Tag Archives: Jon Stewart

The Bill O’Reilly/Jon Stewart Debate

So, today was another debate (quasi-political, quasi-comedic) that I managed to miss. I very nearly missed it because I had forgotten about it. It was on the internet, viewable with a donation of $4.95 to charity, at TheRumble2012.com. But I saw people talking about it on Twitter, so I remembered and went to watch it. Which means that the actual reason I missed it is because the servers were apparently all down nearly the entire time. I didn’t even bother trying to watch it after all the Twitter complaints and my one attempt that led to a “This page ain’t loading” page.

Fortunately, I did manage to find some live updates for this “Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium.” For those unaware of what that is, it was a debate, moderated by CNN anchor ED Hill, between liberal host of “The Daily Show” Jon Stewart and conservative host of “The O’Reilly Factor” Bill O’Reilly. Huffington Post fortunately had a live update of the debate going, though it’s obviously not even close to actually watching the thing. Hopefully, the internet will eventually pull through and either post a free version, or a taped version you can still pay the $4.95 to watch.

Anyway, there were a few things I wanted to say about the debate. If my readings of the updates are right, Stewart probably “won” the debate because it seems like O’Reilly was randomly not taking things seriously at strange points and by doing strange things. Granted, it was supposed to be humorous as well, but… Apparently he started talking in an odd Southern-esque accent at one point? No idea why.

But, being that I’m a liberal, you’d probably figure I’d side with the diminutive Jewish funny guy anyway. Fine. Still, there were some rather interesting points raised throughout the debate. For example:

On defunding PBS and NPR, as Mitt Romney wants to do, what’s the point? O’Reilly… didn’t really seem to have anything but complaints. “Why should I be paying for this stuff? It’s gross! I don’t like it!” Not that he said any of that, but it comes off as that type of tone. Stewart’s reply, asking for a refund of the $800 billion used to fund the Iraq War, points out a pretty good secondary argument over this question of defunding these programs. First is the argument that defunding these programs is like trying to kiss better a lopped off limb. Ultimately, it’s a rather worthless gesture. But secondly is, if you want to defund things because you disagree with them, then the government is going to have to take back the money for a whole mess of things.

On entitlements, Stewart has actually brought up this point before on his show in one of his more serious, poignant and pointed moments. As Stewart said in the debate, “Why is it that if you take advantage of a corporate tax break you’re a smart businessman, but if you take advantage of something so you don’t go hungry, you’re a moocher?” There has been, as I’ve talked about before, a strange and unfortunate trend to paint those that need government help to stay on their feet, however permanent or temporary, as somehow less deserving of American life than people that survive without any help from the government, outside of tax breaks and roads and education and so on. Specifically, people that ever take welfare or use food stamps are deemed as lesser beings. It’s stupid and demeans all their potential eventual success.

But my favorite little nugget of the night, besides O’Reilly admitting America shouldn’t have gone to Iraq, is something Stewart said that I’d never really thought of. He suggested, via a single-payer system as it’s the only way he thinks it would work, that health care should be removed from work.

That’s a point I’d never really thought about. And, frankly, it should. People that dislike Obamacare gripe all the time about how it eliminates choice and destroys a person’s ability to choose their own health care. Well, even if that were true, unless you’ve got a good amount of money set aside for health care and, y’know, don’t have a big family, you don’t have much of a choice. You get the health care your job offers, or you don’t get anything. And if you don’t have a job or don’t have a job that offers you health care (like me, as I’m not hired on for enough hours to apply for health care through my job), then you’re just screwed. You don’t get health care. Unless you’re independently wealthy. It would be much nicer if health care were more readily available to the unemployed and the part-time workers that are strewn throughout the country.

Based on what I read, this debate was likely far more entertaining and exciting than the first presidential debate, sadly. But I’ve said my piece on that a couple times now. Hopefully, I’ll manage to catch the next presidential debate… and, looking for the schedule, I’ve discovered that the next debate will be the vice presidential debate on foreign and domestic policy on Oct. 11, starting at 9 p.m. Eastern Time. Then will be a town meeting style debate on foreign and domestic policy on Oct. 16, starting at 9 p.m. Eastern Time, which in theory will be where Barack Obama can shine. And the final debate, in the style of the first debate, will be on foreign policy on Oct. 22, starting at 9 p.m. Eastern Time. That one could be anyone’s game.

Anyway, here’s hoping I can actually watch these debates as they happen next time.

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The Daily Show’s Best Clip Yet

So, as promised, a post not (completely) about me being sick! Which I still am. I think it’s getting better. Eating my Mexican jambalaya earlier might not have helped things, but pain seems to have abated quite a bit. And it was really tasty. Now I just wish my neck weren’t so sore.

ANYWAY.

