carrying him is condemned to death row, so as not to alienate the pro-abortion lobby, this has to be disconcerting for the voters. Never mind that the baby has no fault.
In your heart you wonder, when is it that he really means something? Or, is he simply pandering?
22. Michael Newdow. [He was] The impetus behind removing pledge of allegiance's "under God", in public schools, thrown out the window. Again, mis-placed priorities.
Is the battle worth fighting? Is the friction and damage caused, worth the remedy obtained? I agree with Goldberg that there's so much else we could focus on, to make this nation better.
32 & 31. Springer and Povich talk shows. What losers they parade before us to meditate on! You got to get down into the gutter to partake of this banquet. What does this do to our culture, to be mired in failure and misery? How can this take us to where we should be going?
37. Al Franken as comedian. The entire interview transcription with Goldberg is a farce. A satirist is supposed to strive to obtain an improvement in our quality of life, thru their style of analyzing, spoofing, and criticizing. Ostensibly, is what both this guy and author do.
But, entire, radio show interview serves as no more than publicity for Franken and his comedy. Is this okay for the savant, map memorizer and comedian? Depends.
You see, now Franken is U.S. Senator from Minnesota. I can only hope that he has jettisoned such interview antics for alternative style, where voters may take him more seriously. He doesn't have to change to phlegmatic and morose in his new job, but he should try to avoid being zany, crazy, ridiculous, impertinent, and puerile.
Afterthought: step away and you're liable to get this impression. The whole exercise is a mutual admiration between the two celebrities, disguised as faux contentiousness. They're publicizing each other, more than anything else. That's the bottom line.
Here, at home, it made me recall a political campaign from earlier this year. There was an acrid exchange of postcards between two of the mayoral candidates, the state senator and the ultimate victor. Were they strategizing along similar lines?
There has to be some reason for what they did. In any event, the result, publicizing each other, was the same. (There was a third candidate, an alderman, who was notably omitted from all this. Consequently, worked out that he received no publicity. Nor, did he win.)
42. Gloria Steinem. Hypocrisy. How this feminist can be an apologist for Bill Clinton, regarding what Paula Jones and Kathleen Wiley alleged as to sexual harrassment, is a conundrum. Steinem, in essence, said, even if he was guilty, that it was unimportant.
So, how's that, from a feminist leader? Pretty bad, right?
Goldberg says it's a matter of, attack perceived enemies and give friends a pass. That Steinem had her perspective published as an op-ed in the New York Times, has only got to perplex, even more. That is, unless you understand it, as sacrifice principle to political expediency. Mr. Clinton was her feminist issues ally after all, like on abortion.
43. Paul Eibeler - the CEO behind the video game, "Grand Theft Auto." I first heard about this product, some ten years ago, while down in Puerto Rico. A neighbor's grandkids, ages ten and seven, had gotten hold of it. [This is] [N]othwithstanding that, under Eibeler's watch, the game had had its availability made more restricted, by making its rating, "adult".
The older kid was so enthralled. It must have made him feel, vicariously, like some kind of wayward and powerful adult.
You get to win by bumping off policemen, acquiring more prostitutes, and committing grand larceny, etc., etc. If here is where the future generation is learning its values, run for cover. Bring back the fall-out shelters!
Up-date: As of 20 September 2013, is being reported revenues generated by the latest edition of "Grand Theft Auto", its 5th installment. World-wide, product, premier sales are at $800 million!
Here, in town, at a restaurant today, the cashier's son, turns out is a player. He's 20 years old and a rookie policeman.
As to the whole, popularity phenomenon, I don't get it. Are people suicidal, immoral, or merely incapable of seeing beyond the ends of their noses? Is this leading the fans anywhere but in the wrong direction? Comments, anyone?
45. Ken Lay. Enron - chariman/ CEO. Tens of thousands of employees, summarily wiped out, thanks to his mis-conduct, and that of accomplices.
48. Robert Byrd. [I] Never knew anything bad about him. In fact, was a fiddle player; good, right?
But, there's KKK background in youth. And, appears was ego-maniacal: witness West Virginia's dozens of public works projects, all emblazoned with his name.
Apparently, was Mr. Pork Barrel, too. I guess, not too objectionable, provided you're not an American from any of the other 49 states.
49. Ingrid Newkirk. Priorities, again. I admit to being an animal lover. But, her crusade on their behalf, at the neglect of human bretheren, I find silly.
She complains to Yasser Arafat about Palestinian, suicide bombing, because of only one, particular, innocent victim. That would be, a donkey.
Is she rich or poor? Would be a further help in classifying her either as "eccentric" or "crazy", respectively.
