Posted on 26-09-2014
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

Cable news continues to be unwatchable.  At a time when we face an Ebola epidemic in Africa, the threat of ISIS in the Middle East, a do-nothing Congress that will do nothing till the mid terms are done (and then thanks to the Republicans precious little after that).  However, cable news was fixated by the faux scandal of the President stepping off a plane with a coffee cup in his hand.  It gave the usual suspects an opportunity to vent their outrage on Barack Obama.  It also gave Jon Stewart the opportunity for an epic rant.  Video below:

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Posted on 05-09-2013
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

Jon Stewart returned from his sabbatical and gave his unique take on Syria.  Helps that I agree with him, but his take on the discredited neo-con warmongerers starting around 4:20 was hilarious.  Enjoy the clip below:

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Posted on 08-05-2013
Filed Under (Economics) by Rashtrakut

Jon Stewart yesterday tackled the mortgage lenders who created the mortgage clusterfuck.  They took an archaic but effective system where mortgages were recorded on paper with local county recorders of deed and came up with their own private online mechanism – MERS.  There was no paper trail, the laws of mortgage assignment were not followed (good luck if you as a debtor who did the same) and they ended up with a situation where the people foreclosing on mortgages cannot prove they have the right to do so.  Video below:

None of these assholes have gone to jail and the fines that the feckless regulators have assessed are a drop in the bucket for the amount of money they made.  And having demonstrated the perils of unregulated banking and derivatives trading these pricks have been whining at the limited regulations that have been implemented since then.  The people in charge of MERS may have been merely incompetent.  But other cases of fraud like manipulating the LIBOR rate have seen almost no individuals go to jail.  That is a real scandal. Preet Bharara where are you?

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Posted on 15-10-2012
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

Jon Stewart unearthed a 1936 clip of FDR that almost seems prophetic.  The Ryan/Romney ticket will not present its math on how they magically balance the budget.  Romney has embraced Ryan’s plan to voucherize medicare and keep costs down by artificially limiting the growth of the vouchers below the expected rise in medical expenses i.e. by not paying the medical bills.  Ryan as a Rand disciple has previously expressed hostility to the premise of Social Security & Medicare.  Heck, in last week’s debate he expressed support to privatize it.  Wouldn’t that have been dandy in 2008?  So basically we are asked to trust a ticket hostile to America’s social contract that they will do it better with no details.  Yeah right!!!  Video below:

 

 

 

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Posted on 21-12-2010
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

Continuing on a theme of giving credit where it is due we come to Jon Stewart.  After the Republicans filibustered a bill to provide health benefits to 9/11 first responders because of cost (while gifting a far larger giveaway to millionaires) , Stewart responded with a take down of the GOP and the media that some have termed operatic.  The targets were some of his usual foils – the news networks who responded to yet another filibuster with silence, Fox “News” whose 9/11 outrage machine seems to have taken an early vacation and the GOP.  Videos below:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Worst Responders
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog</a> The Daily Show on Facebook

The second video is much more sober.  Stewart sits down with some 9/11 responders needing help to pay for their bills while taking some shots at John Kyl for asserting that working on Christmas was somehow sacrilegious and Mitch McConnell’s teary farewell to Judd Gregg.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
9/11 First Responders React to the Senate Filibuster
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog</a> The Daily Show on Facebook

The third video is an interview with former Arkansas Governor and presidential candidate (also a Fox “News” host) Mike Huckabee who urges Republicans to vote for the bill.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Mike Huckabee
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog</a> The Daily Show on Facebook

Stewart’s rage from the bully pulpit seems to have woken up the media and shamed some Republicans.  Below is an unusual video of a Fox anchor breaking the party line and calling out Republicans for their obstruction (other Fox personalities generally blame Congress and not Republicans in the Senate) – well maybe not that unusual since it is one of their rare fair and balanced journalists Shep Smith.

