What We Restored Sanely and Kept Alive Fearfully

(crossposted on MyFDL)

I, like most people, had no real concrete idea of what The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was to entail when we packed ourselves onto the D.C. metro cars early Saturday morning.  My expectations were high for the event, and I assumed I would be surrounded by open-minded free-thinking individuals whose passion for such an event was as wholesome as mine.  I was not disappointed.

Feeling guilty for complaining about the miniscule hour drive to the Shady Grove metro station, there were groups of people bussed from Oklahoma, New York, Los Angeles, and everywhere in between.  I hauled my sleep-deprived butt out of bed at the unfamiliar hour of 4 a.m. to attend what I hoped would certainly be a fulfilling day of cooky signs, facetiously witty humor, and maybe some cupcakes.

My expectations were blown away (except the cupcakes, I never found any…)

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are two alternating comedic personalities who have managed to garner some clout when it comes to events such as this and media cavalcades alike.  Upon the heels of Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor Rally, one looked down highly upon from the “left-of-center” audience, Stewart and Colbert cooked up their respective rallies in what most thought to be a moderate response to Beck’s piss and moan festival.  Contrary dear reader, it was not. Err… well not directly so to speak.

So what were we rallying and marching for Saturday in the nation’s capital?  The answer is what you make of it.  Here’s what I made of it.

Fortunately, a good friend scored an extra VIP pass so I managed to see the stage and be very close to the action.  What I saw, for the most part, ended up being good bands, great comedy, and a very selfless awards ceremony.  It was not until Stewart’s final speech that I felt truly enlightened and knew what the purpose of this gathering was.

Stewart gave an impassioned speech, lined with some comedic instances, that truly spoke to the thousands (CBS estimated 250K) of people in attendance.

The message:  We are Americans, we are diverse, we will never all agree, but we are one people.   The political discourse in this country has grown to such immense proportions, and not only just the partisan divide but the division of people in general has multiplied to great proportions.  Why are we here?  To show a sane, moderate, reasonable attitude and prove to people that we can unite as peaceful terms.  We are not Democrats, Republicans, Liberals, Conservatives, Blacks, Whites, Jews, Atheists, Christians, Muslims; We are Americans.  We are working together every day to get things done as Stewart pointed out.

I’ve never been so taken by any one speech in my life.  Maybe I’m a sap, or maybe just a naive college student,  but Stewart’s speech was something so unreal.  Jon Stewart was not a comedian on Saturday.  He was not a Television personality, former supporting actor to Adam Sandler in Big Daddy, or the author of two best-selling books.  Jon Stewart was one of us.  Not a creepy Christine O’Donnell type one of us, he was truly just like us.

Is this an over dramatization of the rally?  I don’t think so.  Some may read this and see these words as just that of an amped up latte-sipping liberal college student and his rants about some hip event he went to.  I hope there is more depth to it than this.  This event is honestly something I’ll tell my children about; something I went to and witnessed.  No, it will not gain the notoriety of the Million Man March (nor should it), or the numbers of Obama’s Inauguration, but it was something that was necessary, awesome, and inspiring.

“We work together every damn day to get things done in this country.”

 

 

What Obama is Missing

I know everyone is going to yell at me for writing this now. I can hear it now, "We're trying to win an election! You're not helping! Criticizing Democrats now is akin to getting into bed with Karl Rove!" Ok, I hope not the last one, that sounds creepy, but you get the point.

The reality is while a lot of people are talking, we're actually doing something. Along with PCCC and DFA, we are participating in TurkOutTheVote.com. That is part of their larger effort at CallOutTheVote.com  to get people who care to volunteer and make calls to turn out the vote for strong progressives. Please help in that effort if you have any free time. Some of the elections are very close and talking to real voters helps tremendously.

Now, the reason I'm writing a piece critical of Obama at this point is because I just saw an excellent interview Jon Stewart had with him on The Daily Show. In fact, I thought it was the best interview of the president I have ever seen (my detailed analysis of the interview is here).

Stewart got him to address real, substantive criticism of his record for the first time. Almost everyone else that has interviewed him has either wildly misstated the case or challenged him from the right. Stewart asked all of the right questions. And the answers were very informative. This is what I learned.

