Archive for the ‘Political Satire’ Category

Avalanche On Bullshit Mountain

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

John Stewart’s classic look at the moment the Republicans realized they had lost and tried to justify it to themselves. 

What an incredible story to tell yourself: We would have won were it not for the moral failings of the non-real America. Fox lost because last night minorities, who feel entitled to things, came and took the country from the self sufficient white Medicare retirees and upper class tax avoidance experts, or as they’re also known, your audience.

Perfect.

Republican Schizophrenia on Middle East Policy

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

Here’s a Jon Stewart riff from a couple of weeks ago on the hypocrisy of Republicans using the death of the Ambassador in Libya as a reason to attack Obama’s foreign policy.

Republican critiques of Middle East policy are actually more complex than just the usual Republican hypocrisy in that they get to the heart of a real rift in the Republican party on Middle East Policy. On the one hand, you have what we might want call the “The Arabs Only Understand Force” Republicans–the people who believe that the solution to almost every problem is military force and the threat of military force. These people want to play a version of Cold War era global chess with the Middle East, supporting our dictator friends and deposing the others. They don’t give a shit about democratization and many of them believe that the Arabs can’t handle the freedom. On the other hand, we have the neo-cons, who think that the key to our security in the Abab world lies in allowing these countries to democratize. The theory here is that democracy and freedom lead to economic growth, and economic growth leads to stability, and stability leads to less terrorism which leads to our security. Whether that is actually true is the central question of the Middle East for the next few decades and a topic for another day.

The problem with Republicans under Obama is that they are so mixed up that they constantly shift from one pole to another. This is what allows Republicans who scoffed at Democratic arguments that we should get rid of George W. Bush when he invaded the wrong country, Al Qaeda rushed in and fanned the flames of a sectarian war and 100,000 people died, but have the temerity to say that Obama’s Middle East policy is a failure because of an attack on our embassy and protests across the Middle East. A few weeks ago, my conservative uncle, who was an ardent Bush supporter eight years ago, actually tried to make the argument that Obama should be voted out because “the Middle East is in flames” and people are protesting against our embassies after Obama said that everyting would be better after he was elected. I pointed out that he is suffering from the same short term memory that so many of his fellow Republicans seem to be experiencing these days.

Another example of Republican schizophrenia on Middle East Policy can be seen in contradictory Republican messages messages on Libya and Syria. In Libya, we had a very constrained but effective tactical role in overthrowing a historic enemy of the United States which was accomplished with no American casualties. We now have an emerging, albeit fragile democracy in the country, but also the presence of some militant groups that have yet to be dealt with and unarmed, one of which attacked our embassy a few weeks ago. So you hear from the “Arabs Only Understand Force” Republicans like Ben Stein, who wrote that

It’s amazing that Qaddafi kept saying that the people fighting against him were al Qaeda and we kept helping them — and sure enough, they turned out to be al Qaeda. And Qaddafi, who had become our friend — although a cruel and vile man — was killed by the rebels so now Libya is in large measure in the hands of al Qaeda. 

Too many factual innacuracies to go into detail on (the government isn’t Al Qaeda, the rebels are), but this is a main point of the AOUF Republicans: we deposed Qadaffi and empowered Al Qaeda. Well that’s a reasonable enough argument, but it’s slightly less credible coming from the same people whose response was basically “shut the fuck up” when the exact same argument was made about the War in Iraq (the main difference being tens of thousands of American soldiers wounded, thousands of US soldiers killed, our eye off the Osama bin Laden ball and over a trillion dollars added to the federal debt). 

Similarly, AOUF Republicans blame the Obama administration for the emergence of the Egyptian Brotherhood, but it’s not clear what the alternative was for them. Encourage the government to fire on the protestors? Take sides with our traditional ally when the writing was on the wall that he would ultimately be deposed by his own people?

On Syria, the Republicans have the luxury of an almost diametrically opposed argument to wield against Obama: he isn’t doing enough to help overthrow the Assad regime, even though it’s not clear who would take Assad’s place and there is ample documentation that Al Qaeda are among the groups backing the Sunni insurgency in a conflict that breaks down largely on sectarian lines.

Look, these are tough calls, but that’s partly the point. It’s tough to sit back and watch a government slaughter it’s people, but it’s also probably not wise to help overthrow one government when you don’t know what kind of government is most likely to replace it. Fortunately for the Republicans, they can complain no matter what happens: if we continue to support the Syrians revels with only words, then we’re not doing enough and Obama is showing American weakness. If we enable them to take power and the government that everges is even slightly more Islamic than it is today, then Obama’s foreign policy is a failure because he allowed “radical muslim extremists” to take power.