50. John Vasconcellos. He wants to bolster school kids' self-esteem. Here, I decidedly depart from author's viewpoint. I rather like that.
In the words of a high school teacher, who was mom to an ex-girlfriend of mine long ago, "high school's primarily about helping kids mature and grow up." My experience confirms, that I agree she's exactly on point.
As my being an alumnus, who took two years of Biology in private and public high school, only later to discover that the time spent on them was of little usefulness for university biology, and virtually of nil utility for medical school's human anatomy, histology, and microbiology, among other courses, I can attest to the veracity of aforesaid high school teacher's assessment. So, if Vasconcellos wants to focus more on the kids' mindset, their self-perception, and having confidence to go into the world before them, I have to concur that he's on to something.
It's not just about churning out clock watchers programmed to head out to the factories and civil service jobs when they graduate. It should be about engendering professionals, engineers, scientists, artists, and leaders, to guide our society when their time comes.
The graduates' success has more to do with what they believe they can do, than with what the wardens of the asylum have inculcated into them, to think that they know. "Garbage in, garbage out," is the tried, computer truism. Or, as Henry Ford famously said: "if you think you can, then you can; also just as true, if you think you cannot, then you're probably right, also."
So, if Vasconcellos obtains, that these kids graduate thinking they can, then that's a very great achievement. That's why they call graduation, commencement. More than anything else, it's a beginning.
53. Anna Nicole Smith. Again, a question of focus. Can we get onto material that does more for us than momentary distraction, and that's of some redemptive value?
54. Neal Shapiro. NBC boss who puts ratings above serious journalism. How important is focus, and the menu or diet which the media serves up!
I recently viewed "1001 Classic Commercials", a DVD set of the golden age of television. Not yet in its entirety have I seen all of it, -- it's some 16 hours long -- but excerpts. The moral is: how powerful is mental diet and brain-washing!
I was especially struck by the DVD segments on alcoholic beverages and cigarettes. This used to be standard fare on the boob tube, in my youth, during the days of "Laugh-in", "Lucy", and "Andy Griffith". Boy, if you bit on all that stuff, hook, line, and sinker, it's a wonder you're still here.
I recall a west Texas, law school "Damages" professor from the 80's, arguing against me in class, that cigarette warnings were a bad idea. There I was, warning of emphysema, heart disease, and cancer. He acted like I was Simon Legree to the "aggrieved" tobacco companies.
This is the same prof, who on another occasion, decried me as being "judgmental" about incarcerating criminals. Dah! That's not what law professionals do, recur to a set of fundamental values, to guide society?
Anyway, cigarette ads are long gone. But, I remain amazed how propaganda and repetition can prevail to foist deleterious products and services upon a receptive, non-alert public.
Like Goldberg says in another part of the book regarding modern, comedy show content, "if the networks transmitted hard core porn, there would be a portion of the public who would readily tune in to it, simply because it's there, easily available. This they would do reflexively, accepting without critically thinking."
The point is, the broadcasters have a duty to the public, or should, to afford to us a healthy menu. Putting ratings first, or sales first, is inimical to this mission. And, in this day and age, cable TV remains unregulated, compared against the FCC-governed, air waves. Similarly, cell phones are unregulated as compared against telephone, land lines. It would appear that the wild, wild west persists currently, in the American marketplace, in these guises, for examples. Would that caveat emptor were enough.
So, again, it comes down to, what quality of leaders do we have in the diverse walks of life in society? For it is upon them, that depends our future.
61. Michael Savage. I have listened to his program on various occasions, at times in its entirety. What I like is his candor and cojones, his dissection of sacred cows.
At the same time, even when I agree with him, I feel trepidation over calling in to chat. It would be like walking on eggshells. If you say the wrong thing to this guy, he's vehemently crabbing and aligning the peanut gallery against you. [I'm] Not too eager to undergo that.
So, what's the bottom line? This San Francisco-based, social commentator and political analyst, also, you might say, is an entertainer. That insight helps to explain what you hear.
He's like in the vein of the late, Morton Downey. Only, here's a show where what's talked about, is of relevance to one's life in this society. It rises above Downey's diatribes and gratuitous, invective attack against guests, as he sucks down his next cigarette. (Downey ended up dieing of lung cancer.) Another distinction is that Savage is an educated fellow; doctorate from Berkeley.
Says Goldberg: "he makes Ann Coulter look like Mary Tyler Moore." Very true. I guess Savage's style is too much over the top. It's non-stop vitriol and bile.
Does he really give a bad name to conservatives? I'm not so sure about that. I do not see it as Goldberg does.
