The Daily Show: A Weekly Overview

12/1-12/4

PROTESTING THE POLICE

                Much of the show this week dealt with the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, both unarmed black men killed by the police.  There have been protests across the country as a result, notably in Ferguson, MO and New York where the deaths took place.  In both situations grand juries chose not to indict the police officers involved for any wrongdoing.  The death of Garner seems more obviously upsetting because there was a video of the altercation and he clearly was not being violent towards the police.  Still, several police tackled him to the ground and continued to chokehold him, which led to his death.  He was even gasping for breath, shouting “I can’t breathe!” to the officers.  While Brown had robbed a store, and there was a physical altercation with the police officer Darren Wilson in which he may have reached for his gun, there was no such aggression showed by Garner.

Regardless of whether or not the grand juries made the correct decisions, both Brown’s and Garner’s deaths have sparked a long standing grievance that blacks feel they are mistreated by the police, particularly white officers.  The media has covered the deaths of Brown and Garner extensively both because the responses of the communities to the deaths and the fact that the stories make for good television talk about race.

One main point that I see that need to be addressed is how much prejudice the police have towards black men.  The disproportionate targeting of minorities with the stop and frisk policy in New York is one indicator that some prejudice exists, but it’s hard to quantify exactly.  The criminal activity of black men and the actions of police officers both have to be weighed in the matter.  Anytime an unarmed black man is killed by the police the media is going to cover the story and it is going to create controversy.  I’d like to see a deeper exploration done by the media other than covering the incidents.  In other words, it would be more informative if the conversation over race and the police could turn into more of an empirically based discussion than one that relies on the perceptions of talking heads, anecdotes, and singular incidents.

The other point that needs to be discussed is how the legal system deals with police officers.  Compared to civilians, police officers almost never get indicted for manslaughter or murder.  Obviously they need to have more ability to use deadly force given their job.  But if it becomes so hard to prosecute police officers that they almost never get indicted for anything, then there is no effective check on the police officers who do overstep their bounds.  How much discretion the law gives police officers is going to affect how grand juries will or won’t indict them on any charges.

At least in the case of Garner it seems on the surface absurd that no police officer was indicted.  Watching the video makes it clear that they basically gang tackled and suffocated Gardner when he wasn’t truly resisting arrest, but rather trying to plead with them that he wasn’t doing anything wrong.  Clearly the cases of Brown and Garner are not showing a new problem; they’re simply bringing to light once again a longstanding belief among the black community that they are unfairly harassed by the police.

BEST SEGMENT

                Wednesday’s coverage of the newly appointed ambassadors to Hungary and Argentina showed that cronyism is alive and well, and that apparently no one really cares about who the ambassadors are to those countries.  Colleen Bell, now the ambassador to Hungary, was a big time donor to Obama and a soap opera producer.  Even Obama’s press secretary Josh Earnest couldn’t spin her appointment as well deserved.  After being peppered with questions about her qualifications he said he “wasn’t part of the decision making process.”

BEST INTERVIEW

                Dave Grohl came by the show to talk about his HBO show which has him and the rest of the Foo Fighters visiting various U.S. cities to interview local musicians about the history of music in the cities.  It was interesting to learn that they spent six days in each city and gradually made a song by the end of each trip.  The concept for the project is a good enough reason to check out the show if you have HBO.

BEST MOMENT OF ZEN

                Tuesdays’ Zen moment was some commentary about how the Chinese government is now censoring the use of puns in the media.  I’m still confused by this.

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The Daily Show: A Weekly Overview

11/17-11/20

OBAMAMESS

                One of the more interesting and relevant issues brought up by the show this week was the continuing problems going on with Obamacare.  Jon Gruber, an Economics Professor at MIT who was one of the primary advisors in forming the Affordable Care Act, has become a thorn in the side of the Obama administration for his candidness.  Videos of him have been getting media attention in which he admits that the Obama administration always knew the individual mandate aspect of the law was a tax, but claimed it wasn’t because otherwise the bill would have become too controversial to pass.  They were able to maneuver the language of the law in such a way (exactly how I’m not sure) that the Congressional Budget Office didn’t consider the individual mandate a tax, while the only reason the law subsequently got upheld by the Supreme Court was because they ruled the individual mandate was within the taxing powers of the federal government and was therefore constitutional.