Yet the grinches are still around.  Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn objects to funding the bill by closing a tax loophole and is seeking further review on a bill that has been floating around Congress for most of the year.  He has vowed to block the bill adding to conservative unease on the wisdom of continuing to block the bill.  It also hands Democrats a political softball epitomized by their new video below:

It begs the question whether all this public shaming is sufficient to force Senate Republicans to act rather than merely provide their usual vocal support for 9/11 first responders.

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Posted on 20-12-2010
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

I am not a fan of Joe Lieberman. I had hoped for him to get his just deserts after the 2008 election.  Even though the Democrats at Barack Obama’s urging chose to forgive and forget, he responded by being a giant pain in the ass during the health care reform debate.  But to give credit where it is due, he was a driving force in helping Barack Obama achieve yet another campaign promise this past week – the legislative repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  While my ultimate desire to see his departure from the Senate in 2012 has not diminished, I will have some charitable thoughts for Joe Lieberman this holiday season.

Lieberman’s usefulness the past couple of weeks also vindicates Barack Obama’s magnanimity towards his former foes, which at times has caused some heartburn among his supporters.  The conversion of Hillary Clinton from bitter rival to valuable ally and cabinet member is another example of this.  Unfortunately, the attempts at détente do not appear to have worked on John McCain who seems determined to cement his reputation as a bitter loser.  McCain’s full flop during the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell debate drew widespread derision from the left and some fine Jon Stewart treatment (which includes a hat tip to Lieberman).  Video below:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Gaypocalypse Now
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog</a> The Daily Show on Facebook

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Posted on 02-11-2010
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

This is stupid even with the low standards of Fox.  President Obama makes an innocuous comment that Republicans drove the car into the ditch and and must now take aback seat while the Democrats fix their mess.  Fox anchors then somehow morph themselves into Rosa Parks.  It is low hanging fruit for Jon Stewart.  Video below with bonus digs at Republican obstructionism, Democratic party denial and nice take down of Bill Clinton:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2010 – Republicans Can Go to the Back of the Car
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity

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Posted on 31-10-2010
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

Jon Stewart closed out his rally Saturday with a impassioned speech (video below) on why America needs to work together.  The speech took some digs at the role of cable TV in fueling the polarization (Read this article for how MSNBC and CNN have tried to catch up with Fox in a race to the bottom).

Unfortunately with the Republican Party measuring the drapes, signalling that it will continue its plan of non-cooperation and that its top priority is making Obama a one term President (an understandable impulse politically but also not surprising for a party bereft of fresh ideas), the plea is doomed.  It takes two to tango.

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Posted on 28-10-2010
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

Barack Obama appeared on Jon Stewart yesterday.  While he faced a supportive audience and a non-hostile host, he still had to defend his administration on some pointed questions ranging from his alleged timidity, the failure to meet overblown expectations and to change the tone of Washington.  Obama was serious but held his own.  While he disputed some of the assertions above he acknowledged his failures on other fronts.  Full video is here.

On the same day he also sat down with a bunch of progressive bloggers (full transcript here) and faced far more pointed questions – notably on the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.

I wonder how far Obama’s willingness to compromise will hold up in the face of a Republican leadership (already measuring the drapes) that has indicated that it will not compromise.  The level of brinkmanship likely from the Republicans in the next Congress will make Gingrich’s tantrums in 1995 look like child’s play.  I hope Obama’s self proclaimed stubbornness manifests itself in defending his policies.

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Posted on 08-10-2010
Filed Under (Economics) by Rashtrakut

With Bank of America now suspending home foreclosures in all 50 states, Ann Lowery identifies the winners and losers in this fiasco.  The scale of the incompetence will keep the housing market down and delay the recovery from the great recession.  In the midst of this someone tried to slip through a bill that could have given the banks a get out of jail free card, until the President refused to sign it.  To complete the picture of a legal free for all are the stories of banks trying to change the locks on properties before the foreclosure process is completed and sometimes when the resident is still in the house.  This mess is not over yet.  To complete the mood of frustration at this mess is the dark humor from Jon Stewart below:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Foreclosure Crisis
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity

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Posted on 21-04-2010
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

Jon Stewart must love having Fox “News” and its laughably inappropriate slogan “Fair and Balanced” as a reliable foil.