As I mentioned Tuesday in my only other not-about-being-sick post, Mitt Romney made a really massive gaffe wherein he basically says anyone that doesn’t pay federal income tax is irresponsible and dependent on the government to function, asking for things like food and healthcare and shelter. I ended up talking more about what I thought was his more-damning-to-his-so-called-experience statement, the immediate flip-flop on him knowing how the markets work. The big takeaway for everyone, however, has been the 47 percent comment. Because that segregates the nation. Bad idea for Romney.

I would love to talk more about the 47 percent comment and the problems I have with a lot of the ideologies behind it, and behind the people supporting it, but for today, I have a better idea.

I’ll let Jon Stewart do it.

In “The Daily Show”s segment “Chaos on Bulls**t Mountain,” Stewart hammers Romney, Romney apologetics (i.e., Fox News) and the Republican, neo-conservative ideologies that give rise to the sort of idea that people on welfare are useless, unworthy wastes of space in America. I would love to expound on this more, really, but that will have to wait for another day.

Honestly, though, that clip is one of Stewart’s best. Ever. President Barack Obama could just play that, add the tag “I approve this message” and get votes, I think. It’s not necessarily the funniest clip, but it’s one of the most powerful and condemning.

Oh, and as a bonus, here’s a really good SNL clip from a special Thursday edition of SNL’s “Weekend Update.” They also target the 47 percent comment, and make fun of “Fox and Friends.” Easy pickings, but still a lot of fun.

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The Honesty Gaffe

This political season has been rife with those wonderful things we call gaffes. Gaffes are errors in speech that tend to cause political negativity. Some gaffes can be utterly ruinous, like Howard Dean’s “Byaaaah!” Some gaffes don’t seem to make sense as gaffes, like Howard Dean’s “Byaaaah!” Some gaffes come from ignorance and misinformation, like Michele Bachmann’s claim that HPV vaccines caused mental retardation. Some gaffes are meant as harmless by the socially unaware person making the gaffe, like Mitt Romney’s $10k bet or his talking about how many cars he owns.

And then some gaffes are the truth.

These are, really, a subset of the gaffes that don’t seem to make sense as gaffes. These “gaffes” often come from a singular sentence taken grossly out of context due to that sentence by itself not being quite specific enough. The most recent case of this “gaffe” is President Barack Obama’s “You didn’t build that” speech.

While I can’t, for some reason, find the entirety of the speech at the moment, “The Daily Show” actually has a pretty good coverage of the speech, as well as the accusatory coverage and fallout from the speech.

Basically, for those unaware, in a speech about business and individual efforts in America and the like, Obama, in the middle, used the sentence “You didn’t build that.” Jon Stewart makes the argument that, clearly, Obama was referring to the roads and other infrastructure used to benefit businesses. I interpret it a little more broadly. To me, he was saying that business owners, large and small, have benefited from the entire American machine one way or another. Somehow, other people have helped. Teachers giving you the information, roads to drive on, loans to start your business, tax breaks, maybe a public library, use of the internet… It goes on and on. These days, so much infrastructure has been laid out that it is pretty much entirely impossible not to have a business that benefits from it in one way or another. Some ways are clearly far more directly benefited. Others are a bit more fringe. But the benefits are there nonetheless.

Opponents and critics of Obama, however, have been taking that singular sentence, “You didn’t build that,” to attempt to paint Obama as anti-business, particularly anti-small business. Their argument is that Obama is besmirching the great individuality and personal drive of American entrepreneurs by daring to suggest that they can’t pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. If those are even still a thing.

However, I would like to counter such arguments, as dishonest as they may be. To argue so vehemently against Obama’s speech is to besmirch and spit upon the American nation. It is to laugh at the ideas of unity, of working together to accomplish great things. It mocks the possibility of American greatness. Instead, they head for the ego, telling Americans they can all be part of the 1% if they try. Telling Americans that greatness is achievable for everyone, and apart from anyone else.

It laughs at the very idea of “these UNITED states.”

The GOP has worked very hard to make the government look like the big bad in this election. A tactic I don’t quite understand, as they’re hoping you’ll pick them to run the big bad, but it seems to work alright. The problem I have with this is, while the government can in fact be a big bad, they’re part of America. The government, like Soylent Green, is people. And if that spoiled anything for you, I refuse to apologize. The American people work in both the private and public sectors. Teachers, police, even government officials are just as important to the country as investors, business owners and the average minimum wage worker.

America is all of us. All of us work together. Can’t we just agree on that simple fact?

And, maybe, just maybe, can we just pick something honest to complain about? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: We need to stop the political deceit. If you want to complain about someone, pick their actual stances. Don’t make stuff up.