What happened in this situation was a classic case of politicians misleading the public, making something sound better than it was, to get fuller support.  Any logical person should know that you can’t expand health care coverage without taxing people.  How else would it get paid for?  The goal of the law is to allow more people to be able to afford insurance, which is done through subsidies and the mandate.  Both those things require money.  I don’t think Gruber’s comments revealed anything that wasn’t already settled by the Supreme Court, whether the individual mandate was a tax or not ended with their decision.  The confusion and controversy over the taxing involved in the law, as well as the upcoming Supreme Court case that will challenge the law with the claim its language indicates it should be run through state and not federal programs, shows that the Affordable Care Act has been a political mess.

For some reason providing health care to citizens is a political landmine in the U.S. but not any other industrialized nation.  I wonder when people will realize the only real feasible way to have universal coverage is by largely eliminating the private insurance companies and instituting price controls so the government can pay for everybody.  If you want universal care, it’s socialism or bust.  Trying it a different way, like Obamacare does by adding to the customer base of private insurers, makes it much more difficult to achieve that objective.  It also makes the process more complicated than it needs to be because it is attempting to provide more coverage through regulating a capitalistic system that maximizes profit by covering for fewer illnesses, and not covering those with little money to spend on an essential expense.

Thursday’s show covered the Keystone Pipeline, which will be one of the major bills in play once Republicans take over the Senate in January.  There is little to no doubt that Congress will be debating and coming up with a bill that allows for TransCanada Keystone Pipeline drilling.  The political tug of war between Obama and the Congressional Republicans will be one of the defining moments of his presidency.  If Obama passes the Keystone Pipeline, he will forever be a corporate Democrat who holds few if any liberal values.  The scientific consensus on climate change and its human cause, as well as the potential for environmental disaster, makes rejecting the Keystone Pipeline a no brainer for most liberals.  Making a major economic investment in fossil fuels over more sustainable resources will show that the country likely won’t tackle climate change for at least a few more decades, if ever at all.

BEST SEGMENT

                On Monday Jessica Williams covered the situation in Detroit where the city is turning off the water supply for citizens due to not paying the bills, but all of the local sports team stadiums haven’t paid either yet still have water.  The hypocrisy in the situation is so transparent that I’m a little stunned the city hasn’t found some way to work out a deal with its residents on such a basic essential like water.  Then again it is Detroit.

BEST INTERVIEW

                Monday’s interview with Laura Poitras on her documentary “Citizen Four” brought back to light the important but now largely ignored issue of Edward Snowden and his NSA leaks.  Personally I find it embarrassing that the country isn’t allowing Snowden back in.  He isn’t a traitor.  He acted as a whistleblower in a situation where the government was expanding its power greatly without any public input, oversight, or accountability.  Citizens deserve to know what the NSA is doing and it’s a dangerous precedent to set that anytime someone acts as a whistleblower their lives are subject to be ruined.  The fact that Snowden knew the dangers of his actions doesn’t mean we should have attitude that he’s gotten what he’s paid for.

BEST MOMENT OF ZEN

                Tuesday’s show ended with a clip of a highway in Indianapolis being plagued with accidents because no one over there knows how to drive in the snow.  It baffles me that people from the south are so inept with driving in the snow.  It’s as if they’re not aware it even exists before it starts blanketing the roads.

The Daily Show: A Weekly Overview

11/10-11/13

Rosewater

                Thursday’s show this week exclusively covered the story behind the upcoming Jon Stewart directed film Rosewater.  It really is amazing to think that something that started out as a comedic bit for a U.S. based show turned out to be the impetus for the torturing of journalist Maziar Bahari.  Obviously the Iranian government was looking for a reason to imprison him before Jason Jones interviewed him, given his advocacy for a more democratic state.  Still, to have the Daily Show be tied in with the incident and have it lead to a movie makes the story even more intriguing.  It also means the Iranian government failed miserably in their attempt to stifle Bahari’s activism.