Unfortunately, Obama doesn't get it. He's not alone; almost the entire Washington media doesn't understand what the hell we're talking about when we say change. Obama said that he got 90% of what we wanted in health care reform and that people are complaining we didn't get the other 10%. I totally disagree with him on the percentages (I think it was closer to 40%), but that misses the whole point.

We're not quibbling over legislative compromises. For example, I would have given the NRA exemption and every other exemption that was proposed to pass the DISCLOSE act. We're not stupid, we understand the need to compromise and the fact that of course you can't get all of what you want.

The real issue isn't whether you changed some provisions and didn't change others; it's whether you changed the system or not. That's the change we were looking for.

So, in the case of health care, as long as there was some effort to break the health insurance monopoly we would have all jumped in. We didn't need single payer, we didn't need Medicare buy-in for everyone, we didn't even need the public option for everyone (all of those would have been great, but we were nowhere near them in this political cimate). We just needed something, something to start changing the broken system.

We would have settled for Medicare buy-in starting at age 55. We would have settled for the public option that only applied for 5% of the country, the last proposal. There were no wild demands, no mythical inflexible progressives demanding 100%. We just didn't want the core of the system to be exactly as it was before. And unfortunately it is.

Yes, we got more coverage for more people. I'm not discounting the good sides of the bill, but at the same time you can't be purposely dense to what we're saying. Private health insurance is still our only option, drug companies still have massive monopolies, our premiums are still going up and we are still at the mercy of these corporations.

But health care is just an example; the real heart of the issue is how our elections are financed. The lobbyists are killing us. The Democratic voters hate them and so do the Republican voters. They buy our politicians and corrupt the whole system. That is what the Tea Party protestors are most angry about at their core (73% of Tea Party supporters are against the Citizens United decision that allows for corporations to spend unlimited money on elections). That is what progressives are most angry about at their core (86% of liberals are against Citizens United). The system is broken. Our politicians don't work for us. Our representatives don't represent us. That is what we wanted to change!

And what was done about that? Nearly nothing! Yes, Obama administration brought a little more transparency to the process initially (though after Citizens United we've taken a giant step backwards - and that's a part of why that is one of the most unpopular decisions in Supreme Court history). Yes, the administration mostly banned lobbyists for working for them directly. But there was no major piece of legislation to fix the heart of the system.

If we continue to let special interests, corporate interests and lobbyists buy our politicians, there's no hope on any of the issues. Then Obama is right, the best we could hope for is a little bit of change in the different fields. If you accept that false premise, then Obama did the best he could do within those constraints.

But we didn't elect him to accept that premise, we elected him to change that premise. That was the change we were waiting for - and didn't get.

Unfortunately, based on President Obama's answers to Jon Stewart he still doesn't get it and has no intentions of pushing that agenda in the next two years. And he will probably be just as flummoxed then as to why people aren't satisfied with his efforts. Your timidity isn't based on your specific policy proposals; it's based on your lack of vision.

If he fought tooth and nail for complete public financing of elections in the next two years, even if he didn't win, we would all back him 100%. We don't need 100% success, but we do need you to at least head in the right direction. And we need you to understand what we meant by change.

Watch The Young Turks Here

Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheYoungTurks
Become a Fan of The Young Turks on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tytnation

 

 

What Obama is Missing

I know everyone is going to yell at me for writing this now. I can hear it now, "We're trying to win an election! You're not helping! Criticizing Democrats now is akin to getting into bed with Karl Rove!" Ok, I hope not the last one, that sounds creepy, but you get the point.

The reality is while a lot of people are talking, we're actually doing something. Along with PCCC and DFA, we are participating in TurkOutTheVote.com. That is part of their larger effort at CallOutTheVote.com  to get people who care to volunteer and make calls to turn out the vote for strong progressives. Please help in that effort if you have any free time. Some of the elections are very close and talking to real voters helps tremendously.

Now, the reason I'm writing a piece critical of Obama at this point is because I just saw an excellent interview Jon Stewart had with him on The Daily Show. In fact, I thought it was the best interview of the president I have ever seen (my detailed analysis of the interview is here).

Stewart got him to address real, substantive criticism of his record for the first time. Almost everyone else that has interviewed him has either wildly misstated the case or challenged him from the right. Stewart asked all of the right questions. And the answers were very informative. This is what I learned.

Unfortunately, Obama doesn't get it. He's not alone; almost the entire Washington media doesn't understand what the hell we're talking about when we say change. Obama said that he got 90% of what we wanted in health care reform and that people are complaining we didn't get the other 10%. I totally disagree with him on the percentages (I think it was closer to 40%), but that misses the whole point.