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Bain: The Bane Of Romney

First, let me be clear… Yes, “The Dark Knight Rises” comes out on Friday. Yes, the villain is the rather terrifying Bane, the man who broke Batman’s back. Or, if you don’t know anything about the comics and had the “pleasure” of watching “Batman & Robin,” the brain-dead overly muscular luchador/chauffeur for Poison Ivy. …I suggest you at least get some knowledge of the comics if that’s all you know of Bane.

My point is, unlike some people (yes, you, Rush Limbaugh, and even if you didn’t mention a conspiracy you definitely left the insinuation there, so stop trying to cover your tracks), I don’t believe there is any sort of dastardly connection between the villain of this film and Mitt Romney’s connections with Bain Capital. Especially since no one really even wanted Romney to get this far, as you may recall.

Okay. That now being out of the way, time to talk about the actual matter at hand.

Romney’s associations with Bain have become a huge problem for him. President Barack Obama’s campaign has hit him hard and heavy over this issue, especially after a report in The Boston Globe suggested Romney’s not-quite truthfulness concerning his involvement at Bain.

I don’t know if it’s all true. Is it possible Romney committed perjury? Sure. Is it possible he remained involved in Bain after he claims? Certainly. Is it possible he oversaw the creation of businesses in countries other than America? Definitely. But whether he did or did not doesn’t much matter. It’s how terribly he’s handling this entire thing that’s causing his nightmares.

First off, this “retroactive retirement” thing… That’s just… I don’t know what that’s supposed to be. I mean, you’re working at a place, you take a leave of absence, like being gone, so you say, “Hey. Instead of ‘leave of absence,’ let’s just say I retired back then, okay? But I’ll totally keep the money and the benefits I had during that time. Thanks.” That’s just… stupid and disingenuous. Not to mention, it really doesn’t make much sense. The New Yorker has a pretty decent humor article lambasting the entire procedure.

Second off, there’s this whole tax returns thing… Pretty much everyone that has tried to be president has released years and years of their tax returns. Lets Americans know what you’re doing with your money. Romney swears he’s got nothing to hide… but then proceeds to hide all but two years of tax returns. The two most recent ones. Y’know, during his actual presidential run.

…sigh. No, Romney, that doesn’t show people anything. That shows us that you only want people seeing what you’ve done with your money during the time you’re trying your best to look good.

I don’t know if he’s got something to hide, really. And I don’t much care. I’m not going to vote for the guy, if you haven’t caught onto that. The problem is that, unless you’ve shown yourself to be an utterly honest person, people won’t trust you when you say “I have nothing to hide” while you openly hide things. It arouses suspicions, makes people raise questions and the like.

So, with all of this, Bain is really weighing Romney down. Badly. The more he goes on about the entire issue, the less in control and trustworthy he seems.

Take, for example, this clip from “The Daily Show” wherein Jon Stewart meticulously breaks down the issue and lays out all the problems Bain and Romney’s responses are causing Romney. Meticulous in this case also means humorous. (I will argue that Bane is not the most frightening Batman villain… That’s totally Joker.)

Stewart raises some excellent points. Romney is attempting to distance himself from his finances and business creation, the two things he’s been counting on to put him ahead of Obama in the race. The clip of him in 1994 talking about how blind trusts are ruses is extremely damaging to his credibility as well… and then there’s Stewart’s last argument.

I really have to applaud “The Daily Show” for this bit. Somehow, it wasn’t even a connection I had made. Romney, and the GOP at large, have condemned the lower classes and their attempts at “class warfare,” asking the rich to give a little. They have scoffed at government programs and people being given things for free. They have declared the system broken.

Yet Romney, and so many other affluent people, use that system to dodge taxes. To retain and regain money that they should be paying to the government. The system IS broken, but they don’t offer to fix the parts that get them more money. Instead, the offer to correct the parts that help some people do things such as survive.

Until Romney comes clean with his finances and admits that the rich benefit disproportionately from a broken system, his clout will likely continue to dwindle rapidly. And he will ultimately fail.

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People (Especially Politicians) Need To Stop Saying Stupid Stuff

I napped most of the afternoon away… Unfortunate, because it means I’ll be awake all night… But I deserve some napping, I think. Probably do some more after this.

Anyway. Due to napping, it’s difficult for me to really think of anything deep or even remotely important to talk about. Especially since I’ve actually been spending a decent amount of my free time working on my play (both the one I’m writing and the one I’m acting in)… or watching “Psych.” But I love that show.

Anyway, there’s been this awkward trend for politicians this week. A trend of them saying really stupid things that, really, you would THINK they’d know better than to say.

Here’s some examples.

