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Today in My History

2000:  Things that Go Bump in the Night
2001:  I'm Sorry--You're Dead
Georgette of the Jungle
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2004:  I'm Already Behind
Wanted: An Arsonist
2006: Boo at the Zoo
2007: Lizzie's Spa Day
2008: Goblin

2009:  Another Corner Heard From


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1 November 2010

I haven't watched any of the talking heads today to hear if any of them commented on the Rally to Restore Sanity because, as Stewart said, "I know that there are boundaries for a comedian / pundit / talker guy, and I'm sure that I'll find out tomorrow how I have violated them."  I expected that the people he was talking about would minimize and belittle the rally and I was still on too much of a high to listen to that.

But I did catch Dick Armey at the end of Christine Amanpour's program, which Walt was watching.  Armey was smirking (how I hate politicians, of any party, who smirk!), snickering and minimizing the effect of the rally, and joking about how he watched some of it and laughed a bit about it and then went out into The French Quarter in New Orleans and partied and so it was a fun day for him.

I wanted to slap him.  Did he hear the closing 12 minutes of the rally, where Stewart got serious?  You can be sure that the news people who covered the rally and those who refused to (MSNBC and NPR, among them) will make light of the whole thing, missing the point of the rally to begin with.  They will, as he predicted talk about the boundaries for comedians and how he violated them.

Stewart's comments:

So, uh, what exactly was this? 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 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. But unfortunately, one of our main tools in delineating the two broke.

The country's 24-hour, political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator 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, bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen. Or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire, and then perhaps host a week of shows on the dangerous, unexpected flaming ants epidemic. If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.

I love this statement.  The 24 hour news cycle amplifies everything.  We are all on information overload and as a result, we hear nothing.   And the faux-est of them are the ones magnifying ants to create threats to this country that didn't exist before so that they can talk about the flaming ants epidemic.

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 Party-ers, or real bigots and Juan Williams or Rick Sanchez is an insult--not only to those people, but to the racists themselves, who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate. Just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe, not more.

Wow.  How I loved this.  "Those are titles that must be earned."  In one paragraph he explained why things like the NY mosque and all this painting of Muslims with one broad brush is so wrong.  It also gives respect to those rational Tea Party-ers who are not witches or people who don't believe the Constitution mentions separation of church and state, or whatever weird things are being reported by the nutcase fringe of the Tea Party, most of whom I am sure are well-meaning, well-intentioned, intelligent people.  And yet we don't get the chance to get to know those guys because it's the nutcases that make entertaining news.   On both sides.

During the Obama-McCain campaign I became a news junkie and I had such great respect for Keith Olbermann (and to lesser degree Chris Matthews) but I have lost so much of that now because they are carrying the banner for publicizing the nutcases.  It used to be that when they had some sort of editorial comment to make, I listened and was moved.  Now I roll my eyes and turn on the local news program.   Olbermann lost me with his eternal battle with Fox News, Bill O'Reilly and Roger Ailes.  He has a program of his own, an axe to grind, and the power to take his own program hostage if he wants to prove that he has more watchers than O'Reilly.  I loved the Rachel Maddow show where she talked about ratings and showed that the fishing channel had significantly more viewers than either Olbermann or O'Reilly, but that neither of them mentions that fact.

The press is our immune system. If it overreacts to everything, we actually get sicker--and, perhaps, eczema. And yet... 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 look slim in the waist, and maybe taller, but the kind where you have a giant forehead, and an ass shaped like a month-old 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, of course our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable--why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution, and homophobes who see no one's humanity but their own?

We hear every damned 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. The truth is, we do! We work together to get things done every damned day! The only place we don't is here (in Washington) or on cable TV!

I loved this too.  About how the only place where people don't cooperate is in Washington.  Stewart made a gesture toward the capitol when he made this statement.

But 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, Republicans, liberals or conservatives. Americans live their lives more as people that are just a little bit late for something they have to do. Often something they do not want to do! But they do it. Impossible things, every day, that are only made possible through the little, reasonable compromises we all make.

(Points to video screen, showing video of cars in traffic.) Look on the screen. This is where we are, this is who we are. These cars. That's a schoolteacher who probably think his taxes are too high, he's going to work. There's another car, a woman with two small kids, can't really think about anything else right now... A lady's in the NRA, loves Oprah. There's another car, an investment banker, gay, also likes Oprah. Another car's a Latino carpenter; another car, a fundamentalist vacuum salesman. Atheist obstetrician. Mormon Jay-Z fan.

But this is us. Every one 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?' 'Is that an Obama sticker on your car?' It's okay--you go, then I go.

And 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!

I thought the traffic analogy (with visual demonstration) was brilliant.  Watching all those cars zipping together from four lanes to one, every other car letting one in ahead of him/her.  We everyday Americans make compromises and work together every day.  We put aside differences for the greater good.   And, as he says, the only place this seems not to happen is in the houses of Congress, while we everyday Americans sit and wait for important decisions to be made that affect our health, our ability to find a place to live, the education of our children, and every important aspect of our lives and the lives of people with whose governments we are at war, which our representatives are too stubborn and pig-headed to even try to come to any kind of compromise about.

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.

So the Dick Armeys and the other pundits of the country can snicker and minimize the effect of this rally, but if they'd stop snickering and listen for a couple of minutes, maybe they would start thinking about what the people in this country want ... and it's not what we are being manipulated by special interests spending gazillions of dollars into believing is good for us.


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