He touched a nerve with this clip about the tea party movement acknowledging the points of various Fox contributors about the evils of sweeping generalization.  Of course this being Fox, he was able to show the same hosts making sweeping generalizations about the evil liberal elites.  That portion of the clip starts at the 5:11 mark.  It ends with Stewart telling the Fox blowhards to “Go F–k Yourselves.”

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Tea America
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

So Bill O’Reilly brings back Bernie Goldberg to ask him if this was true, even though the clips of O’Reilly’s and Hannity’s shows speak for themselves.  Goldberg surprisingly fessed up but then tried to rationalize his broad generalization and took pot shots at Stewart.  This of course is grand material for the comedian to respond with some lines breaking down Goldberg’s attacks by questioning why Stewart on Comedy Central is being held to Fox New’s misleading “fair and balanced” logo, further pointing out:

“Comedians do social commentary through comedy. That’s how it’s worked for thousands of years. I have not moved out of the comedian’s box into the news box. The news box is moving towards me.”
explaining why he constantly critiques Fox:
“I know that I criticize you and Fox News a lot, but only because you’re truly a terrible, cynical, disingenuous news organization.”
before terming them the network as the  ”Lupus of News” and closing out with a gospel choir rendition of  his “go f*ck yourselves” message.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Bernie Goldberg Fires Back
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Fox should probably take to heart the old quote “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it” before taking on Stewart again.  It does not help that Goldberg essentially admitted the validity of Stewart’s critique before launching petulant attacks (note he never said that Frank Rich made the broad generalizations on Stewart’s show with no challenge, but merely that Rich made generalizations).  This is a few months after he caught Sean Hannity’s show splicing footage from a previous rally to build up the number of the later rally in Washington.  As the gospel choir number shows, Stewart’s role as a comedian gives him far more latitude to respond than O’Reilly’s usual bluster when Fox “News” is called out for making stuff up.

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Posted on 06-04-2010
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

Hamid Karzai is the gift that gives on giving.  The latest by Afghanistan’s venal leader was a burst of peevishness at members of his parliament for having the temerity to block his takeover of the Afghan electoral commission.  See link.  Karzai declared that any more pressure on him would make him join the Taliban.  I encourage him to make the jump, though expect that he will receive the Najibullah treatment in short order if he makes such a move.  Now it is understandable that Karzai is looking for room to maneuver as the United States prepares to leave.  See link.  But by repeatedly criticizing the United States and NATO troops attempting to secure Afghanistan as occupiers he makes the task of pacification that much harder.

Others have noted that Karzai seems to be banking on the fact of his supposed indispensability and perhaps Washington has long memories of the South Vietnam quagmire after it acquiesed in the removal of President Ngo Dinh Diem.  See link.  If so, I think it is a mistake.  It is a mystery of why this venal incompetent with no political base to speak of became indispensable.  Part of the Karzai appeal stems from his being one of the few Pashtun leaders acceptable to other Afghan ethnicities.  But the election fraud last year has dimmed that appeal in the non-Pashtun regions.  His government’s corruption has similarly sapped reservoirs of goodwill in the Pashtun heartland (not helped by the nefarious dealings of his brother Ahmad Wali Karzai).  The supposed indispensability largely stems from a fear of the unknown, something previous Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf exploited to the hilt.

Yet after Musharraf’s departure Pakistan has finally moved against its Taliban proxies and its feeble civil institutions are showing signs of life.  And yet for years Washington and its allies and neighboring India put up with Musharraf’s double dealing because of the fear of what would happen if the urbane English speaking dictator left.  Pakistan may yet fall apart but fears of its imminent cataclysmic collapse appear overstated.  The same appears true in Afghanistan.  The west needs a competent reliable ally in Kabul and it is increasingly clear that the urbane English speaking Karzai is simply not that man.  His presence in power is likely to result in the waste of American blood spilled during the ongoing surge.

Karzai’s departure obviously will not be a panacea to Afghanistan’s ills.  Yet at this point it is increasingly hard to see how it will be worse.  I will close with a couple of clips from yesterday night’s Jon Stewart.

