Posts Tagged ‘The Daily Show’

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. 

What He Said

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

This is the best expression I’ve seen of the frustration most Obama supporters feel after Obama’s no-show at the debate last week. If you want the humor first, start with this one.

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.

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.

What the Hell Happened to John McCain?

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Two years after his historic loss to Barack Obama, it is worth asking: “What the hell happened to John McCain?” 

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McCain was one of my favorite Republicans back in the day (it’s a very short list), but in the past two years (and especially in the past one year), he has become unrecognizable.

The process started with the 2008 campaign, when he started kissing the asses of Jerry Falwell and the Christian Right after he had called them “agents of intolerance” in the 2000 Republican nomination campaign against George W. Bush. It continued as he embraced the Bush tax cuts in 2008 after campaigning in 2000 on a program that wasn’t much different than Al Gore’s “lockbox” and then voting against the tax cuts in the Senate in 2001.

But even through the 2008 election, he stuck to his guns on issues that he had bucked his party on, including Cap and Trade, Immigration Reform, the Border Fence, Campaign Finance, the DREAM Act and at least keeping an open mind on the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. On each one of those core issues, he has since reversed his position or stopped actively advocating for the policy.

Inevitably, these 180 degree reversals have invited parodies and armchair psychological theories on what is going on with this guy. Most of those analyses start with the fact that, as Richard Wolfe noted on Hardball, losing a presidential election “messes with your head.” Jacob Weisburg laid the situation out well (although quite melodramatically) during the 2010 primaries in an article which posited that a badly run campaign and the choice of Sarah Palin weighed heavily on McCain’s conscience. After McCain ended the year bitterly leading the charge against the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal, the DREAM Act and the START Treaty in the Lame Duck Session of the Senate, Time Magazine’s Joe Klein hammered McCain, writing: 

His public fall has been spectacular, a consequence of politics…and personal pique. He’s a bitter man now, who can barely tolerate the fact that he lost to Barack Obama. But he lost for an obvious reason: his campaign proved him to be puerile and feckless, a politician who panicked when the heat was on during the financial collapse, a trigger-happy gambler who chose an incompetent for his vice president. He has made quite a show ever since of demonstrating his petulance and lack of grace.

Jon Stewart’s piece (posted above) on how John McCain’s continual moving of the goalposts on on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell will forever put him on the wrong side of history is particularly devastating. Stewart (another former admirer of McCain) started this year lampooning McCain as a cranky old man who had become, “less as a paragon of straight talk independence… and more of an object lesson in just how f-ing mad people get when they don’t get their way.”

Of course, I can’t resist adding my own theory to all of this psychobabble:

It’s been a rough few years for McCain. His frustration that America chose the inexperienced Barack Obama over him was painfully visible throughout the campaign (think of the debate where he referred to Obama as “That One“). To top it off, McCain lost ugly, picking the inexperienced Sarah Palin after his advisers told him that, if he picked Lieberman, he would lose the election by fracturing the Republican base (not to mention creating the cranky old man/whiney old man ticket). Then, soon after this gut wrenching defeat, he faced a primary where he felt the only way to keep his job was to run as far to the right as possible, effectively going back on many of the things he had stood for throughout his career.

While this 180 degree change might have been easy for a politician like Mitt Romney, McCain has always had a strong sense of honor. My PhD in armchair psychoanalysis leads me to believe that the only way that McCain could cope with this was to internalize this new set of values and (as he has done so many other times in his life) embrace the new identity wholeheartedly. Add to this the anger at losing to Obama and McCain’s consistent tendency to rebel against any authority and you have a perfect storm to make the transition from Maverick to dogmatic cultural conservative.

Tragically, McCain’s transformation comes at a terrible time for the country. In this time of crisis, more than ever, we need rational centrists that can look past the narrow political interests of party and work together to find common sense solutions to our problems.

Put more succinctly, we need Mavericks.

Does anyone know where we can find one?

Glenn Beck: The Puppetmaster

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

This is brilliant.

Check this out first.

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Then this.

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Jon Stewart on Sherrod

Saturday, July 31st, 2010
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Ya gotta laugh. Otherwise you’ll cry.

“Obama’s Katrina”

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

I keep flashing back to this John Stewart piece about how conservatives are always looking for the perfect analogy between something that goes wrong in the Obama Administration and something Bush screwed up.

“It’s like no matter what happens during the Obama Administration, there’s the perfect Bush fuckup” for conservatives to compare it to.

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When it’s so painful to watch, you have to laugh every once in a while.