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Posts Tagged ‘Jon Stewart’

Well, Rick Sanchez has moved on from what seemed to be a pretty good gig at CNN hosting his own show for a couple of hours every afternoon.  The man who has made a name for himself being tasered, as is happening in the photo shown here, fell prey to the folly of resentment. 

When asked about The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart on a Sirius Radio program, Sanchez chose to let his own personal insecurities overtake him.  He chose to attack Stewart’s success as being a product of something other than talent and hard work, inferring that Stewart was merely there because he was buddy-buddy with all the people like him who run all media– the so-called liberal elite and the Jews.  Of course.

What a fool.  In a few short moments Sanchez showed why he is considered “second-tier”, as he described, among newspeople.  It has nothing to do with his own ethnicity.  It has to do with performance.

It probably galled him that Stewart, a comedian and self-proclaimed fake journalist, is ridng a wave of popularity and now wears the mantle of  “most trusted newsman in America” that once belonged to Cronkite and other serious journalists.  Okay.  I understand that.  But instead of letting this resentment make you envious and prejudicial in your own thoughts and words, turn it into the impetus for making yourself a better journalist and a better person. 

 Rick, if you must ask yourself why Stewart is more popular and respected than you and the only answer that comes to mind is that it is because of him being favored by the perceived Jewish overlords who run all media, you’ve still got some work to do.

This story saddens me.  I was never a big Rick Sanchez fan but to see someone let their own feelings of inadequacy ruin all they’ve worked for is a sad thing.  And this event will probably only reinforce the resentment he was already feeling.

Sad.

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I’ve written here about the incivility of political discourse, about how maddening it is to see disagreement spiral out of control into shoutfests.  Instead of debating a side of an argument  based on common sense, our public political conversation has become debasing those who oppose our viewpoints with slurs.  Fear-mongers have spurred us to the furthest poles, leaving our political system stalled and  ineffective.

The vast majority of us don’t want this.  Most of us don’t see our president as a reincarnation of Hitler.  Most of us want our government to act quickly and responsibly on behalf of what is best for the majority, with all our interests kept in mind.  Most of us have the common sense to understand that while we may not like it, we have to expect to pay taxes to maintain our country and the life it provides for us.  Most of us just want calm discussion where each side actively listens to the other’s point of view and  compromise is not considered defeat.  Most of us just want to live our lives quietly and safely, free to go about our days free from fear.

 Most rallies are bent on stirring anger or passion in the attendees, to spur them to movement.  There aren’t rallies to ask us to take a breath and calm down.

Until now.

Jon Stewart announced last night on The Daily Show that they are holding a Rally To Restore Sanity on the Mall in Washington, DC on October 30, 2010.  They’re a little short on details but if you go to their website you can be put on their e-mail list for upcoming details.  Stewart has gained a reputation for his respectful treatment of  his guests, even those whose views are completely opposite his.  His interviews have a light tone but  have insightful direct questions and often reveal more information than those conducted by the supposed real press.  He’s providing a much-needed service to our country in these polarized times.

Of course, there must be an opposing movement for all rallies and this is no exception.  This comes in the form of Stephen Colbert’s March to Keep Fear Alive, also in DC on October 30.  I have no idea how these two rallies will coincide but I’m sure there will be something for everybody and, unless you viewpoint is at one of the far ends of the political spectrum, it will be provide more than a few laughs.

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They showed the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors on television last night.  It’s always an interesting show, highlighting the careers of some of the most enduring and venerable performers and entertainers.  A virtual who’s who of our culture over the last half century.

For me, this years group of honorees was as good as it gets across the board.  You had high culture with operatic hero Grace Bumbry, jazz culture with the ever hip piano of Dave Brubeck, rock and roll with Bruce Springsteen, the world of comedy from Mel Brooks and the ultimate in dramatic acting from Robert De Niro.  What an incredible group.

One of the highlights for me was the absolute look of joy on Dave Brubeck’s face as his four sons joined in to play a medley of his compositions.  The night fell on his 89th birthday and he seems to be a testament to the longevity of those who are able to follow their passion.  I don’t know squat about jazz but what I feel is that Brubeck’s work has appeal across the spectrum of listeners out there.  There’s enough stellar playing and complicated rhythms to satisfy real jazz fans yet it’s incredibly accessible to the less savvy, like me.  Great stuff.

Of course, the other was the tribute to Bruce Springsteen.  I’ve been a big fan for well over 30 years and it’s been interesting to see how he has transformed into an elder statesman of  popular music.  I think that Jon Stewart hit it right on the head for me when he spoke of Bruce’s willingness to empty the tank for his audience every night as being the thing that most struck him and influenced him as a young fan.  I know seeing Bruce when I was younger made me hungry to find something, anything, that would make me feel that same passion and commitment in my own life.  Something where, like Bruce, I could give everything I had.  The medium wasn’t important.  It was all about the spirit of the effort, the total dedication to your own vision.  That is always in the back of mind when I see him, even today.