The first is a tongue in cheek look at Karzai’s latest blathering and the consequence of Karzai’s departure.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Turncloak
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Health Care Reform

The second is a more serious discussion with Reza Aslan on why and whether America should remain in Afghanistan.  While I understand Aslan’s point about the moral commitment made by the United States and the squandered opportunity, the reality is that the presence of foreign troops is increasingly unpopular and it is not clear that America will ever be able to put Humpty Dumpty together again.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Reza Aslan
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Health Care Reform

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Posted on 31-03-2010
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

The news media and liberal blogs have eagerly lapped up the story of the Republican National Committee wooing donors at a “bondage themed nightclub” where topless dancers imitate lesbian sex.  See link.  Even though he was not present, it epitomizes the careless way Steele runs the RNC and his inability to control or monitor spending.  The story was broken by the right wing blog The Daily Caller which also highlighted Steele’s expensive habits.  See link.  Fed up donors are now pushing funds away from the RNC to other outlets.  See link.

The gaffe prone Steele was not what the Republican Party wanted when they tried to project an image of diversity by making him the head of the RNC.  And yet in the short run they are stuck with him for the near future.  See link.  Logistically it will be very hard to force him out and the optics of a diversity challenged party dumping its most prominent minority just before an election would be terrible.  It does not help that Steele is on record saying that white Republicans are scared of him.  See link.  But it is hard to see Republicans putting up with the constant drumbeat of embarrassment emanating from Steele all the way till 2012.  I think the clock has begun to tick on Steele’s leadership of the RNC and it will not be surprising to see him eased out next year.  Whether he goes quietly is another question.  Quiet does not seem to be in his DNA.

It is also another example of the risk of a political party sanctimoniously prosing on about morality.  Once again it brings to mind the paraphrased (the original quote is in Hamlet Act III, Sc. II) Shakespeare quote “Methinks thou dost protest too loudly.”  For example there have been a number of vocally homophobic right wing legislators outed for being gay lately.  For one of the latest see here.  It would be far better if politicians focused on doing their job honestly and stopped using personal morality as a political football.

Meanwhile, the latest RNC scandal was low hanging fruit for Jon Stewart to pick off and he has done so with glee.  Given the subject matter the sketch is a little more risque than usual.  Enjoy…

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
2 Girls 1 GOP
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Health Care Reform

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Posted on 19-01-2010
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

There will be enough postmortems about the Coakley loss in Massachusetts.  Wonder how many of them will actually bother to mention that Massachusetts voters had the least cause to be upset about Obamacare, since they passed Romneycare in 2006 which is pretty much the same thing and they are perfectly happy with it.  It is a distinction that Senator-elect Brown (who helped craft Romneycare) has twisted himself into knots about in trying to clarify why he conceptually opposes extending what his state has (and it is a benefit he explicitly supports) to the national level.  See link.   While this hypocrisy has been highlighted often enough on various blogs, the inept Coakley campaign failed to properly utilize this manna from heaven.

Andrew Sullivan’s rant (link here) on the subject captures my feelings on Republican nihilism and the newly found advocates of fiscal prudence who are unwilling to implement it in a meaningful way and is quoted in full below:

Since so much of the energy behind the Brown candidacy seems to be driven by anti-government sentiment, why is someone like me – who actually criticized Bush for being big government long before these late-comers – so dismayed?

Here’s why. The rage is adolescent. It did not exist when the Republicans were in power and exploded government during years of economic growth. Fox News backed Bush to the hilt through it all, as he added mounds of unfunded entitlements to the next generation’s debt, and then brought Beck in as soon as Obama inherited the mess. Scott Brown, moreover, has no plans to cut the debt or control government: none. He is running in defense of every cent in Medicare. He wants to increase the deficit by more tax cuts. He favors an all-powerful executive branch that can suspend habeas corpus and torture people. He has no intention of cutting defense. His position on the uninsured is: get your own states to help. His position on soaring healthcare costs is: stop the first attempt to control them.