Here’s Michele Bachmann using the phrase “tar baby” to talk about President Barack Obama’s remarks on oil speculation. Now, maybe it’s because I’m from the South that I am more familiar with how terribly racist a phrase that is. But, even if that weren’t the case… why the hell did Bachmann use it? Seriously, what the hell does it mean in her mind if it’s not a racial thing? Who waves tar babies in the air? How is that a thing?

Here’s Mitt Romney deciding to heckle a beloved small business local bakery with some of his attempts at humor that, of course, always seem to come off as him just being a bit snobbish. Saying the cookies seem like they come from a local 7-11? How is that supposed to be funny? Not only does it seem snobbish, but it’s also kind of mean to say about a small business. You know, one of those things a presidential candidate should generally say he wants to protect. Jon Stewart may have originally given Romney the comedic edge over Obama before, but with this and his heckling NASCAR fans for their rain ponchos, I feel that’s something to be revisited. Romney’s humor seems to just be coming off as kind of mean. Not good in a presidential candidate.

Oh, here’s a favorite. West Virginia Republican Senatorial candidate John Raese decided to compare a cigarette ban to the Holocaust. Does no one seriously understand the whole stigma behind Adolf Hitler? At all? Remember how Bosephus got his Monday Night Football song canned? Hank Williams Jr. was just trying to point out how starkly opposite Obama and John Boehner are, politically speaking, but the mere mention of Hitler causes people to go slightly apoplectic. You just don’t compare people to Hitler, even if you’re not trying to call them evil. You don’t compare ANYTHING to Hitler in a public forum, ESPECIALLY if you’re a public figure. Everyone will tear you apart for it. Leave the Godwin’s Law stuff to the Internet comment sections and forums. Likely, you’ll get compared to Hitler for comparing other things to Hitler. It’s just stupid.

Of course, not all the people on this list are conservatives. We have Vice President Joe Biden recently making a really awkward analogy. This one isn’t quite in the same flavor as the others, and Biden is well known for being a gaffe machine. But, as opposed to Romney’s “I’m rich, suck it” gaffes, Biden’s come off more like a slightly tipsy uncle’s word vomit. This one, comparing controversial legislature passed by Obama to “legalizing rattlesnakes in the lobbies of hotels in Arizona” is… well, really confusing. It’s not a stupid thing to say the same way these others have been. It’s just… weird. What does it even mean? I mean, really?

There is, of course, the unfortunate phrasing of Hilary Rosen I could bring back up… Because I’ve been having trouble finding liberals saying silly things recently. Not that liberals don’t. They’re just as capable of foot-in-mouth as anyone. Just this week has been very conservative heavy.

Which reminds me of our good friend Geraldo Rivera. You’d think that, after his Trayvon Martin hoodie comments, he’d not, y’know, talk about hoodies and stereotypes again… but, of course, he did. And it’s pretty unfortunate, too, because if people do get upset at Rivera for this, they’ll likely ignore the first 99% of his conversation, which was surprisingly insightful and well thought out. But that’s what saying that one stupid thing tends to do: swallow anything important you had to say in a mucky mire of gunk.

Don’t politicians have people that are supposed to talk to them about avoiding these things? That’s what “The West Wing” seemed to teach me.

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Is There A Hypocrisy In The Rush To Hate Limbaugh?

I don’t know if you’re one of the many people that read my previous article talking about the wonderful Rush Limbaugh and his drive to win the Most Woman-Repellant Man of the Year for what’s likely the twentieth of fiftieth year year in a row. If you haven’t heard of the controversy, then I’m surprised the rock you live under can access this website. But, in brief, Limbaugh decided to call Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student who was barred from testifying in an all-male congressional hearing about birth control (but managed to later testify in a different hearing), both a slut and a prostitute. Since then, there has been a massive outcry against Limbaugh’s words. And he apologized and totally meant it, you guys. Especially once his advertisers started dropping like flies.

But some have pointed out that the severity to which people are reacting to Limbaugh is perhaps severe and hypocritical. Laura Ingraham has been perhaps one of the more vocal protesters of the hypocrisy, decrying Barbara Walters’ reaction on “The View” to Ed Schultz calling Ingraham a slut, as well as the lack of media outcry and backlash against Schultz. Kirsten Powers wrote a column for “The Daily Beast” and has been seen on Fox News talking about how the liberal men who pull the same sort of shenanigans seem to get away with it. She references Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher, Matt Taibbi and Schultz to make her point. And Megyn Kelly of Fox News apparently shared her own experiences with Maher and an uncaring feminism figure, Gloria Steinem.

So. Is there, in fact, a hypocrisy going on? Why is it that people are hitting Limbaugh so hard when the others seemed to squeeze by unnoticed? Most of this post will focus on the two cases I know best, Schultz and Maher, but I hope my points will be made clear. Because there are, perhaps, some differences between Limbaugh and the rest.

