Kudos to Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert for keeping the pressure on Arizona Senator John Kyl for his gross indecency on his non-factual claim made on the Senate dais during last week's budget showdown that abortion services are "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.” In fact, abortion represents only three percent of Planned Parenthood services.

After Think Progress pointed out the glaring factual error, a Kyl spokesperson said that the Senator's remark on the dais of the Senate "was not intended to be a factual statement, but rather to illustrate that Planned Parenthood, an organization that receives millions of taxpayer dollars, does subsidize abortions.”  How a Senator, and who as the Minority Whip is the number two in the Republican leadership in the Senate, could go on the dais of the Senate make such an outlandish statement and then hide behind the even more buffoonish defense that such a falsehood was not intended to be a factual statement is reprehensible. Senator Kyl merits a formal reprimand from the Senate. Facts are not just stubborn things, they should be sacrosanct.

After skewering Senator Kyl on his show, The Colbert Report, the comedian has taken to Twitter with a series of non-factual statements about the junior Senator from Arizona.

No less egregious, boy I am overusing this word these days but what isn't egregious these days, was the claim made by the anchors of Fox & Friends that Planned Parenthood's services could be found at any Walgreens. While the right has long been prone to untruths, the lies are getting more desperately and patently absurd. Let's hope the American people are paying attention.

Still I've been monitoring the Arizona press and while the story has been carried in both the Phoenix and Tuscon newspapers, neither paper has come out with an editorial lambasting the Senator Kyl for his blatant disregard for facts. It's a sorry state of affairs when late night comedians have to do the work that the media should be doing, lambasting what is clearly unacceptable in a political debate. If we abandon the truth, what else have we?

Parodies and the Public: Is Everyone so Gullible?

Fox Nation readers confuse Onion article with real news

I’m not really a pundit, I just play one on the web. And on occasion, commensurate with my faux punditly duties, I write a parody post. I may do this as a commitment to one of my core principles, “Scorn is mightier than ignorance”, or I might be bored or ready for a rant or just because I want to have a little fun – a pundit’s work is never done.

However, one of the consistent things about these parodies is that they always draw some proportion of people who actually believe them. One a few months back required me to add a disclaimer for fear open warfare would break out between the people who believed it was real and defended its “truth” and the people who believed it was real and tried to refudiate it.

Refudiate something that wasn’t true. Odd concept that.

Causing an Ideological War of the Worlds
I like to think I can sling a pithy narative as well as the next guy – certainly better than Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh – but, I find it hard to believe that my parodies are so great and realistic I might accidentally cause some sort of an ideological War of the Worlds.

I used to be mildly pleased by this. Ha ha, look how I pulled the wool over their eyes! It made me feel superior in the same way watching Jerry Springer makes me feel superior. I may be a goob, but at least I’m not an uber-goob who takes DNA tests to prove which of the 37 trailer park coquettes he’s been banging carries his child (it turns out about 34).

But as I rack up my tally of rubes, I’ve begun to wonder about the wider implications.

Our national discourse has become so rancorous and full of outright lies and gross distortions, you can’t even make things up anymore. People actually believed my  piece on the affair between Suzanne Malveaux and George Bush. Ditto my recent piece covering the Tea Party’s outrage over Obama pardoning Thanksgiving terror turkeys.

This may explain the popularity of  The Daily Show or Stephen Colbert‘s testimony to Congress. We know people watch those shows for their news, but the assumption that viewers understand they’re seeing imaginary news may be too broad.

The REAL Thanksgiving
Even when people watch mainstream news outlets like Fox, their common sense takes a powder. As I write this, Rush Limbaugh is pontificating on how the Indians scammed us on Manhattan and the pilgrims failed because they were socialists, a view supported by an honest to God US Congressman.

There was a day when that would’ve caused most people to shake their heads and think, “DAMN, there are a lot of imbeciles.” These days it draws a yawn, and in a truly troubling number of cases, more people who believe the blatant fantasies.

One of the core principles of the Founding Fathers was that of a well informed electorate. For example, believing horses could talk would at least cause the Founders to question your critical thinking skills. Today, pro-horse talking and anti-horse talking factions would form, there would be rancorous debate, and new laws enacted that both forbade and supported talking horses as a dozen different talking horse lobbies demanded.

We may have become too stupid and gullible to vote, particularly when the people we vote into office think the pilgrims failed because they were socialists. I’m tempted to write a parody about this, but it’s impossible.

There’s not enough believable reality left to craft a decent faux reality.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!



What We Restored Sanely and Kept Alive Fearfully

(crossposted on MyFDL)

I, like most people, had no real concrete idea of what The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was to entail when we packed ourselves onto the D.C. metro cars early Saturday morning.  My expectations were high for the event, and I assumed I would be surrounded by open-minded free-thinking individuals whose passion for such an event was as wholesome as mine.  I was not disappointed.

Feeling guilty for complaining about the miniscule hour drive to the Shady Grove metro station, there were groups of people bussed from Oklahoma, New York, Los Angeles, and everywhere in between.  I hauled my sleep-deprived butt out of bed at the unfamiliar hour of 4 a.m. to attend what I hoped would certainly be a fulfilling day of cooky signs, facetiously witty humor, and maybe some cupcakes.