We hear Karl Rove lamenting big government! We hear Dick Cheney worrying about deficits! The cynicism here is gob-smacking. And the libertarian right is just happy to go along.

There is, moreover, the incredible lie that somehow all the debt that lies ahead was created by Obama in twelve months, in a recession, when austerity would be fatal. This was a lie propagated mercilessly by the FNC/RNC and by partisan bloggers like Glenn Reynolds. And it has stuck, as Obama has pressed for centrist reform between the screamers on the left and the haters on the right.

I’m sorry but this is not an anti-government vote. It’s a hissy fit because reality has finally hit and the conservative bromides of the 1980s work as poorly as the liberal bromides of the 1970s. If Brown were urging big, structural cuts in entitlements, if he were proposing junking health insurance reform because he has a plan to balance the budget in five years, if he were pledging to vote against the wars for the deficit’s sake, if he were proposing ways to restrain private healthcare costs and Medicare’s GOP-passed Medicare D – whose fiscal impact makes the current reform look like a tightwad’s – it would be one thing. But he isn’t and they aren’t.

They merely want to kill a reform presidency. They have no alternative. They have no policy that could restrain health insurance costs and the desperate plight of the uninsured. They have no plans for tackling climate change, when they can bring themselves to admit it exists. They have no plans to win or end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that Obama himself isn’t trying. They have no idea how to balance the budget – except more tax cuts!

 

There is the no substance (other than tax cuts in all scenarios) in the strategy that is supposed to revive the Republican party.    The intellectual dishonesty and the willful blindness of their recent record is also breathtaking.  Sometimes a country does deserve the people it elects.  But in the meantime blue-dog Democrats led by Evan Bayh are already preparing to run for the hills.

One question has always puzzled me.  If the blue dogs are so intent on being Republican-lite (Bayh, Blanche Lincoln, Mary Landrieu, etc. and the ever present narcissist Joe Liberman) how does it really help them against a charge that their state might as well elect the real thing.  There is a line between sensible moderation to reflect the values of your base and craven surrender at the first hint of Republican opposition, which the blue-dogs specialize in lately.  While the Democrats should not start weeding out moderates, it is past time for them to take a stand, grow a pair and identify what values are worth fighting (and if it comes to it, risking losing elections) for.  Otherwise they will by default return to their rudderless existence under George W. Bush, with a profoundly dispirited base.  It is also time for them to aggressively challenge the alternative set of facts that the Republicans have been peddling since inauguration, instead of relying on the media (which is wedded to the idea of balance for its own sake with no fact checking).

I will close with a clip by Jon Stewart a couple of days back, whose monologue directed at the Democrats at the end of the clip is very much on point.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Mass Backwards
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Crisis

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Posted on 08-01-2010
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

Britt Hume reacted to criticism for his pompous proselytizing on Fox News (see previous blog post here) by playing the victim card and making the tiresome accusation that this is part of the war against Christianity.  Most of this stems from a grouse that the law and the Constitution require equal treatment of Christianity with other faiths (Oh the horror!!!) with little grounding in fact.  Ask Congressman Keith Ellson who was savaged by parts of the right for having the temerity to take his oath of office on the book of his faith – the Quran.

I will outsource the  further exposure of Britt Hume’s ridiculousness to the satirist most often linked on this blog:

From January 4, 2010:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
The Best F**king News Team Ever – Tiger Woods’ Faith
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Crisis

Follow up from From January 5, 2010:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
The Temple of Hume
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Crisis

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Posted on 05-01-2010
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

Jon Stewart starts  off the year strong with a wonderful skewering of the performance of the intelligence agencies and the predictable chest thumping partisan response from Republicans (clip at end of post).