But, Savage is kind of like the heavy metal, music intro to his show. Enjoyable for awhile, if you've got the taste. Then saturating, next deafening, and thereupon, painful and unpleasant. It's a bit like the most daring ride at the amusement park: is "kicks" at first, but thereupon nauseating, if overdone.
I guess he's carved out for himself a niche in some part of our culture, but in my finite experience, it's with the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, or Alice Cooper, Farrakhan, or Glenn Beck. However, let me clarify, I don't mean to obfuscate the persona of any of these other, polemical personalities, by association.
Maybe there is, no one like Mr. Mike. That's what's meant by the "Savage Nation", when battlefield artillery and grenades are firing, as we hear the show's lead-in.
Savage's looking askance at big pharma and their mouthpieces, the M.D.'s, is laudable. Their advocating to have more kids classified "ADD", to be able to push more Ritalin, is worthy of his investigation and comment. His earlier career writing health books, and his current push for more naturopathic remedies, is heartening.
On the other hand, his incessant, obssessive calumny against Obama is decidedly tiresome. He's knee jerk, in his antipathy to all things associated with our current commander-in-chief. That fixation is most wearisome. When he gets on that tirade, it's soon that I tune him out.
Any let-up by way of humor? Why gratefully, yes! There's word play, with dictionary vocabulary and people's names.
Examples include, "the mid-stream media", referring to the schlock that we're often peddled by the "mainstream media". Of course, the imagery here is the clean catch, devoid of bacteria, that medical technologists collect to run analyses of urine samples.
Get it? What the media is feeding us is bodily waste, excretory product, which deserves to be discarded down the sewer, not assimilated and digested as if it was healthful in furthering our development and progress.
Politician and celebrity names are made sport of, too. U.S. Senator (IL) Richard Durbin becomes Turban Durbin. Al Gore morphs into Al Gorleone (a la the Godfather's Don Corleone). Bush II's secretary of state becomes Condoleezza Rice-A-Roni. Ha-ha-ha. Ho-ho-ho.
In a black humor vein, he lampoons Presidential candidate McCain, as being "The Manchurian Candidate". See, McCain, a Viet Nam veteran, was a P.O.W. at the "Hanoi hilton", back in the day. Implication is that he was permanently traumatized there, so that he's liable to snap at any time, during campaign, or, if elected, once in office. Does this kind of humor serve any useful purpose in helping us choose the right candidate? I doubt it.
His over the top aversion and lack of sensitivity for certain individuals is often a decided minus. Now, when he says producer Phil Spector deserves the sentence he is serving for homicide, I would agree. Surely, he deserves at least that.
But, when Savage reviles the distraught actor Mel Gibson over the problems in his romantic life, playing tape recordings of exchanges between Mel and his Russian girlfriend fighting, that's too rough. Or, when he stirs and churns the turmoil regarding the odd circumstances of "Kung Fu" actor Carradine's demise; again, it's too abrasive in my view, too unfeeling and ghoulish. It's cruel and unusual on the good Doctor's part, I would say.
It's a fine line, apparently, he walks, between being incitefully edgy, rather than tasteless, boorish, rude, and lacking in de minimus etiquette. How did comedian Lenny Bruce ever get in so much trouble? Were the times then, that restrictive and suffocating? Did it have to do with his medical problems?
I'm glad Savage, these days, can talk freely. I simply wish he'd exercise his right to do so with more humanity and finesse.
63. Amy Richards. Abortion advocate, looks at procedure much as one would at taking ibuprofen, for assuaging the congestion of a runny nose.
Carrying triplets? Why, have medical practitioner suck the lives out of two, for convenience's sake. Otherwise, too likely to interfere with grocery shopping and seasonal income. She makes the choice look extremely easy.
Inhuman and despicable? Most decidedly. Non-prohibited and legal? Also, yes. What a twisted web we weave!
65. Oliver Stone. As much as I like the world of cinema, how pathetic and lamentable is what Goldberg decries here. What is the point of creating documentary-type film which purports to be accurate history, when it is actually nothing other than a distorted vehicle for the author to advocate his political agenda to viewers?
Then, call it what it is. Fictional entertainment. Please don't seek to disguise it as valuable, authentic information.
66. David Duke. Well, Bush I first alerted us to him. Now, Duke has stature in the Arab world as one of our "ex-Senators", says Dubai.
I'm astounded. Is the middle east really that out of whack? To accept this character as an authority of what American political policy is, or should be? Very troubling.
67. Randall Robinson. Reparations for slavery thinker. Okay. How would that be worked out, in practice?
By the way, my grandparents came to the USA from Europe around year 1900. Am I to be held accountable for chipping in to the reparations fund, also? I should not think so.