I remember writing a letter in the 70’s (long before e-mail) to Dave Marsh, the Rolling Stone editor who had just written an early bio of Bruce, describing how the music affected me.  I was working in a factory and couldn’t see anything on the horizon but when I listened to Bruce I was no longer a loser, a factory drone.  I had hope.  It was very much how Jon Stewart described his own experience.  Marsh responded with a lovely handwritten letter, that I still prize today, telling me how he was moved by my letter.  That, too, served as inspiration to search further, to give more.

Thanks, Bruce, for the inspiration.  You deserve this honor…

Here’s nice version of My City of Ruins from night’s show, performed by Eddie Vedder.  Enjoy.

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balloon-colorado-4_1503163cThis morning, for the first time in a long time, I was pleased with the coverage my local newspaper gave a story.  It was the story of a possible lost child and  a weather balloon of sorts.  As a local story, it had some interesting aspects.  As a national story it deserved no more attention than a small report in the back of the paper or a short line or two on the crawl across the bottom of the television screen.

My local paper got it right.  Just a few paragraphs and a picture on the back of one  section.  No big deal.

The national press,  however, went insane yesterday and gave us positive proof that they have no self control, no will to vet a story for its value on a national stage.  Yesterday afternoon, all of the 24/7 news outlets devoted hours of coverage to this story, following this ridiculous balloon every step of the way.  Interviews with neighbors.  Interviews with people from Wife Swap, the reality TV show on which the family had appeared.  An endless rundown of the father’s life.

Hours and hours.  All the other news swept aside by this stupid, silly balloon story.

The NBC Evening News opened with the story and devoted nearly 5 minutes of their 20 -22 minutes to it.  With everything that is going on in the world, they devote the first quarter of their show to a little boy hiding in his attic and his irresponsible father’s supposed runaway balloon.  This is the level that we’ve come to expect from those who bring us our news and information.

It’s infuriating.  The other night Jon Stewart, on The Daily Show,did a segment on CNN‘s devotion to fact-checking a Saturday Night Live skit as compared to the way they do absolutely no fact-checking on the talking heads who come on their shows and spout off numbers to back their causes.  It made me realize how totally unqualified the hosts on these shows are to really be able to interview any of their guests with any depth or comprehension.  Stewart is a comedian on a faux news show and is eminently more qualified and better prepared  than most, if not all, of these Barbies and Kens.  They almost always end their interviews with the most cogent questions dangling there, waiting to be asked.  No real info can be extracted when they haven’t a clue what they’re talking about.

And then it’s off to a car chase in El Segundo…

If you’d like to see Jon Stewart’s segment, click here.

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William Kamkwamba 2009Last night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart interviewed a young man from Malawi in Africa by the name of William Kamkwamba, who has recently published a book.  The book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, tells his story of how as a 14 year old boy in famine devastated malawi, with more adversity than anyone should face at such an age, decided to build a windmill so that his family might have electricity to run lights and give then running water.

Kamkwamba had went to school for a while until the famine fully hit his family’s meager farm, at which point his parents could no longer afford the 80 dollar annual tuition.  Left with only a few textbooks and a small library funded by the US government, he set to work building the windmill after having seen a picture of one in a book.

With absolutely no resources, he scavenged bits of tractor parts, pieces of wood and metal and eventually built a working windmill.  He designed and built switches and circuit breakers for his system that , while crudely built from found common objects in a way that Jon Stewart equated as being MacGyver-like, were testaments to the power of desire and human creativity.

He has subsequently built other windmills for his village and  word of the young man’s drive and intelligence spread.  With financial assistance,  he is currently here in the US studying for his SATs and hopes to use his education to further help his countrymen.

How can you not be touched by a story like that?  It makes me realize how important desire and drive is in the creative process especially when the circumstances are dire.  I think many of us have lost that inventive, manically forward driving spirit and I have no idea how we can regain it.  But William Kamkwamba’s story gives me hope and let’s me know that the human spirit to overcome is definitely alive.

Check out his book and story at his blog by clicking on the book cover above.

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jon-stewartI normally don’t have two posts in the same day but I had to comment on a story I just read where, in an online poll taken by Time  (click on to see the results and map), Jon Stewart prevailed as the most trusted newsman in America.  And not by a small margin.  He topped the closest newsman, NBC’s Brian Williams, by a whopping 15%.  

I had written in an earlier post how sad it was that with the passing of Walter Cronkite went the idea of having a newsman who acted as our conscience, who tried to give us the news in a way that best served our needs as a country.  After writing that, I realized that sadly, the only person who might fit this niche was Jon Stewart.  He skewers hypocrisy from both sides and doesn’t seem beholden to any group or ideology.  Oh, there’s a liberal bias but it is tempered with common sense and an idea of right and wrong.  

He also brings a sense of respect for each side to the debate at hand.  It’s not unusual to have representatives from either side of any debate and never does it devolve into a screechfest.  But at the same time there is often real info and real commentary passed along.

While I don’t know if this a good or thing, it should serve as an example to those who finished below Stewart.  I think somewhere right now, Walt is smiling.

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