Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Free-For-All: A Rally to Restore Sanity

Last night Jon Stewart made an interesting announcement. Ever since Glenn Beck organized a rally of the 100,o00 or so nutballs who would believe the sky was green if he said so, Stewart and Colbert have been getting calls from the true minority in this country (that being the rational viewers who when they hear something outrageous, don't get mad, they fact-check and find that once again Fox/Rush/Palin/Newt/Olberman have been distorting things.)

He heard the call, and he announced "A Rally to Restore Sanity," terming it "a million moderate march." Here's the announcement below. I won't spoil the jokes, but I love his suggested signs.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Rally to Restore Sanity
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Now I'm sure there are a few of you devoted Glenn Beck watchers who consider him an intelligent truth-sayer who's well-informed on the issues. To you, I can only say, "Fuck off."

I'm sorry. That came out wrong. My point is, that you uneducated reactionary folk might take umbridge at me calling myself a moderate. And I admit, that on today's political spectrum I probably sound like a hippie liberal. That's only because the Right has moved so far to the right in the last ten years that my ven diagram barely covers most of their now-extreme values. I assure you, just because I'm not willing to believe anything Rush or Fox says, that doesn't make me biased against the Right. I think there are well-meaning conservatives with decent values and ideals. They've merely sold out because it's politically expedient (*cough*McCain).

I hope that Stewart's rally gets a lot of coverage, if only in the hopes that it will encourage more moderates to come out of the closet. Nothing is going to get done as long as these two sides only demonize each other and obstruct any progress from being made. It's not about doing good, it's about winning. As we've seen, Karl Rove can denounce a Tea Party candidate as a nut and a liar one day, and then, when she wins the nomination to be the Republican candidate, he turns around and endorses her.

Because it's not about anything other than winning. If Joe McCarthy were resurrected today and held a commanding lead in the primary polls under the "I want to lock up everyone who joined a union, heard of a union, or has worked for Western Union" party, the Republicans would get behind him faster than the Flash getting freaky with his wife in the bedroom.

Why won't that happen with the Democrats? Because they can't get their shit together on anything. After the last two years, it's pretty clear that you could play a game of "Horse" with a Democrat, spot him the "H, O, R" and the "S" and he'd still get his ass kicked! Even with a black guy leading the team! So every November I die a little inside when I have to chose between the party of no higher principles, and the party of no effective action.

Issues like mosque construction, socialism (which is only imminent if you'd have called the Clinton Administration socialist as well), and terror babies are just election year rhetoric with virtually no basis in reality. It's designed to aim for the emotions rather than the truth of the situation. And people on both sides of the aisle are equally guilty of it.

Meanwhile, those of us in the middle just look and shake our heads - and get attacked by BOTH sides when we inevitably have to point out it ain't black and white.

So that's why this rally interests me. Do I think it'll make much impact? No, not really. But maybe it'll convince many of those moderates like myself that we are not alone. While it seems the whole country has gone mad around us, it's really just an increasingly vocal (but still relatively small) percentage of assholes, and a large group of well-meaning people who have merely been misinformed.

So if I was in Washington DC this Halloween, I'd definitely be going as a moderate - which I guarantee will scare the hell out of my conservative and liberal friends. Because we don't fit in their neat little box.

I leave you with this song from River of Dreams, one of my favorite Billy Joel albums:


  1. If people engage me in a political discussion I stick my fingers in my ears and keep repeating "The Empire was Jar-Jar's fault. That's all I have to say."

    My first concert. 10/22/1986 - The Bridge Tour @ The Centrum.

    My t-shirt in 1989? Metallica. My secret music? Billy Joel's greatest hits, Pail Simon's Graceland, John Mellencamp's Scarecrow. Such a poser.....

  2. I do not even know what to label myself anymore. Both parties have grown tiresome to the point that I just don't care about anything they discuss. I'm not sure if that makes me moderate, but I'd like them both to just shut up.

    Really, whenever anyone asks me a political question or about my political party, I simply tell them I don't care. When I go to the theater, I don't enjoy watching two kids argue over who gets to sit where or why and then mock one another. I'll pass on watching the 35+ year-old versions of it.

    Anyway, considering that I love The Daily Show and found those signs to match closely to my own thoughts, I would find a reason to make the six-hour bus trip to DC if I didn't already have shit to do that day.

  3. I live in the UK. We have a coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

    Unfortunately, it's not really working as well as we'd hoped.

  4. Ever play Grand Theft Auto 4, Bitter?

    Basically the game's about stealing cars and going on criminal missions, during which you can listen to a bunch of radio stations. One of them's a hilarious parody of far-right talk radio where the Limbaugh-sounding host talks about the true freedom of America is the freedom from thought and "knowing you're always right."

    It's one of the rare video games with great dialogue and voice acting and so much of the media content (aforementioned radio stations, TV shows, advertising) being a scathing indictment of current American life, esp. right-wing values.

  5. Bitter, you most certainly are not dead center, but most certainly center-left, as I'm center-right.

    I don't worship at the Altar of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and rarely listen to, or watch them, or most of the media. I get most of my news from news aggregation sites that trawl the internet for all of the stories you never see on any of the major channels or their websites.

    The only radio talk show host I can listen to is Michael Savage, as he's the only one that tells it like it is and doesn't drone on about politics for the entirety of the program.