Incidentally, Robinson is now an ex-patriot; and look where he's re-located to. [You're] Not familiar with the Caribbean island? Clue: pull out a ten dollar bill and have a good look at the face of our first Treasury secretary. Mr. Hamilton was born there.
68. Katherine Hudson. I used to think National Science Foundation was an eminent institution. Now, I have my doubts.
Here's a diehard who's a principal investigator for NSF, churning out never before seen data, which is impossible to substantiate. For example: -- "violence is leading cause of death
of women" (not heart disease nor cancer).
-- "four million women are beaten to death in USA, annually" (the true data is: four thousand women are murdered here, annually).
And, sorry Bernie, but your "one million female deaths from all causes", annually, does not compute: we have 300 million plus, citizens nationwide. If one million women (and a like number of men) die each year, then it will take 150 years for everyone to die.
Nice thought, and maybe someday soon, that long a life span will be factual, thanks to advances in technology and science. But, meanwhile, average life span here, at birth, is somewhere in the high 70's, not 150.
69. Matt Kunitz. Producer, "Fear Factor". What a freak show he puts on!
Contestants: 1. eat live, African cave-dwelling spiders; 2. are zipped up in morgue, body bags infested by giant, hissing cockroaches; 3. eat "spaghetti" consisting of night crawlers and blood balls; 4. eat a horse's rectum; etc., etc., ad nauseum.
Side-lined at the circus, maybe permissible. Injected into our living rooms? I don't think so.
70. Jimmy Swaggart. I remember him best as the deluge of tears from the Phil Hartman caricature on Saturday Nite Live. Goldberg's anecdote only adds fuel to the fire, in my disdain for this charlatan, masquerading as a moral compass for the faithful. The disgraced Bakkers were the most well-known TV evangelists I had heard of, prior to his making the scene.
80. Kitty Kelley. Reminds me of the pseudo-biographer, Clifford Irving, to billionaire Howard Hughes, who completely fabricated the supposed, interview content of the book he wrote. Then was taken up by well-known publisher and sold to public.
Now, Kelley comes to libel President Reagan and wife. How does author expect to get away with this? What was she thinking? Who is this character, anyway?
81. Tim Robbins. I'll only say a couple things, both in his defense, and, speculative.
First, he reflexively thought of defending his family before anything else, thus the belligerent stance he took in Goldberg's anecdote. Second, not married to mother of their child, actress Sarandon? Maybe, both are gun-shy of avaricious, divorce lawyers, and being pre-emptive of any eventuality. Cf. Goldberg's chapter on legal jackals.
86. Chris Ofili. [This is] The guy who uses arses and excrement to depict the Catholic Church's virgin Mary. I won't say artist, because that's not what he is.
Gratuitous insult of what so many hold dear in their faith, only begins to describe the damage this cretin does. I suppose you can freely express as you wish in our society, but then making victimized taxpayers have to pay for the privilege of being insulted, is only another reason to depise this clown.
92. Kerri Dunn. The California, psychology professor who victimized herself, a la "Dirty Harry", villain style, for monetary and other gain. Begs the question: who's teaching our kids at college, and isn't there a more effective way they can be screened before they get to our children?
94 & 93. Velella and Timmons. Convicted, criminal gall. How can a New York politician convicted of taking $137,000 in bribes and a murderer who beheaded two family members, and stabbed to death a third, be appealing and demanding of the authorities, that they either be released from jail, or be granted 80 million dollars in damages for police brutality?
That the legal system in our country would entertain both scenarios to the extent of releasing the first culprit, and continuing thru to jury verdict for the second, has got to indicate something seriously amoral and flawed about how jurisprudence is conducted here.
Yeah, I know from personal experience. It is woefully much, much less than perfect.
96. Eve Ensler. Author of, "Vagina Monologues". Need I say more?
[I guess I will.] And, that it has met with such widespread acclaim! How about someone authoring and publishing, "Penis Monologues"? At what point have we finally strayed beyond appropriate and decent, and abandoned civility?
97. Todd Goldman. T-shirt tycoon. Makes buku bucks from boy bashing messages. When does it stop being about money and convert to doing something constructive for society? For some, apparently, never.
99. M. Lesko. "The government's got plenty of free money that's yours, just for the asking", is his mantra. [Is] Case in point of why insomniacs should avoid late-nite, info-mercials.
100. Parents of Paris Hilton. Guilty for their malfeasance in raising her.
Just when I thought there wasn't anything else that I didn't know about the heir-head, Paris inquires: "Wal-Mart. Like is that where they make walls?"
Technical criticism: The book would do well with the inclusion of a table of contents, and, index. Especially helpful is the latter, to make it easy to reference specific
www.BernardGoldberg.com is author's web-site.
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