Archive for October, 2010



Kris Connor/Getty
By  James Burnett
Oct 30, 2010 7:29 PM EDT

“What exactly was this?” Jon Stewart asked the crowd toward the end of Saturday’s Rally to Restore Sanity. It’s the one question everyone had been asking since the event was announced, and the answer, if based on the preceding 170 minutes, would have been: Certainly not a conventional comedy show, and not really a concert, but more like an attempt at a live variety show for an audience of 150,000. (Which proved a less than ideal format; the reviews of that aspect of the rally are unlikely to be kind.) But Stewart was about to make it clear that merely treating his guests to a good time was not the rally’s goal, despite his claims to that effect. There was, indeed, a message he wanted to send.

That message, if you were to boil it down, was that the media, and especially the part of the media represented by cable political shows, kind of sucks. It’s not an unfamiliar one to Stewart fans — he hits it during nearly every episode of The Daily Show — but here he expounded on it at length, and with minimal punch lines to soften the blows.

To reduce his 10 minute speech to a sound bite or two would be to commit the very sin he railed against. So we won’t. Here (with an assist from this Examiner post and the New York Times’ live blog of the event) is our almost-complete transcript of Stewart’s closing monologue. We’ll swap in the full video clip if it becomes available.

I can’t control what people think this was. I can only tell you my intentions. This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith. Or people of activism or to look down our noses at the heartland or passionate argument or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear. They are and we do. But we live now in hard times, not end times. And we can have animus and not be enemies.

Unfortunately, one of our main tools in delineating the two broke. The country’s 24-hour politico pundit panic conflict-onator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder. The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems and illuminate problems heretofore unseen, or it can use its magnifying glass to light ants on fire, and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous-flaming-ant epidemic. If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.

There are terrorists and racists and Stalinists and theocrats, but those are titles that must be earned. You must have the resume. Not being able to distinguish between real racists and tea partiers, or real bigots and Juan Williams and Rich Sanchez is an insult — not only to those people, but to the racists themselves, who have put forth the exhausting effort it takes to hate. Just as the inability to distinguish between terrorists and Muslims makes us less safe, not more.

The press is our immune system. If it overreacts to everything we eventually get sicker. And perhaps eczema. Yet, with that being said, I feel good. Strangely, calmly good, because the image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false. It is us through a funhouse mirror, and not the good kind that makes you slim and taller — but the kind where you have a giant forehead and an ass like a pumpkin and one eyeball.

So, why would we work together?  Why would you reach across the aisle to a pumpkin assed forehead eyeball monster?  If the picture of us were true, our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable.  Why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution or racists and homophobes who see no one’s humanity but their own?  We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is — on the brink of catastrophe — torn by polarizing hate and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done, but the truth is we do.  We work together to get things done every damn day. The only place we don’t is here or on cable TV. Americans don’t live here or on cable TV. Where we live our values and principles form the foundation that sustains us while we get things done, not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done.

Most Americans don’t live their lives solely as Democrats or Republicans or conservatives or liberals. Most Americans live their lives that our just a little bit late for something they have to do. Often it’s something they do not want to do, but they do it. Impossible things get done every day that are only made possible by the little, reasonable compromises.

With footage of lanes of slow-moving traffic playing on screens behind him, Stewart went on to build a metaphor based on the traffic merger at the Lincoln Tunnel between New York and New Jersey.

These cars — that’s a school teacher who thinks taxes are too high…there’s a mom with two kids who can’t think about anything else…another car, the lady’s in the NRA. She loves Oprah…An investment banker, gay, also likes Oprah…a Latino carpenter…a fundamentalist vacuum salesman…a Mormon Jay Z fan…But this is us. Everyone of the cars that you see is filled with individuals of strong belief and principles they hold dear — often principles and beliefs in direct opposition to their fellow travelers.

And yet these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze one by one into a mile-long, 30-foot wide tunnel carved underneath a mighty river…And they do it. Concession by concession. You go. Then I’ll go. You go, then I’ll go. You go, then I’ll go — oh my god, is that an NRA sticker on your car, an Obama sticker on your car? Well, that’s OK. You go and then I’ll go…”Sure, at some point there will be a selfish jerk who zips up the shoulder and cuts in at the last minute. But that individual is rare and he is scorned, and he is not hired as an analyst.

Because we know instinctively as a people that if we are to get through the darkness and back into the light we have to work together and the truth is, there will always be darkness.  And sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the promised land. Sometimes it’s just New Jersey.  But we do it anyway, together.