The Republican response has been particularly distressing: from banging the war drums to enter the Yemeni quagmire, repeating calls to bring back torture and attacking the rule of law by trying to push what will be an open and shut case into military tribunals (somehow the court system worked just fine for the shoe bomber Richard Reid).  All of this is a part of a strategy to play the Democrats are weak on terror card with little attention to whether any of this posturing actually works or makes America safer.  The father of the underpants bomber was calling the United States to turn his kid in.  Would this happen if the United States followed Pat Buchanan’s barbaric call to deny medical aid or the calls to torture him for information he probably does not have?  The right still does not understand just how potent a recruiting tool Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib were for Al Qaeda.  And so far nobody has pointed to any useful information the willful law breaking produced that was not being obtained from other legal sources.  It also appears that some of the torture occurred because the prisoners were not giving the answers Dick Cheney and his acolytes wanted to hear.

This blinkered world-view ignores just how much Al Qaeda’s nihilistic philosophy and willingness to shed Muslim blood have cost them support in the Arab world.  Pakistan (while not Arab) is a good example of this.  While Pakistanis remain deeply in denial about the origins of extremism in their country, the vicious attacks on civilians have turned public opinion against these thugs.  An overreaction of the sort counseled by George Bush’s homeland security advisor Frances Fargos Townsend vaguely threatening an invasion of Yemen would be just what Al Qaeda wants.  Have the United States invade yet another Muslim country (in the Arab peninsula no less) that would make it easier for them to claim that the United States is an enemy of Islam.

Then there is the call to engage in racist profiling.  As George Bush’s CIA Director and Homeland Security Secretary note how profiling can be easily sidestepped.  After all the underpants bomber as a Nigerian would not have shown up on typical terrorist profiles.

It is understandable to tighten up security procedures to prevent attacks.  But the ugly reality is that it is impossible to prevent all attacks from a group that probably numbers about a 1,000 people world wide.  If fear of Al Qaeda starts a downward slide to a police state, Al Qaeda will have won.  Using a hammer to swat a fly will leave a gaping hole in the fabric of the idea and values of America.  This long piece from the New York Times is a good read on how the administration struggles to find a balance between the values and the security while avoiding the pointless and probably harmful chest thumping that Dick Cheney would like.

Meanwhile the people calling for draconian police action continue to compare health care reform to tyranny and a Republican Congressional candidate in Minnesota says defeating liberals is a bigger battle than defeating terrorism.  The mind reels.

Enjoy the clip.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Terror 2.0 by Yemen
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Crisis

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Posted on 17-12-2009
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

Our beloved tea-baggers (aka Republicans, Fox News Anchors and other mostly white folk still upset about the result of the 2008 elections) had another gathering in Washington to protest the horrors that would happen if health care access was expanded to people who do not have it (even with this flawed bill) and to make yet another brilliant comparison on how health care equates to the holocaust.  I must have missed all the midnight round-ups that seem to occur in the rest of the Western World that has universal health care.  And these are the same patriots fighting tyranny who remained silent when the previous administration asserted a right to detain American citizens indefinitely without trial, to wiretap phones without warrants and claimed that they could choose what laws and constitutional provisions they wanted to follow.  My rant done, I will let Jon Stewart continue his usual brilliant skewering of the hyperbolic nonsense that has enthralled the Republican base.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Highway to Health – Last Tea Party Protest of the Year
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
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Political Humor Health Care Crisis

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In the last decade it has become fashionable for politicians to disclaim any academic knowledge or broader understanding of the world beyond to assure voters that they are just like them.  It came to the forefront in 2000 when two silver spoon ivy league graduates with mediocre college grades faced off for the presidency.  The difference was that one almost reveled in his ignorance and the other over the years had developed a wonkish reputation on the environment and technology matters.  The pattern was repeated in 2004 when another silver spoon ivy leaguer challenged George W. Bush for the presidency and where his grasp of foreign languages was deemed a liability, Karl Rove infamously telling the media that John Kerry looked French.

In 2008 Barack Obama’s double ivy league education was used to classify him has an out of touch elitist.  All of this conveniently ignored the fact that unlike Messers Gore, Bush and Kerry (and for that matter even John McCain whose lineage of admirals likely eased his path into the naval academy over mediocre grades) Obama (like Bill Clinton before him) was a self made man (and for those crying affirmative action he did not disclose his race on his law school application).  And then came the Sarah Palin phenomenon where the Republican candidate for Vice President almost gloried in her ignorance of world affairs beyond the canned talking points.  (See previous blog post here).