1) Limbaugh did not say one word. He said many. Whereas people like Schultz made the poor judgment of calling someone a slut on one occasion, Limbaugh called Fluke a whole host of things. And not once. Not even on only a single show. The man went on for three days. In those three days, he called Fluke a sex addict, a prostitute, a slut, sexually active in middle school, insinuated that Fluke’s friends were also all sluts, essentially called Georgetown a college full of promiscuous women and demanded that Fluke video tape her sexual activities and post them online for Limbaugh and other men to watch.

I’m sorry, but that last one is simply disgusting. This goes beyond insulting to revolting. Sure, someone may call you a slut, or a c—, and while that may be even unforgivably insulting, Limbaugh crossed that line merrily and took a dump on it when he did. If you go on a three day rant repeating yourself over and over again, you’ve got to apologize for more than just the usage of two specific words. But most don’t know that he went on a rant, because explaining what he DID do in a news article attempting to summarize the incident would take up at least a couple of pages in the newspaper. So, the media had to pick out the best, shortest examples. And those were “slut” and “prostitute.” But that isn’t by far all Limbaugh said.

2) Limbaugh is not even remotely repentant. Limbaugh apologized to Fluke, sure. On March 3. AFTER his 3 day rant, and AFTER his advertisers began their exodus. Isn’t there some saying about you don’t feel bad you did it, you just feel bad you got caught? Limbaugh shows all the classic signs of someone that doesn’t actually care what he said. I mean, if he did, you’d think he’d tread careful water about the things he said about women, right? But here we are, a week later, and Limbaugh is talking about “over-educated (not smart, mind you), young, single, white women getting things they don’t deserve.” So soon after being hit hard with talking trash about a woman, he decides to do it again. Albeit in slightly less inflammatory terms.

To put this in perspective, Schultz made an apology for his words to talk show host Ingraham. For a single, 12-second profanity, Schultz went to his bosses and asked to be removed from the air without pay, made a nine minute apology and swore to never use the language he used in the incident again. Nearly a year later, Schultz has kept that promise. He personally called Ingraham to apologize. His apology was immediate. His repentance was more than most would have done. Meanwhile, Limbaugh waited until money was being lost before writing an apology on his website and waiting for the media to find it and proliferate it. That is not the sign of a penitent man.

3) Limbaugh was factually incorrect. I’m not going to talk about the “slut” and “prostitute” claims here. Those were insulting descriptors that were bombastic in nature and not what I’m going to discuss. No, I want to talk about all the other bits Limbaugh said. He couldn’t even get Fluke’s name right half the time. He insinuated that birth control pills had to be used at the same rate condoms are supposed to be, once per go. He claimed the pills cost only $1000 a year when in actuality Fluke testified that they cost $3000 a year. And he tried to pin things on liberals who make insulting and shocking slanderous claims about people by saying you’d never hear one of them apologize. Well, as the above section hopefully showed, yes. Liberals can and have apologized before.

The reason I bring this up is because it underlines how bombastic Limbaugh is. Many liberal commentators that have been slammed for their moments of stupidity and loose tongues have been doing these things in moments of passion when reporting on some issue or another. Limbaugh, as he went on for three days and had a script in his hands, didn’t do this in a moment of passion. This was “researched.” I put it in quotations because it was clearly done only in the vaguest of fashions. Limbaugh clearly holds a massive disdain for proliferating facts amongst his audience. His entire purpose is to stretch the truth and make noise. Whereas all the examples of liberals doing similar things I’ve found have liberals making mistakes, Limbaugh’s was planned out specifically to rile people up.

4) This isn’t Limbaugh’s first time. Unfortunately (or perhaps not), I can’t get any readily available links to Limbaugh’s past statements of this fashion since the current boondoggle is taking up most of the internet. However, it doesn’t really take me having links to be able to confidently say that this is not Limbaugh’s first time saying something horrible. The man has made a career off of being rather repugnant and saying stupid, hateful things. In one of the examples I can remember, Limbaugh decided it was okay to call First Lady Michelle Obama “uppity” simply because of her attempts to help children be healthier. He completely ignored the respect due her and decided to attack her over something entirely meaningless.

And I’m certain that, if you went into the annals of the internet, you’d find Limbaugh doing this same thing over and over again. Some may wonder what makes this case so special, then. Well, I’d have to say it’s probably the fact that a) Fluke isn’t a public figure, b) Limbaugh went on for three whole days and c) Limbaugh was disgusting and repulsive even for him, which most were unaware was possible. Were this his first mistake, there’s a chance the fallout wouldn’t be so immensely huge. But people are so used to him being unapologetic in his hatred that when he surpasses himself, it becomes the final straw on the camel’s back.