We're not quibbling over legislative compromises. For example, I would have given the NRA exemption and every other exemption that was proposed to pass the DISCLOSE act. We're not stupid, we understand the need to compromise and the fact that of course you can't get all of what you want.

The real issue isn't whether you changed some provisions and didn't change others; it's whether you changed the system or not. That's the change we were looking for.

So, in the case of health care, as long as there was some effort to break the health insurance monopoly we would have all jumped in. We didn't need single payer, we didn't need Medicare buy-in for everyone, we didn't even need the public option for everyone (all of those would have been great, but we were nowhere near them in this political cimate). We just needed something, something to start changing the broken system.

We would have settled for Medicare buy-in starting at age 55. We would have settled for the public option that only applied for 5% of the country, the last proposal. There were no wild demands, no mythical inflexible progressives demanding 100%. We just didn't want the core of the system to be exactly as it was before. And unfortunately it is.

Yes, we got more coverage for more people. I'm not discounting the good sides of the bill, but at the same time you can't be purposely dense to what we're saying. Private health insurance is still our only option, drug companies still have massive monopolies, our premiums are still going up and we are still at the mercy of these corporations.

But health care is just an example; the real heart of the issue is how our elections are financed. The lobbyists are killing us. The Democratic voters hate them and so do the Republican voters. They buy our politicians and corrupt the whole system. That is what the Tea Party protestors are most angry about at their core (73% of Tea Party supporters are against the Citizens United decision that allows for corporations to spend unlimited money on elections). That is what progressives are most angry about at their core (86% of liberals are against Citizens United). The system is broken. Our politicians don't work for us. Our representatives don't represent us. That is what we wanted to change!

And what was done about that? Nearly nothing! Yes, Obama administration brought a little more transparency to the process initially (though after Citizens United we've taken a giant step backwards - and that's a part of why that is one of the most unpopular decisions in Supreme Court history). Yes, the administration mostly banned lobbyists for working for them directly. But there was no major piece of legislation to fix the heart of the system.

If we continue to let special interests, corporate interests and lobbyists buy our politicians, there's no hope on any of the issues. Then Obama is right, the best we could hope for is a little bit of change in the different fields. If you accept that false premise, then Obama did the best he could do within those constraints.

But we didn't elect him to accept that premise, we elected him to change that premise. That was the change we were waiting for - and didn't get.

Unfortunately, based on President Obama's answers to Jon Stewart he still doesn't get it and has no intentions of pushing that agenda in the next two years. And he will probably be just as flummoxed then as to why people aren't satisfied with his efforts. Your timidity isn't based on your specific policy proposals; it's based on your lack of vision.

If he fought tooth and nail for complete public financing of elections in the next two years, even if he didn't win, we would all back him 100%. We don't need 100% success, but we do need you to at least head in the right direction. And we need you to understand what we meant by change.

Watch The Young Turks Here

Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheYoungTurks
Become a Fan of The Young Turks on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tytnation

 

 

How Many J-Words Can Dance on the Tip of a Tongue?

CNN’s Rick Sanchez decided to go toe-to-toe with faux newser Jon Stewart and suffered the same fate as the last CNNer to do so – Tucker Carlson. However in the aftermath, we have a sort of “how many J-Words can dance on the tip of the tongue” argument brewing.

Stewart had been doing to Sanchez what he’s done to so many others for weeks – made fun of him. It’s the penalty one pays when one is famous and says dumb things. It’s all too easy for Stewart’s crack staff to find double-speak video and other public statements to hold crapweasels up to ridicule. I think Stewart’s brand of ridicule, despite its definite bite, is far less passionate than Keith Olbermann‘s skewers of the famous and inane. One gets the sense that Jon knows it’s a joke while Olbermann actually believes his targets are the Worst Persons in the World.

But then, I ain’t famous so what do I know?

Punking Yourself
If you live under the glare of studio lights and talk for a living – incessantly – you’ll punk yourself occasionally. It happens. And when it does, you have to either have a great sense of humor or develop tough skin, because the dumber you are, the more you’ll be held up to ridicule. Exhibits A-D, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Christine O’Donnell, and Sharron Angle, et al.