Anti-intellectualism is not unknown in American history.  Adlai Stevenson was infamously dismissed as an egghead.  And book knowledge is also not a guarantee of good governance.  But taken too far it can have disturbing results where politicians cannot grasp the difference between faith and science (case in point the ridiculous attempts to term creationism as science).  It is also disturbing in a country that desperately needs to maintain its technological edge but has had to import its scientists for many decades.

This matter came to mind when I watched the Jon Stewart clip below yesterday.  It is bad enough that Fox seems to insist that its women anchors wear skirts with high hemlines, possibly to distract the audience from the factual liberties that happen there by “accident” from time to time.  But having a host (in Stewart’s words) “dumb herself down to connect with an audience who sees intellect as an elitist flaw” (or perhaps to connect with the dim-bulbs who are her co-hosts) seems a bit much.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Gretchen Carlson Dumbs Down
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Posted on 04-12-2009
Filed Under (Religion) by Rashtrakut

Previous post here.  Now Jon Stewart’s turn to engage in mockery with an amusing sequence at the end regarding Swiss neutrality.

UPDATE: Particularly amusing is the portion when Oliver raises the issue of Nazi gold to be met with stony silence.  The ambassador is a good sport though on the litmus test.  Meanwhile a Swiss politician puts his foot in his mouth raising the hackles of the Jewish community as well.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Oliver’s Travels – Switzerland
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Posted on 03-12-2009
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut
  • Obama donors are feeling left out as they lose some of the traditional access perks of fund raisers.  Fits with a populist theme of the campaign, but am not sure why giving freebies to donors that soothe their ego as opposed to rewriting legislation to suit their needs is all that bad.  A string of unhappy donors could bite the Obama campaign fund raising machine in the butt in 2012.
  • Yglesias highlights the continuing struggles and hypocrisy of main stream media in dealing with Internet based rivals. It is bad enough that Rupert Murdoch whines that Google and blogs like this one (well maybe not this one) who link to his sites are parasites, but now they complain when the sites do the actual journalistic legwork.  While complaining about the websites being ideologically slanted, the same main stream media rallied around Fox as a legitimate news operation.  This Jon Stewart video link in a  previous blog post is worth watching.
  • Daniel Gross thinks the markets overreacted to the Dubai debt crisis last week.  Maybe someone can recommend an expert from the Chicago school to explain to him how our efficient markets are composed of rational actors instead of a bunch of traumatized lemmings.
  • China tries to rescue the story of Mulan from the Disney interpretation.  Must be galling to see the “definitive” interpretation of a historic/legendary icon be a foreign version with the Disney formula of communicative animals and a klutzy dragon. Reminds me of the controversy in India about Peter Brook’s version of the Mahābhārat.

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    Jon Stewart catches Sean Hannity using footage of another rally to make the Bachmann intimidation rally seem bigger.

    The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
    Sean Hannity Uses Glenn Beck’s Protest Footage
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    Of course this is not the first time Stewart has had fun at the expense of Fox News. See here.  This is also not the first time Fox has spliced video feeds, though they did apologize in that instance.

    To be fair to the employees of Fox News, not everybody parrots the company line.  From earlier this summer watch as the Fox News anchor (who does not appear to be one of their opinion talking heads), desperately tries to bring Liz Trotta back on the liberal media bashing meme he was trying to create.  Instead she eviscerates Sarah Palin’s credentials and gets rapidly cut off as she mentions this Vanity Fair article.

    Then an honorable mention to Shepard Smith who does try to live up to the Fox news motto.

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    Posted on 30-10-2009
    Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

    Previously posted on the administration calling out Fox.  Its been amazing to see the mainstream media rally to Fox’s defense and pretend that what the Obama administration is doing something new…except that the Bush administration did the same thing to MSNBC this last year.  But the reason for this post is the absolutely brilliant, must see video from Jon Stewart skewering Fox.  Enjoy!

    The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
    For Fox Sake!
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