Friday, August 07, 2015

Adios, Jon Stewart

I'm going to miss Jon Stewart. That final speech (NSFW version) was a valedictory to carry on the torch of enlightenment, something those of us in Blogtopia (© Skippy) must keep burning. We will never be the concentrated force for all that is good and right in the world that he was (and still might be) but for sure, we can in our own ways make a difference.

It's been a tough twelve months for those of us on the left who take great pleasure in ignoring the false narrative of the corporate conservative mainstream media like FOX, and CNN, CBS, et al. We've lost Colbert. We've lost Stewart. We lost Letterman, even if he was light on politics.

And we're losing MSNBC to a madman who somehow believes imitating a network with a dying audience is going to improve his ratings.

Short term? Maybe, but long term, you want us liberals -- no, you NEED us liberals.

Thank god for Larry Wilmore, Bill Maher & John Oliver,  Free Speech TV and LinkTV (both of which stream for free on your computer. Thom Hartman, Amy Goodman, Stephanie Miller, Bill Press...that's a really great line up of progressive voices, beacons in the wilderness all).

And there are rumors...

Back to Stewart. I first noticed The Daily Show when Craig Kilborn was the host. In fact, if you search the outtakes of his tenure there, you'll find my shining face being interviewed by him (ended up in the dining bay, sadly, altho my daughter splashed across the screen).

I've been a fan ever since. I liked the idea of getting my news in an entertaining fashion. What I didn't expect, what I could not have expected, was to be informed as much as I have been. I will miss that. I will miss watching stories that the other "news" outlets had missed completely.

And Jon had his causes, and he worked hard to bring them to the forefront of the American conscience: the Zadroga Bill springs to mind, as does the VA hospital scandal. He was a liberal, but he held Democratic feet to the fire when it was appropriate (see: the VA hospital scandal). His sense of fair play never got in the way of a good story because his stories WERE about fair play.

And I think that's what I will miss most about Stewart: in a sea of bullshit, a cesspool of manufactured crises and FIRETRUCK! warnings, his show was a half hour (OK, eventually an hour, between Colbert and now Wilmore) where you could clamber onto terra firma and laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. "Restore Sanity," indeed!

This is the torch you and I and everyone else we read and comment with must pick up, dust off, and run to the finish line.

In a world where a blowhard egoist can lead presidential polling for one of the two major parties, we have to stand by, prepared to make fun of his pizza-eating habits and to deconstruct his personality, demolishing his ego and its defenses brick by prick. Why? Because it's just fucking insane.

In a world where there is an huge disconnect between morality and morals, we have to stand guard against the invasion of morals into morality -- that is, to ensure that rational thought is held in the highest regard over the emotional gut punch of fear and hatred. Comedy, laughter, can do that.

And in a world where it's way too easy to take yourself too importantly, there's Arby's.

Adios, Jon. You leave us, but you've not left us. Thanks for the laughs.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

The Best Photo You'll See All Day

Courtesy HuffPo

That's a lunar eclipse, from behind the moon.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Friday, June 19, 2015

Racism and White America

Racism is about power. It's about realizing that each of us in powerless in this great big world, and so we band together, and find some way to grab a little power for ourselves. Strength in numbers.

It's easier to find power if you've got people who are even more powerless than you are. That's where the racism comes in. That's where the bigotry and hate comes in, because at some level, we understand that, but for the grace of God, that could be me. And that terrifies us.

So rather than fight the power -- which would entail actually putting some skin (no pun intended) in the game and putting our necks on the chopping block -- rather than pick up a pitchfork or a torch and go storming the castle and grabbing power where it actually lies, we're content to snipe power where we can find it, even if it means hurting innocent people. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Party like it's 1992

In a hilarious, and profoundly obtuse, op-ed in Wednesday's The New York Times, Peter Wehner, a "senior fellow" at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, asks "Have Democrats Pulled Too Far Left?" And, as with most headlines that end in a question mark, the answer is No, they have not. What has moved to the left is the American people.

Wehner, who "served in the last three Republican administrations,” immediately shows just how out of touch he and the right are by comparing 1992 to 2015. He tries desperately to show that Barack Obama is so much further to the left of -- get this -- Bill Clinton. Alternatively, the GOP "hasn't moved very much from where it was during the Gingrich era in the mid-1990s"; as if that's a good thing.

For Wehner, this is a big problem for the Democrats because they lost BIG in the 2014 elections, which had the lowest voter turnout since WWII. He doesn't  mention that. He also doesn’t mention GOP gerrymandering, or gutted voter ID laws.

What he does mention are a lot of scary things —  if you haven't had a new idea since the 1990s.

"Mr. Obama is more liberal than Mr. Clinton was on gay rights, religious liberties, abortion rights, drug legalization, and climate change," explains Wehner, apparently not realizing that is a new millennium.

I can’t believe I have to explain this but, American thinking on every single one of those things have shifted.

He even claims that at one point that the nation is “more conservative today than it was in the mid-1990s.” This idea is inferred from  a “recent Pew poll’ (that I could not find) that says the country agrees with Republicans on foreign policy and taxes. On Taxes, here’s a Pew poll disagreeing with Wehner and the GOP.  

"[Obama] has focused far more attention on income inequality than did Mr. Clinton, who stressed opportunity and mobility," he continues, not caring that wages have stayed flat for the last 30 years, which include the 23 years he is comparing, siphoning wealth upwards. Way harsh, Tai.

For effect, the bitter, pointless screed goes on to name other lefties like Holder, Hillary, FDR, de Blasio, and Warren, and Ed Miliband for some reason.

But, if you listen to the folks that Wehner does not call out — any of GOP presidential candidates — they are all promoting the same slogan: "Still The Same After 25 Years.” That isn’t what the country wants and that’s why the Right is trying to fix things, one-person-one-vote at a time.