In the meantime, there’s nothing you can do about it but laugh. 

Fear and Pandering in Las Vegas

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

 

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And the winner of the Republican Presidential Debate is….

Barack Obama.

Jon Stewart breaks it down.

How Would Jesus Poll?

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Ep. 226: September 30, 2011 – Overtime

With the media all hyped up about Republican Flavor of the Month Chris Christie, Bill Maher reminds us that not only might Republicans sour on Christie once they learn more about him, but Republicans wouldn’t vote for Jesus himself if he were running in the Republican Presidential Primary.

Never Pick a Fight With A Comedian

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

I actually wrote this a while back, but it seemed a little off key with the whole Republicans-holding-the-United-States-economy-hostage-in-order-to-get-their-way-in-a-political fight, crisis. Now that the memories are fading slightly, here you go…

Thought this recent skirmish between Jon Stewart and Fox News was interesting.

On June 2oth, Stewart appeared on Fox News Sunday for an interview with Chris Wallace. The interview featured some mild fireworks as Wallace ran a number of clips from the Daily Show and attempted to tar Stewart as a hypocrite for having his own biases while criticizing Fox.

Wallace is usually sited as the best example of a legitimate newsman at a network full of partisan hacks, but I was somewhat surprised at how much Wallace appeared to have drank the Fox Kool Aid, actually making the argument that Fox’s overt partisan agenda is in the same league as the more subtle biases of other news organizations. As Stewart noted, MSNBC may have attempted to follow Fox’s model, but it is not even close to Fox as an effective propaganda tool of the left.

Wallace’s biggest mistake in the interview was this attempt to create some equivalence between Fox News and The Daily Show. Fox is a partisan organization that tries to pawn itself off as a ”fair and balanced” news outlet, while The Daily Show is a comedy show that has no obligation or pretense of being a fair arbiter of the news.  Right off the bat, Wallace begins the fight with a disadvantage.

The coverage of the interview on the left mostly focused on the fact that Fox edited out Stewart’s comments about Bill Sammon, a Fox News exec whose released e-mails show him encouraging Fox News employees to deliberately distort the news in order to score partisan points for conservatives.

Stewart also got dinged by the Right for saying that Fox viewers were “consistently” the least informed of all news viewers. Politifact checked this statement and found that, while a number of studies had shown this, others had not, so Jon Stewart’s statement had to be considered “false.” Fair enough, but later that week, Stewart hit back on his show (see above), with a scathing scroll of the most eggregious false statements by Fox over the past few years, including Politifact’s “biggest lie of the year” for both 2009 and 2010 (can they get the trifecta this year? Stay tuned…).

The Fox propaganda machine went into high gear. Over a period of just a few days, they went on the attack against Stewart over a piece that he had done on presidential candidate Herman Cain’s (hopefully tongue in cheek) statement that he would only approve bills that were 3 pages or shorter. The party line on Stewart for the week was that Stewart was racist, refused to admit his political bias and that a conservative wouldn’t have been able to get away with those jokes.

But once again, Fox undermined their own point. First of all, by releasing a clearly coordinated attack on Stewart, they provided yet aother example of how manipulated their “news” coverage is. Second, arguing that Jon Stewart is racist is laughable, and finally, of course there’s a double standard: One is a comedian whose show airs right after South Park and a show that features puppets having sex. The other is desperately trying to portray itself as a “fair and balanced” news organization despite all evidence to the country.

Stewart’s response, makes the point well.

The lesson for Chris Wallace:

Never pick a fight with a comedian. You’ll lose every time.

The Debt Negotiations in 6 1/2 Minutes

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

This pretty much sums it up.

American History by Michele Bachmann

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

:)

Happy Independence Day to All.

Jon Stewart Explains the Ryan Plan

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

The Daily Show – Ryan’s Private Savings – Path to Prosperity
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If you have more than a few minutes, here is the intro.

Bill Maher Explains the Budget with Dinner

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

This is great (start at 3:39).

I’ve been saying all along that the thing the Tea Partiers never understood is that the bulk of Federal spending is in programs that people in the Tea Party actually like (like Social Security, Medicare and Defense).

The initial Republican budget goes after things like NPR, Planned Parenthood, earmarks (less than 1% of the budget), but as Maher points out, that is like trying to decrease your calorie intake by cutting back on the garnish on your giant plate of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and mac and cheese.

