Saturday, June 30, 2007

Politics and Wrestling - (unfortunately) together at last

This site is billed as Politics AND Wrestling but many of you will know I rarely talk about wrestling in its purest context. This site is about politics. I was weighing up whether I should talk about this issue as I know people don't come here for wrestling updates.

There was news recently that has shocked the wrestling world. Chris Benoit, considered one of the world's best pure wrestlers was the perpetrator of a murder-suicide involving his family and ending with taking his own life. Its quite stunning but not altogether surprising considering the hyper reality and scandal surrounding that lifestyle. Its actually why i think its a fitting analogy for punditry/politics.

Fox News are all over this story. APF pundits Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity together with the rest of the FoxNews team have covered it interviewing former wrestlers and other relevant professionals. Of note is an interview with Chris Jericho former WWE wrestler and someone who considered Benoit his "best friend" and "brother". Also Debra Marshall, former wife of 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin. Austin is considered one of the most popular and marketable wrestlers of all time, he has been in trouble with the law multiple times for domestic abuse against Debra.

VIDEO: Watch Bill O'Reilly's interview discussing the Benoit tragedy 

and the lifestyle that may have led to it

See what Fox News has to say here
See what Hannity's guests have to say on the issue
Considering Bill O'Reilly's history (google for yourself) this is a fascinating angle on the story. Not surprising though. Watch here.


Go to LiveAudioWrestling to hear an in-depth look at this issue from a wrestling fan's perspective. Discussing all factors from steroids, head trauma, domestic abuse and the grueling wrestling schedule. Listen to this week's episode here. Read more about the panel here.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Pundits VS The Politicans: Limbaugh, Levin, Ingraham and Hewitt

In the last post I mentioned Henry Rollins' contention that there is a power higher than the politicians and the pundit class. In this post we'll be asking who has more influence over the people, the pundits or the politicians.

This question has been playing out in America at this very moment. Generally speaking APF pundits spend their time in conflict with their ideological opponents whether they be politicians, celebrities, voters or other pundits. If there is any discord from an ideological familiar, its usually in the interest of the pundit to ignore the issue. It can turn away voters or be used as ammunition or offer comfort to their opponents.

Political realities come into play for those in power from corporate interests and other lobby groups. This can trump the interests of the ordinary voter as personified by the talk radio listener. Pundits have the luxury of not being as directly swayed from these influences.

Ironically its much easier for pundits when their political representatives are out of power. It is at this moment of weakness that pundits are at their most effective. This is because when a party is out of power, by nature they are disjointed. There are many voices offering viewpoints on the course to reclaim power. They can afford to be more principled and hardline because their is no expectation or consequence as their representatives don't have the power to enact those suggestions.
Its all theoretical. Thinktank-ed. A game of rhetoric.

Every so often pundits will dissent from the party line. Its particularly notable when those in power upset their pundit constituency. Whilst it is necessary to revolt against the party to change a wrongheaded course, it also fractures the party's power. Its particularly confusing for voters when the pundit class are divided themselves. The Republicans are facing such a dilemma now with immigration. The right wing pundits and the GOP have not always been together on a united front, notably during the Harriet Miers nomination and the Dubai Ports scandal. This issue has particular impact this time around however as the Republicans are no longer in power.

Below is a sample of the right wing pundit class unhappy with their leaders. Pay particular note to references to Trent Lott, the Republican party's No. 2 in leadership. Senator Lott feeling the pressure has taken to bad mouthing the right wing pundit class, raising their ire.

Listen to Mark Levin mad at the GOP and Smacking down Trent Lott.
Read and Listen to Rush's take on Lott and his slur against talk radio
Listen to Laura Ingraham lay the smackdown on White House spokesperson Tony Snow
Listen to Hugh Hewitt praising Laura's smackdown
Listen to Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin in solidarity against their wrongheaded representatives

Monday, June 18, 2007

Henry Rollins on Air America Radio's 'Ring of Fire': Who has the power?

When we think of politicians, we think "people of power and influence". The whole idea behind the APF was the contention that it is actually the pundit class who wield the most influence. A handful of pundits can command a million-strong voting bloc, they shape the minds of the public and can unite them to a cause. Whilst the politicians ultimately have the last word in legislation, the Pundit Class can foment national feeling and set the agenda.

But perhaps its all subterfuge. Henry Rollins raised an interesting point regarding power in a conversation on Air America's 'Ring of Fire'. Maybe its neither the politicians nor the pundits setting the agenda?