My expectations were blown away (except the cupcakes, I never found any…)

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are two alternating comedic personalities who have managed to garner some clout when it comes to events such as this and media cavalcades alike.  Upon the heels of Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor Rally, one looked down highly upon from the “left-of-center” audience, Stewart and Colbert cooked up their respective rallies in what most thought to be a moderate response to Beck’s piss and moan festival.  Contrary dear reader, it was not. Err… well not directly so to speak.

So what were we rallying and marching for Saturday in the nation’s capital?  The answer is what you make of it.  Here’s what I made of it.

Fortunately, a good friend scored an extra VIP pass so I managed to see the stage and be very close to the action.  What I saw, for the most part, ended up being good bands, great comedy, and a very selfless awards ceremony.  It was not until Stewart’s final speech that I felt truly enlightened and knew what the purpose of this gathering was.

Stewart gave an impassioned speech, lined with some comedic instances, that truly spoke to the thousands (CBS estimated 250K) of people in attendance.

The message:  We are Americans, we are diverse, we will never all agree, but we are one people.   The political discourse in this country has grown to such immense proportions, and not only just the partisan divide but the division of people in general has multiplied to great proportions.  Why are we here?  To show a sane, moderate, reasonable attitude and prove to people that we can unite as peaceful terms.  We are not Democrats, Republicans, Liberals, Conservatives, Blacks, Whites, Jews, Atheists, Christians, Muslims; We are Americans.  We are working together every day to get things done as Stewart pointed out.

I’ve never been so taken by any one speech in my life.  Maybe I’m a sap, or maybe just a naive college student,  but Stewart’s speech was something so unreal.  Jon Stewart was not a comedian on Saturday.  He was not a Television personality, former supporting actor to Adam Sandler in Big Daddy, or the author of two best-selling books.  Jon Stewart was one of us.  Not a creepy Christine O’Donnell type one of us, he was truly just like us.

Is this an over dramatization of the rally?  I don’t think so.  Some may read this and see these words as just that of an amped up latte-sipping liberal college student and his rants about some hip event he went to.  I hope there is more depth to it than this.  This event is honestly something I’ll tell my children about; something I went to and witnessed.  No, it will not gain the notoriety of the Million Man March (nor should it), or the numbers of Obama’s Inauguration, but it was something that was necessary, awesome, and inspiring.

“We work together every damn day to get things done in this country.”



Colbert Congressional Testimony: The Truthiness of the Matter

Polls suggest large swaths of the country get their news from faux newsers Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Well, except the far righties who get their news from the faux newsers on Faux News, but that’s a whole other post.

It’s no wonder, Stewart is less biased than most real anchorbots and he’s a master at repeatedly demonstrating that technologically-challenged politicians still don’t get the concept that video never goes away.

Damn that infernal TV contraption!

Colbert – who isn’t a Republican, but plays one on TV – refers to the “truthiness” of his news, which is an unfair assessment. His news is usually far more truth(FULL) than the “real” stuff.

That might be the reason Colbert is scheduled to testify before the House Immigration Subcommittee on Friday.

He’ll appear in character to testify about his experiences after interviewing United Farm Workers President, Arturo Rodriguez, on his show. Rodriguez invited the President of the Cobert Nation to participate in the UFWs Take Our Jobs Initiative – a program that asks regular American softies to apply for jobs as farm workers. The UFW provides training to erstwhile farm workers so they can replace immigrants in the fields. It’s meant as a not-so-subtle bit of hyperbole to answer claims that farm workers are stealing American jobs.

“Somehow, undocumented workers are getting as much blame for our economic troubles as Wall Street, but missing from the immigration debate is an honest recognition that the food we all eat at home, in restaurants and work-place cafeterias, including those in the Capitol, comes to us from the labor of undocumented workers,” Rodriguez said. “According to the federal government, more than 50 percent of the workers laboring are undocumented.”

I once knew a man who traveled all over the world after his retirement as an air traffic controller to play amateur migrant farm worker. He picked oranges in California, avacados in Australia, and tomatoes in Wisconsin. He even had the business cards to prove it. But, that’s a whole other post too.

I’m sure Colbert’s testimony will be just as hilarious as say, Alberto Gonzales’ “I’m sorry, but I can’t recall that particular felony Senator” deny-a-thon during the Bush the Lesser™ administration. However, it’s still a sad state of affairs that Americans have so monumentally wigged out over issues like immigration that we’re better off depending on a comedian to tell us the truth – at least a different “truth” than Jan Brewer can muster.

What’s next the cartoon version of the Constitution?

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

Union challenges the Colbert Report to take on immigrant farmworker jobs

From Restore Fairness blog

Last night, talk show host Stephen Colbert took on the United Farm Workers (UFW) union offer calling on jobless citizens to replace immigrant farmworkers. Their "Take our Jobs" campaign calls on unemployed U.S. citizens to apply for farm worker jobs and harvest the summer's lettuce, peach and grape crops.

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