5) Limbaugh is conservative. At this point, someone might say, “Wait a second, aren’t you just admitting now that there IS a hypocrisy?” Actually, yes and no. Allow me to first cover the no. When I bring up the fact that Limbaugh is considered a heavily (and heavy) representative voice of the conservative slant of the nation, I do so to point out why someone in that position might be held to a different standard. The conservatives of the nation, by and large, are associated with social conservatism and the Republican Party. That party, that conservatism, they represent something. They claim to represent a standard of morality. A standard of family values, of tradition. And that’s where the difference lies.

See, liberals, by and large, don’t claim to be “moralistic.” There are many liberals who do not believe in an objective morality. Liberals more often fight for things they feel are “right.” It isn’t a question of morals for them. It’s a question of right and wrong. The difference is fine, but key. For example, it may be immoral to abort a fetus, but it would be wrong to ban abortions. The morality and the right and wrong are not equated. But the Republican Party, the conservatives, they equate the two all the time. Homosexuality is immoral, therefore homosexual marriage is wrong. Abortions are immoral, therefore they’re wrong. Et cetera. They’ve set themselves up on a moral high ground, one that many of them have no business being on. And one of those people is, in fact, Limbaugh. And that’s one reason conservatives are more rapidly and more easily strung up for their failures: Because, by their own definitions, they should be.

Now, on to the “yes” part. Despite the hypocrisy inherent in Limbaugh’s aligned political ideologies and bombastic, slanderous statements, there is still a bit of hypocrisy coming from somewhere with regards to liberal commentators. Maher, being one of the few people willing to stand up for Limbaugh (something that he may possibly regret later), once called Sarah Palin a c—. I think you know the word I’m referencing there. And Olbermann has been seen as a bit of a misogynist himself, partly due to his comments on then-Senator Hillary Clinton during the 2008 campaign, comments for which he later apologized (See, Limbaugh?). I mean, I could point out conservative commentators that tended to get away pain free, like the now deceased Andrew Breitbart, but there are some cases that need a little more scrutiny on both sides. Personally, I think Maher got away with his comments because no one really cares about him. To me, he’s still the guy that made that movie about religion, sometimes says smart insightful things, and then says stupid, unnecessary, pointless, rude and mean things. Heck, it took me forever to even know how to say his name correctly (It’s Mar, not May-er), and according to Mediaite’s Power Grid, Maher comes in at #46 among TV Anchors/Hosts. To compare, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert come in at #6 and #7 respectively. For goodness sake, he’s on HBO. How many people watch that for political commentary? (Answer: A lot more once that movie about Palin comes out.)

Still, unfamiliarity is not a really good excuse to not call him on his crap. There’s no need to accept excuses from anyone on these issues. Now, these issues will show up, and often. That’s the nature of our ever more partisan nation and our ever-growing fast reaction grapevine through social media. You make a Tweet you’re going to regret and, trust me… No matter how fast you delete it, you will regret it if you’re a national figure. And we the people need to start holding these figureheads more and more accountable. Perhaps it starts with Limbaugh. If others continue to think they can do the same, unrepentant stuff when the dust settles and Limbaugh is limping away from the fight, then we take the fight to them until we get it through their heads that there is some behavior that will not be tolerated. Change can be had. Let’s start making it.

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Birth Control And Sluts: A Man’s Take

As you have undoubtedly heard, recently, Rush Limbaugh, the “comedian”/”entertainer” radio talk show host of the right wing very often known for his extremely bombastic and offensive viewpoints, decided it was appropriate to go on air and talk about Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke, who was barred from testifying at the Congressional birth control hearing because she was deemed “unqualified” by Republican Rep. Darrell Issa.

Now, while it does make sense to discuss the highly contentious issue of the contraception mandate, as well as the highly contentious issue of barring the only woman from a discussion about feminine health care products, what doesn’t make sense and what isn’t appropriate is what Limbaugh decided to say on the subject. Specifically targeting Fluke, Limbaugh called her a slut and said, “So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

A class act, that man.

Perhaps if Limbaugh had ever actually branded himself as a comedian, or his show as a comedy, there wouldn’t be such a huge to-do… but I doubt it. This gross mischaracterization has actually compelled President Barack Obama to call Fluke and encourage her, several big named GOP figureheads to disown the comments (as Limbaugh is a major representative voice in the conservative political world, despite having no real say), Limbaugh to eventually apologize and, by last count I saw, seven advertisers to pull their ads from his show.

So, some major fallout.

Still, apology or no, the basic sentiment was there. And Limbaugh isn’t the only person to have similar sentiments. In fact, there was even an attempt to pass something called the Blunt Amendment, which would have allowed health care stakeholders to “retain the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health coverage that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions, without fear of being penalized or discriminated against.”