Listen to the entire episode here (March 17, 2007)
View episode details here
Unfortunately I don't have it in smaller snippet form. The relevant bits start at the 11min mark.

Below is a rough transcript:
"... the top of the pyramid it's the KBRs and the people who make the world go round.... when you see the size and terms these people are thinking in, where you and you're sign downtown going 'Nooo more war'. Man they don't even watch, you don't matter... to a lot of these people... you're just an extra in their movie. Shut up and go along with it!
That's why you see guys like Sean Hannity, who wish they could be at the party. They've got the money but no one in real power is ever going to invite them anywhere. His best front seat was hanging out with Donald Rumsfeld going into Iraq."

It an interesting insight. Whilst the Pundit class in many ways is a lobby group for the people and political ideology, its no match for the larger monied and corporate interests.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Teaser: 4 new pundits

The countdown has begun. It's only a matter of time now.

Tell all your friends!

Friday, June 8, 2007

The week that was: Honorary APF pundits

Two of our favorite honorary APF pundits were in the news this week.

First Eric Alterman, Nation Columnist and the only pundit to feature in the APF Glossary. He was recently arrested during the CNN debate, later released after paying a fine of $30. He clears it up on Atrios' blog. Which goes to show that pundits just like wrestlers will often go afoul of the law.

Watch Eric being arrested captured on video
Via Scarce and Crooks and Liars

Secondly Christopher Hitchens, a pundit with the candor and abrasiveness that suits the APF perfectly. Following on from my previous post, he returned to Hugh Hewitt's show to participate in the much anticipated debate on religion. To recap, Hugh Hewitt softly condemned Christopher Hitchens during a conversation with James Dobson for his remarks against the departed Jerry Falwell. Hitchens is a weekly guest on Hewitt's program and had not appeared since. To the best of my knowledge Hugh has not brought up his objections with Hitchens directly.

The "Great God debate" was a 3 hour showdown between Hitchens and Pastor/Author Mark D. Roberts. Guest refereed by Hugh Hewitt. An entertaining listen.

Listen to the "Great God Debate" Part 1
Listen to the "Great God Debate" Part 2
Listen to the "Great God Debate" Part 3
Read the previous Christopher Hitchens post here

Monday, June 4, 2007

Profile 6: Rush Limbaugh and Bill Maher

Rush Limbaugh cartoon caricature art pundit
Rush Limbaugh is the premier conservative voice in America. He is credited with reviving AM radio and considered the main catalyst for the Republican Party's Congressional landslide in 1994. He has been consistently voted as the most influential talker in America. Both from those in the industry like Talkers Magazine and Newsmax to the whopping 20 million listeners who tune in weekly. Rush is the undisputed leader of Opinion Talk, topping countless lists. He is contracted to Premiere Radio Networks till 2009, for a reported $365 million making him the highest-paid radio personality ever. This earned him a spot in the 2006 Forbes Rich list. Rush has been the recipient of many awards, usually for his work towards the cause of the conservative movement. Rush was recently nominated for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Whilst Limbaugh has enjoyed immense success, controversy has followed him and he is targeted by many. He resigned from ESPN's football pregame show after remarks he had made. On October 10, 2003 admitted to his radio listeners that he was addicted to prescription painkillers. Limbaugh has often spent time off the air attending to these problems.

Rush has made several forays into television including a 4 year stint hosting his own self titled show ending in 1996. He had a tumultuous first time on TV guest hosting for Pat Sajak's late-night talk show in 1990. Most recently Rush can be found on Fox News' comedy show "1/2 hour News Hour". Rush is a big fan of '24'.

Rush has written 2 books: The Way Things Ought to Be (1992) and See, I Told You So (1993).

Bill Maher cartoon caricature art pundit
Bill Maher is a liberal comedian, actor, writer and producer. Whilst he has featured in and produced many movies, Bill is best known as the host of HBO's Real Time. Bill is known for his comedic social commentary and political satire. Prior to Real Time he hosted a similar politically themed talk show, Comedy Central's Politically Incorrect. This show premiered in 1993, predating the popular Daily Show which first aired in 1996.

Bill has written 5 books:
1) Does Anybody Have a Problem With That? Politically Incorrect's Greatest Hits, 1996
2) True Story: A Novel, 2002
3) When You Ride Alone You Ride With Bin Laden: What the Government Should Be Telling Us to Help Fight the War on Terrorism, 2003
4) Keep the Statue of Liberty Closed: The New Rules, 2004
5) New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer, 2005

Bill Maher has his own personal website which has an archive of feature articles.