Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Colbert’

Breaking AbbeyTonight’s the much anticipated American debut of Downton Abbey‘s third season.  I know that I’m looking forward to get my fix of the drama following the family and serving staff of a huge British manor as it struggles, financially and socially,  through the changing times around World War I as the era of the great landed estates nears its end.

Speaking of needing a fix, a few weeks back, in response to his faux outrage over Michelle Obama getting a preview of the new episodes ahead of the general public,  Stephen Colbert presented a video featuring three of the main characters from the series in a parody.  They were supposedly reading lines from the upcoming season of Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad, the series dealing with the story of a  science-teacher-turned-meth-kingpin.  If you’re a fan of either series, or both like me, you may get a kick out of this uncensored mash up.  Maybe they can next do a Homeland/Mad Men version with Carrie and Saul carrying out the parts of Don Draper and Roger Sterling?

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Uncensored – Breaking Abbey
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

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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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When I first heard the term trickle down used to describe supply-side economics, the idea that giving tax-relief to those at the highest income levels will cause them to create more jobs for those in the economics classes below them, I was around twenty years old.  I was working in a factory where the management was constantly striving to get more and more from its workers for less and less.  There was no sense of any sort of paternal feeling from this company. 

 Their job was to extract the most financial return from us at the lowest possible expense. 

I had no problem with this concept.  That is just a fundamental of business. 

But I knew that without the protection of our labor union and governmental agencies like OSHA, they would pare away at us without mercy.  They would pay us less and less.  They would change job specs to require less and less manpower, to the point where many jobs became exceedingly difficult and dangerous.  It was a neverending  struggle to maintain our status quo,  to keep a fair, decent wage and a safe workplace,  against their onslaught.

So when I heard about the trickle down theory, I was somewhat suspect.  Even at that age, with little life experience, I could see what would happen.  Oh, there would be a tiny trickle in the form of a few jobs but most of the cash would go into the coffers of those at the top and stay there.  They were at the top because they had a drive to continually make more and more.  Giving them more wasn’t going to make them spend more.  It would only serve to whet their appetite for even more wealth and power.

It seemed so obvious.

Now , the term is being bandied about again as the talk of the day turns to extending the Bush Tax Cuts of the early part of the decade.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t enjoy paying taxes any more than the next guy.  But the wealthiest 3% of the population are paying less now than at any point in the last 70 years.  The real income of the average American has been flat for over 20 years yet the growth rate for this top level over this same time period has been astronomical, creating a wealth gap between the haves and have-nots that rivals the days of the robber barons.  Our national deficit is growing  and there is a need to raise revenues.  Oddly enough, many of the same deficit hawks who think it is our number one economic priority at this point to cut our deficit are calling for the Bush Tax Cuts to be extended.  I say oddly because this will add a cool trillion dollars or so to our deficit.

You can’t have it both ways, folks.

It’s always perplexed me how this concept of giving money to the wealthy will somehow benefit the lower classes and over the decades since I have seen no proof that this works in any way.  Interestingly, yesterday on CNBC I saw one host, Erin Burnett, interviewing a proponent of extending the tax cuts , ask him if he had any proof, any real data,  that this idea of trickle down economics had ever worked.  He was at a loss for words and basically said no but taxes are bad.  You see, that’s the problem.  This is a theory that doesn’t work but is easy to sell to the masses by simply spouting the taxes are bad mantra over and over, even though the masses are little affected by the relatively small tax raises in the higher brackets.  There was a good article on the Financial Times of London’s website from Martin Wolf  called The Political Genius of Supply-Side Economics.  Very good read.

If you’re not sure how trickle down economics work, here a little primer from Stephen Colbert:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word – Ownership Society
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election Fox News

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jonstewartevisceratescnbcsantellionLong night.  Epic television, ending with seeing the Syracuse Orange finally overcome the Connecticut Huskies in 6 overtimes.  At the end, the teams were so exhausted that at times they looked like they were on the Bataan death march.  Great, great game- an instant classic.

But the highlight of the night was not a slam dunk or a buzzer-beater.

On Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, host Jon Stewart gave CNBC money guru Jim Cramer a basic cable ass-whipping.  He dressed him down from the very beginning and never let up.  But it was a controlled, logical beatdown, not the hyperbolic confrontations we’ve become so accustomed to seeing on politically-based cable television.

I’m not going to go into every detail of the interview as it’s available online and should be seen in full.  Stewart basically called out CNBC and Cramer for their complicity in enabling those who would sell the  safety of the long-term investments of multitudes of investors for a short-term windfall.

Cramer’s defense was tepid at best, leaving my wife to finally turn to me and say, “What a pussy.”

It’s a sad commentary that such an important and serious discussion has to be addressed on Comedy Central.  Maybe this points out the need for more regulation in the financial sector.  What I mean by this is that journalism should be self-regulating by its very nature but when it is compromised to reperesent the interests of one group over another, it no longer  serves its intended function and, in fact, becomes detrimental.  If journalism cannot maintain a degree of self-regulation then how can anyone expect the financial world to do so?

Even today, there has been barely a mention of this much-touted showdown between Stewart and Cramer.  On CNN, when there was a mention the host still didn’t get it, portraying Cramer as merely a weatherman making forecasts.  

The difference is that the weatherman can’t manipulate the weather in the way that Cramer claimed he could manipulate the market as  a hedge-fund manager in a 2006 video.  That’s a big difference…

Sorry if this is a little disjointed.  I’m a little tired from a late night.  Anyway, I’ll leave you with a very funny parody of Glenn Beck from Stephen Colbert.  Here is……………THE DOOM BUNKER!

Go, Orange!

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