So, exactly what is the problem here? Well, the contraception mandate basically required the birth control pill to be available in health care plans offered by all employers, including religious ones. This was dialed back to exclude churches, but include church-backed institutions, like schools and hospitals. Since most religious people see the birth control pill as either a) contraception (which the Catholic Church in specific disallows in every form) or b) a license for consequence free, immoral sexual activities (which pretty much all the other Christian churches say they disallow), it was not immensely popular amongst them.

First, let me clear the stupidity of the Blunt Amendment out of the way. Sure, Jon Stewart had a decent bit slamming how stupid the idea was, but I think I’ll take a simpler, less comic route.

Employed by Jehovah’s Witnesses? Say goodbye to anything that requires a blood transfusion, like many life-saving surgeries do. Personal moral beliefs should not trump the moral beliefs and choices of others.

Now, with that out of the way… The whole “slut” deal…

There’s this weird, stupid idea amongst people not framing this mandate as an affront on religious liberty that making birth control pills easily available to women (you know, so they’re not paying some $3000 a year for them) will encourage illicit, wanton sex. Some, like Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly, have demanded equal compensation for men.

So, here’s some of the problems.

First, the birth control pill is a hormone control pill. One that many women and young girls need throughout their life to balance their hormones properly. Do I know the specifics? No. But have I hung around enough women to know that they often need the pills for something other than sex? Yes.

Second, even if they do use it for sex… who cares? Why is the government attempting to limit the sexual activities of its citizens? Abstinence only education is bad enough, but at least it can pretend to defend itself by saying that it’s targeting children and trying to keep them from having sex. This stuff targets adults, who can do whatever the heck they want to whoever the heck they want that is also a consenting adult. The insinuation that women who want to have sex and avoid pregnancies are sluts is insulting to women and, frankly, men that have a couple of neurons to rub together and create thought with.

Which leads me to three. Third, what purpose is there to add the “male equivalent” of the birth control pill? That can mean one of two things… one, allow vasectomies to be covered. I do believe many health insurance plans actually do cover those, so that’s not the problem. But if the focus isn’t birth control, and hormone balance isn’t something men have to worry about en mass (as far as I know), then the second interpretation is that sex thing. So, what, men want condoms available on their health insurance? Something that can be purchased without medical signatures for insanely cheap? Can be given away for free all over the place? Has, really, exactly one purpose?

Men taking this stance have been swelling with a gross sense of entitlement. This idea that, “Hey… if women are getting health insurance for something that allows them to potentially have sex without pregnancy (but ignores all that STD stuff), we should totally be allowed to get the same deal that lets us bang whoever we want consequence free!” is totally ridiculous. There is absolutely no analogue. Purpose, cost, availability, all of these things are vastly different for birth control pills and male contraceptive devices like condoms. It’d be like saying, “Hey… if women are getting health insurance for something that allows them to get groped (breast exams), we should totally get a similar deal” to defend health insurance covering hand jobs at the local shady street corner.

So, men that say crap like that? Take it from a man (since a lot of you seem to think only men can have any real say in this issue) when I say get over yourselves and deal with it.

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Rick Santorum’s Religious Freedom Is Better Than Yours

Did you know, out of the 43 men that have been President of the United States, only one has ever been Catholic?

You’d think such a thing wouldn’t be such a terribly big deal. First black president, sure. We had that whole slavery thing in our past. But Catholic? I mean, that’s still Christian, right? That’s not even as far out of the American religious comfort zone as atheist or Muslim. And blacks and women have had to fight for rights. Catholics, being Christians, were always accepted, yeah?

Except not even a little bit at all.

Even before our country was ever founded, Catholicism wigged Americans out. One of the several acts passed by the British Parliament dubbed the Intolerable Acts by America’s Founding Fathers was the Quebec Act. A major reason colonists were upset about the act was that it gave Quebec land that some colonists had already started squatting on in true American style. But the fact that it guaranteed free practice of the Catholic faith made the Colonists all the more upset. Anti-Catholic sentiments were prevalent all throughout our nation’s history, as most misunderstood things have been. As well as things with a rather regrettable past history of violence and corruption. …except for our government and nation, of course. The Irish were largely hated on during the large immigrations of the 1800s in part due to their faith.

So when John F. Kennedy broke past all those stereotypes and misunderstandings to become our first and only Catholic President, it was actually a pretty big deal.

During the election process, he had to face scrutiny and distrust about his religion in the same fashion the 2008 Mitt Romney had to. (Romney hasn’t faced much scrutiny about it this go round because, let’s face it. He said he was Mormon in 2008. By now, he’s probably Episcopalian or something.) Therefore, on Sept. 12, 1960, during the campaign for presidency, JFK made an impassioned speech dedicating himself to his vision for America, not the Pope’s. A speech in which he stated he believed in an America “where the separation of church and state is absolute.” It was a speech that helped break the religious glass ceiling that had been holding Catholics back as serious political contenders, one that has allowed modern day Catholics like Vice President Joe Biden, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (having converted from Southern Baptist two years ago) and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum to achieve the status they hold today.