If you want to know why I’m here and what I want from you I can only assure you this: you have already given it to me.  You’re presence was what I wanted.  Sanity will always be and has always been in the eye of the beholder.  To see you here today and the kind of people that you are has restored mine.  Thank you.


Bill and Patty

Went to the Patty Murray/Bill Clinton rally in Everett the other day.  When everybody in the room is pro-Murray I wonder who is actually influenced.   Patty Murray and Jay Inslee from my district were nice talking heads.   But Bill rocked the house.  No matter what your politics the guy is mesmerizing.  I suspect most of the people were there to see Bill.

So Much To Say, So Little Room

The Love Truck

 Another great American demonstrating for the First Amendment.  It’s a wonderful country.  Thanks to Ron Elgin for finding this treasure.

I Wish I Wrote This

 If you have never read Margaret and Helen this is a great place to start.  They are wise beyond their 60+ years.  You may not agree with everything they say but they are passionate as well as articulate about their point of view.   I think they are brilliant.  Enjoy.

Margaret, the problem with Populism is that the population includes asses like Sarah Palin and her Tea Party.  Someone needs to remind them that this is America.  The government is elected by the people.  Questioning your government is patriotic.  Hating your government, one the other hand,  is simply a form of self loathing.

And let’s talk about that hatred.  It seems so at odds with the supposed Christian morals they so proudly espouse.  They hate big government but instead of taking issue with the largest part of that government – the military – they take issue with healthcare.  They hate big government in healthcare but they have no issue with government being big enough to intervene in the private health decisions of a woman seeking to end a pregnancy or the private decisions of a husband wanting to end the decade long sufferings of his wife.  They hate big government but they don’t seem to hate using government to legislate hate against homosexuals.  And they hate big government, but they don’t seem to hate it when they can use it to fuel their hatred.  Gosh I hate that…

And now those morons in Washington with the “R” after their names have made another pledge to America.   I guess it’s just one more thing they can do today and then ignore tomorrow .   A Contract With America.   A Pledge to America.  Mission Accomplished.   For goodness sakes how many times are we going to fall for this prank?  They spend years screwing everything up and then eventually pledge to not do it again.  How about not doing it the first time… or the second time for that matter?

 Here is my pledge to you Margaret.  I hope you like it

I pledge that I will actually read the Constitution before pledging to uphold it.  And I pledge that if I am too stupid to understand its intent,  I won’t become a politician.

I pledge not to start two wars, give tax breaks to millionaires, ruin the economy and then get mad when someone shows me the bill.

I pledge not to be a hypocrite or a Tea Party Republican – whichever comes first.

I pledge to remember that religious freedoms apply to all religions including the lack of a religion.  And I pledge to remember that no matter how much I believe in my religion, I will remember that my neighbor believes in his religion just as much.  And finally, I pledge that if I believe in my religion too much I will keep it to myself.

I pledge to stop calling Sarah Palin a stupid bitch when she finally admits that she is too stupid to run this country.  At that point I will simply call her a bitch and let the stupid speak for itself.

I pledge that I won’t hate gay people in public and then sleep with them in private.

I pledge to accept the fact that John McCain really can’t pull his head out of his ass at this point.  It’s in too deep.

I pledge not to be shocked when Rick Sanchez announces his new show on Fox News.

I pledge to remember that there are 6 billion people in the world and only 300 million of them live in the United States .  And with 300 million Americans to choose from, we can’t do better than John Boehner?  Really?

And Margaret, my dear, I pledge that I will vote on November 2.  I meant it.  Really.

Here is my pledge to you dear.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

That about sums it up, dear.  That and Endust is as good if not better than Pledge.

Vote Fearlessly

If you are 18 or older you must vote on November 2nd.  There are a ton of complex issues that require study… do that.  There is a lot of rhetoric out there that also demands that you get beyond the noise and make an informed decision.  It is not enough to yell at the television.  You must vote.

It Used To Be

It Used To Be:

–   that owning a home was a sure sign of success, security and self-worth.

–   that working at one company forever was aspirational.

–   that we never heard about the seamy side of our  leaders.

–   that we praised publicly and trashed privately.

–   that reality meant stuff that really happened.

–   that politicians were admired.

–  that we felt good about sending our kids to public schools.

–  that sports heroes were role models.

–  that 911 was only a phone number.

–  that banks and schools were safe havens.

–  that the more you knew, the more you were respected

–  that gossip was not news

Weekend Shallow

The Improv Everywhere folks have been staging public events for a while now.  This video captures one of their MP3 Experiments in which thousands download instructions from the Internet to their MP3’s and follow instructions.   What a blast.