Sanchez’s skin is apparently as thin as John McTheusela’s, as is the skin of Sanchez’s CNN overlords. Sanchez let the J-Bombs fly, CNN fired him, he apologized to Stewart soon after and Jon and Rick rode into the sunset, at least if not BFFs, OK with things. And, Christopher Hitchens takes up Sanchez’s cause.

Hitchens? Really? Famous crusading atheist? Has cancer?

One in the same.

Hitchens argues that Sanchez’s anti-Jewish statements are literally true. Despite the anti-semitic overtones, he says Jews (along with white Christians) actually are disproportionately represented in media and entertainment boardrooms. To Hitchens, Sanchez simply stated a fact no more problematic than saying African Americans are under-represented. And as boneheaded as Hitchens often is, he has a point. But, it was never about THAT point and it isn’t a necessarily a socially polite thing to say.

It all boils down to a “who can safely say the N-word, or in this case, the J-word”. Sure, Sanchez was unbelievably stupid, but if we’re going to fire every TV personality who’s stupid, TV would consist of lots of HD snow and annoying test pattern buzz.

But, you could make an argument that would be an improvement.

Not a White Supremacist Candidate
I personally find Sanchez annoying and I suspect his assumed anti-semitism may be real to some degree, although, barring any information to the contrary,  I’m not so sure he’d be a good candidate for your neighborly white supremacist enclave.

I don’t condone what he said. In fact, I don’t think it is as literally true as Hitchens does either. But, I’m not sure if it’s a firing offense when put in context.

Sanchez did the right thing in calling Stewart to apologize – though he wimped out by letting his wife announce it to the public on Facebook. Everyone might have been better served if the apology was both personal and public. A true mea culpa with some teeth – perhaps a show or series of shows devoted to anti-semitism coupled with some work with Jewish charities and up close and personal exposure to Jewish people. The Jewish religion believes in atonement, a earthly one to be sure, but atonement nonetheless.

If Sanchez refused to do these things, if his superiors had to co-opt him to do them – in a very public way – they, and those calling for his resignation, would have every right to say, “don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.” Or, if he did it again, ala Mel Gibson, away with him. No one has to cut the man some slack and some believe no one should.

But we might all learn a little about ourselves and each other if we did.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

Colbert Congressional Testimony: The Truthiness of the Matter

Polls suggest large swaths of the country get their news from faux newsers Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Well, except the far righties who get their news from the faux newsers on Faux News, but that’s a whole other post.

It’s no wonder, Stewart is less biased than most real anchorbots and he’s a master at repeatedly demonstrating that technologically-challenged politicians still don’t get the concept that video never goes away.

Damn that infernal TV contraption!

Colbert – who isn’t a Republican, but plays one on TV – refers to the “truthiness” of his news, which is an unfair assessment. His news is usually far more truth(FULL) than the “real” stuff.

That might be the reason Colbert is scheduled to testify before the House Immigration Subcommittee on Friday.

He’ll appear in character to testify about his experiences after interviewing United Farm Workers President, Arturo Rodriguez, on his show. Rodriguez invited the President of the Cobert Nation to participate in the UFWs Take Our Jobs Initiative – a program that asks regular American softies to apply for jobs as farm workers. The UFW provides training to erstwhile farm workers so they can replace immigrants in the fields. It’s meant as a not-so-subtle bit of hyperbole to answer claims that farm workers are stealing American jobs.

“Somehow, undocumented workers are getting as much blame for our economic troubles as Wall Street, but missing from the immigration debate is an honest recognition that the food we all eat at home, in restaurants and work-place cafeterias, including those in the Capitol, comes to us from the labor of undocumented workers,” Rodriguez said. “According to the federal government, more than 50 percent of the workers laboring are undocumented.”

I once knew a man who traveled all over the world after his retirement as an air traffic controller to play amateur migrant farm worker. He picked oranges in California, avacados in Australia, and tomatoes in Wisconsin. He even had the business cards to prove it. But, that’s a whole other post too.

I’m sure Colbert’s testimony will be just as hilarious as say, Alberto Gonzales’ “I’m sorry, but I can’t recall that particular felony Senator” deny-a-thon during the Bush the Lesser™ administration. However, it’s still a sad state of affairs that Americans have so monumentally wigged out over issues like immigration that we’re better off depending on a comedian to tell us the truth – at least a different “truth” than Jan Brewer can muster.

What’s next the cartoon version of the Constitution?

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

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