Of course, Santorum hated it to the point of wanting to throw up.

Now, one might be able to understand why Santorum hated it. It was, after all, a speech made by the severely liberal and unforgivably popular JFK, related to the also severely liberal and unforgivably popular Ted Kennedy. What a hateful house for conservatives. Of course your first instinct would be to hate anything they stood for.

Specifically, Santorum first took offense to the line I quoted earlier. He disagrees with the idea that the separation of church and state should be absolute. In his mind, the First Amendment’s protection of the free exercise of religion means that religion should be able to exercise itself politically. Or so his talking (and political views) would suggest. By his reading of JFK’s speech, JFK was attempting to say only people of “non-faith” should have any say in what happens politically.

…which, if that were true, would be stupid, since JFK admitted that he was Catholic and, in the speech, said, “But I do not intend to apologize for these views to my critics of either Catholic or Protestant faith–nor do I intend to disavow either my views or my church in order to win this election.”

So, if JFK was saying only those of “non-faith” should have a say in politics, wouldn’t he be disavowing his faith to win the election?

Basically, either Santorum is illiterate, didn’t actually read JFK’s speech, or has no idea what he’s talking about.

Considering Santorum later regretted saying the speech made him want to throw up, I’ve a feeling it was the latter.

Santorum’s problem, and the problem of many others, is a complete misunderstanding of what the separation of church and state actually is. He sees it like a Venn diagram, where people that have beliefs and faiths are in one circle and lawmakers and governing are in another circle. And those two circles don’t intersect at all.

But that’s not at all what the separation of church and state is or should be. What it is is the protection given to the church from the government forcing what the people of the faith should believe and do within their religion, and the protection given to the government from the church forcing what the citizens of the nation should believe and do within their daily lives.

Religion should not demand of governance, nor governance demand of faith. That is the separation of church and state. Considering we’ve had many a president advocate such a thing and yet no atheists for president, I should think that would be obvious.

But maybe such an understanding requires the comic overtones of Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show.” Who knows? It makes me laugh whilst being poignant, so I’m okay with it.

It’d be great if Santorum and others would take to heart JFK’s belief in an America “where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.”

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Jon Stewart: Not Just For Potheads And Liberal College Kids

Okay. This may be the dinkiest of all my dinky posts, but I’ve been busy. It IS Valentine’s Day, after all, and I’ve been spending it in the traditional way I have for a while: Alone, surrounded by writing and food. The Food Network has finally been showing episodes of “Chopped” I haven’t seen before.

…shut up, you know it’s good.

Besides. I’ve varied it up with a few episodes of “Friends” here and there. I never saw the show when it was on, but I’m planning on watching the series from beginning to end now.

ANYWAY.

To continue on to the really wimpy topic, as opposed to the deeper one I originally contemplated, I just saw this funny little article about Jon Stewart being quoted by a U.S. Senator. And I found it funny, because you don’t usually think of senators as being people that watch his show. I believe Bill O’Reilly would have us believe it’s all potheads and college kids. Who are also potheads.

But apparently California Senator Barbara Boxer watches the show and quoted his skit about the proposal to let any and all moralistic stances define health care options employers offer employees.

Which is, of course, a stupid, stupid proposal.

Though, now that I think on it… she is a California Senator… Someone is probably willing to call her a pothead anyway.

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Class Warfare: Bring Out The Poor

Okay. Starting a bit late today. I wanted to talk about the corporations vs. the poor… but you may find it sounds familiar.

See, this “poor people should pay taxes,” “don’t tax the rich” thing has been going on for… well, a while. Warren Buffett and Jon Stewart have both had quite a bit to say on it.

Therefore, as a preface to tomorrow’s post… I link you to the following things.

First, Buffett points out that if taxing the rich is “class warfare,” the rich are the ones holding the nukes. And why do they have the nukes?

Well, as Stewart says, “the poor have sh—y lobbyists.”

You may note that Mitt Romney mentioned a large percentage of people not paying taxes. Buffett mentioned it, too. Maybe all those poor people should pay more taxes?

Paying 2% more in taxes than I did while working a barely above minimum wage job at Walmart and earning more than was even possible for me to earn while at that job? Something I know many Americans have gone through?

Gotta say, Romney. Not cool.

I could go on about individual people for a while… but tomorrow, I’d just like to take a glance at corporations, who are apparently people, too. Let’s look at taxes from their perspectives then. Until then, enjoy those links.

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