It’s easy to don a tri-corn hat and rage against how Obama’s a Socialist, but it’s harder to cut programs that you like and surveys consistently show that Americans like a lot of programs and don’t have a firm grasp on what their money is spent on.

The wake up call is coming.

How Jon Stewart & Shep Smith Got the 9-11 First Responders Bill Passed

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Another story I didn’t get to during the holidays:

The role of Jon Stewart and Shepard Smith in getting the Zadroga bill passed.

The Zadroga bill funds health care and other benefits for 9-11 first responders and others who helped clean up the Ground Zero site in the aftermath of 9-11. You would think that, as much as the Republican’s used 9-11 as a political cudgel against the Democrats for the past 9 years, they would wholehaertedly support the idea of taking care of the America’s heroes…and if they didn’t support it, that they would easily be shamed by the Democrats to support the bill.

But if you thought those things, you would be wrong. The bill was brought up in the House in July but didn’t pass due to partisan manuvering on both sides. It finally did pass the House in September, but the Senate had not taken it up before the election and the Democrats wanted to pass it during the lame duck session. In an amazing display of party unity (not to mention chutzpah), the Republicans sucessfully filibustered aid to 9-11 first responders, so that they could get tax cut extentions for the top 2% of earners.

After they got those tax cuts passed, they then said that they didn’t have time for the bill and that it would have to be put off until the new Congress was sworn in (which would make it significantly more difficult for passage). With the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal and the START treaty also on the docket, many pundits declared the Zadroga bill dead.

Jon Stewart had actually been on this issue early in the process, covering the partisan bickering that caused it to fail in the house initially, but with the prospects for passage becoming increasingly dim, Stewart featured it in December. His initial piece included a parade of Republican politicians who had invoked their sacrifice of 9/11 first responders to score political points, but refused to support a fund to help them deal with terminal illnesses they developed while inhaling that toxic air. The hypocrisy was stunning. Before he signed off for the year, Stewart dedicated his entire last show to the bill.

The show started with an into that explained the situation, focusing specifically on the almost complete lack of media coverage, but especially Fox, who had cranked up their 9-11 outrage machine so many times before to support Republican political goals.  

Then, in some of the most powerful television I have ever seen, Stewart interviewed a panel of  four 9-11 first responders who were terminally ill.

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9/11 First Responders React to the Senate Filibuster
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Stewart asked them to respond to clips of Senator Mitch McConnel sheding tears about the retirement of fellow senator, Judd Gregg, and Senator Jon Kyl saying that Harry Reid holding the Senate in session after the Christmas holiday would be disrespectful to Christmas itself. Watching these terminally ill guys respond to those clips with their dry New York City wit and their calm dignity was devastatng.

Poor Mike Huckabee didn’t even get a chance to plug his children’s book, as Stewart grilled him about why Fox hadn’t cranked up their 9-11 outrage machine on this issue.

The next day, Shep Smith at Fox News took up the torch for Jon Stewart, speaking passionately to Mike Wallace about how outrageous it was that help for the heroes of 9-11 was being blocked so that “we could give tax cuts to Warren Buffett.”

The next Monday, Shep was at it again, pointing out that, since his show is on Fox, they are able to get call backs from Republican legislators, and then proceeding to name every single senator who had refused to come on his show to discuss this.

On Tuesday, New York Senator’s Kirsten Gilibrand and Chuck Schumer announced that they had the votes to block a filibuster and would pass it during the lame duck session. Later in that day Senator Tom Coburn announced that he had put an anonomous block on the legislation in an attempt to run out the clock on the lame session and kill the bill (Coburn had claimed that this was being passed without any hearings, but as Rachel Maddow pointed out, the hearings actually took place in Coburn’s Committee.)

Shep Smith called out Senator Coburn directly, saying:

this is the picture of Senator Tom Coburn, Republican from Oklahoma… he is the man who is trying to slow this down or block it, so that the necessary  funding for the ilnesses of the first responders who made it to Ground Zero to try to save lives on the day that America changed, remember? This is the senator who is vowing to block it, so that it doesn’t make it through: Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma.

Apparently, the Republicans got the message and realized that, if they couldn’t get Fox News to support them, they were really on the wrong side of this issue.

The bill (with $2 billion less in it and some changes in the funding) passed the Senate the next day by voice vote.

After the holiday, Stewart had Kirsten Gillibrand on his show and she thanked him for his advocacy on the issue. Stewart demurred, saying that he just did the obvious thing, but it’s not an exaggeration to say that this bill probably would not have passed if not for the work that both Jon Stewart and Shep Smith did to put pressure on the Republicans.