    Michael's been banned in England for "hate speech," even though his program does not air in England, and he's still the number three talk show in the USA. It's been proven that Michael was put on the list to balance out all of the Muslim terrorists on the list by the previous Home Secretary, who resigned in shame over her husbands porn-spree on the government's time.

    I absolutely LOATHE politics. I've always considered neither party better than one another.

  6. The empire was Jar-Jar's fault! Jar-Jar's fault!!!

  7. "To you, I can only say, 'Fuck off.'"

    Well, that sounds so moderate n' reasonable n' shit. The dishonesty of Stewart is that, as the right-wing charges, he's an "extreme left-liberal." I personally do not believe he's all that left-wing, but because the center of politics has shifted each decade after Reagan, we go by the continuum we have, not the one we want to have (or a world-wide standard -- we ain't on the metric system).

    The Daily Show (and Colbert Report) are the most aggressively liberal-secular programs on television, and I love them for it, but Stewart especially never owns up to his beliefs. And what's so great about being "moderate"? Moderates are the least politically informed segment of the country. Stewart insists on a narrative that is empirically lacking: he claims all these people "in the middle" are turned off to politics because of the shouting matches on the edges. That might be the excuse a few people use, but as a writer and reader, you should know conflict arouses interest.

    Just because someone takes a strong position does not mean it's an unreasonable one. In the mid 1800s, we had activists argue for ABOLISHING slavery. Other activists argued for recognizing women's rights. More recently, the "far left" took the position that the Iraq war was stupid and pointless.

    There's also nothing wrong with calling a fucking idiot a fucking idiot. Michael Savage, for example, is a fucking idiot, arguably worse than either Beck or Limbaugh.

  8. The use of the word 'liberal' has become rather absurd in the US. The fact alone, that it's somehow connected with 'hippies' or 'commies' and an opposition to 'conservative' is nonsense, or inaccurate to say the least.
    Many 'left-leaning' people aren't really liberal in the traditional sense, certainly not economically, often not even socially.

    For example, there's nothing 'liberal' about national health care, which I and many other 'hippies' support.
    And half the vocal group of people who call that 'socialism' are people on Medicare or farmers who only grow subsidized corn crops. I mean, WTF?!!

    I love Jon Stewart. Does that make me 'moderate' or a 'liberal'? I don't think so - we'd probably do best if we just stopped the stupid labels which mean something different to everyone and just talk about fucking FACTS and OPINIONS.

    I mean, some people think Reagen was a 'conservative'. Seriously?! One thing is for sure, the Democrats and Republicans are equally inept, with different banners.

  9. Cole - Good points all around, but the one I really like is your Reagan comment. For me, the current GOP fetishization of Reagan is one of the most bizarrely fascinating things about them. It's akin to criminalizing homosexuality, then nominating Ellen Degeneres for Superme Court and Elton John for Attorney General.

    If Reagan held any Republican office today, they'd call him a RINO and be digging up every last bit of dirt they could on him. Don't believe me? These two links say it all! It's a litmus test for "Republican purity" that was proposed last year. The party leaders would have insisted that candidates sign on to at least eight of the ten stated principles to qualify for Republican funding. Reagan himself would have been a miss on SIX of the ten.

    I think they're trying to tap into the "cult of personality" that Reagan had - ironically the same sort of thing they tried to attack Obama supporters for. I don't think it'll work, largely because the party does have anyone likely to be "the next Reagan." Up until 2007, I'd have said McCain had a shot. I think if it hadn't been for Rove's utterly sleazy tactics in South Carolina, in 2000, McCain might very well have pulled it off and the past 10 years would have been EXTREMELY different.

    So as long as Arnold can't run for President, I don't see "the next Reagan" coming from the GOP. (Oh lighten up, people, it's a JOKE!)

    But, mostly I think they invoke Reagan because there's no one else on their team to hold up as their Messiah. Bush the First? A one-termer whose legacy is tainted by his son. Ford? The accidental President. Nixon? Fair or not, he's the poster boy for presidential corruption.

    Where does that put them? Dwight Eisenhower - who left office in 1961... almost fifty years ago. I'm not saying that the Democrat batting average is significantly better, nor that none of these men didn't accomplish great things... just summing up the perception. Also, the Democrats aren't trying to brand themselves based on past glories.

    Total sidebar - I have this odd fascination with how Nixon might be regarded today had Watergate never happened. He's another one who's just a hair shy of being a Democrat when held up against today's GOP. Also, with no intial scandal to lower the bar, you could argue that we'd be existing in a somewhat different political climate.

  10. I didn't even know the GOP idealized him so much, just a general notion I got. Mostly, from some FOX-watching former co-workers.

    Yes, "personality". Reagan was always a poster boy, that's how and why he got elected, I think. So I suppose it's the image, more than anything he actually did, that stays. What he was supposed to stand for.

    I honestly don't know how anyone can believe he actually improved anything for the average American. Perhaps, since back then anything seemed like an improvement, the confounded achievements live on.

    Nixon, beside being labeled 'a crook', never was very likable, no? A quality rated far too highly in voters' minds. How else could they be fooled into re-electing someon like Bush Jr.? Good ol' boy.

    Speaking of propaganda, I really liked the segment about Reagan in "Capitalism - A Love Story". I don't have much respect for Moore anymore, but he sure knows how to make the horrifying in politics entertaining.