One of the main focus points of this week’s shows was the 3,000 or so new troops being deployed to Iraq as advisors in the fight against ISIS.  I don’t know whether or not Jon Stewart is right in his assumption that at least a significant amount of these troops must be there to fight in all probability, or if these troops really will just be used to coordinate plans and train other groups of soldiers from Iraq to fight ISIS.  This seems to be a case where the definition of “advisors” is being used liberally.  Logically one would think that the troops will be there to help protect the Iraq border, and will jump in to do so if the groups they’re training can’t do the job.  Otherwise, it seems pointless to have them there.

It’s now been over a decade since the invasion of Iraq and still the country is in such a destabilized state that American leaders feel the need to send thousands of troops over to help fight back ISIS.  What’s happening now with ISIS and Iraq is largely a result of America overrunning the country and failing to bring about the democracy that was supposed to come after removing Saddam Hussein from power.  This point seems rather undeniable.  America has made an investment in Iraq and feels obligated to try and help the state during a continuation of its vulnerability.

I don’t see any reason to believe America won’t continue to have a military presence in Iraq so long as the country is struggling to establish rule, particularly with preventing terrorist actions.  The question is how likely it is that such a day will come when Iraq can do this themselves.  It’s hard to blame left-leaning people like Stewart who have been against most, if not all, of America’s actions in Iraq for being doubtful that America will be able to leave Iraq anytime soon.  It seems that America will have troops in Iraq for a long time moving forward, and the recent deployment of troops can be seen as a continuation of the Iraq war.  If the mission of establishing a secure democratic rule was finished they wouldn’t be going over there.

BEST SEGMENT

                On Monday Jordan Klepper’s investigation found that police departments are training their officers on how to avoid shooting dogs because people get much more upset about the shooting of animals than they do humans.  Dressing up like a dog as a means to be protected from the police was a nice touch at the end of the segment.  I guess the takeaway is that people just assume that if you get shot to death by an officer you must have committed a crime, therefore there’s no reason to feel bad about it.  How compassionate.

BEST INTERVIEW

                Thursday’s interview of journalist Maziar Bahari and actor Gael Garcia Bernal for the movie Rosewater gave good background to the story behind the film and promoted it well.  It was also a nice reminder that even though politics in America is easy to complain about, it’s still not nearly as bad as many other places.

BEST MOMENT OF ZEN

                Wednesday showed a clip of someone being interviewed on some local news outlet about being ticketed for not letting a person in a giant Donald Duck costume walk the crosswalk on Halloween.  The funny thing is that I don’t think the costume had anything to do with why drivers didn’t want to stop.  Hardly anybody stops for crosswalks, or at least never wants to, usually okay with passing on the responsibility of stopping to the next driver.  Also, the S200 plus dollar ticket for the offense is a worse crime than not stopping for a pedestrian.

The Daily Show: A Weekly Overview

11/3-11/6

The Democrats get “Old Yellered”

                The midterms came and went with the result being a Republican bloodbath, as they took the Senate and gained a stronger majority in the House.  Not only that, but some of the Republican candidates that won are young, minority, and gay, creative more diversity  within the party which is normally a strength of the Democrats.  The elections were a strong message that the country mostly doesn’t like what’s happened over the last few years and citizens placed the blame more on the President than the obstructionists he was working against.  That’s not surprising, given he is the face of not just the country, but the Democratic Party and the failure to create a functioning federal government.

It’s official that the Democrats are bad at politics.  At this point they have no real identity as a party; they’re inept salesman.  We know what the Republicans are: Guns and God.  Government is bad and so are taxes.  Spending in politics should be unlimited.  Fuck the environment, climate change is for losers and oil drilling is for winners.  Obama is a radical socialist piece of shit who’s led us nowhere.

But what are the Democrats?  They don’t stand strong behind efforts to curb carbon emissions causing global warming, or the increasing corporate spending in politics that is threatening to (if it already hasn’t) monopolize the control over our democracy.  Their biggest landmark achievement, the Affordable Care Act, has begun its implementation and increased insurance enrollment, yet they couldn’t find a good thing to say about it.  As Stewart pointed out, the strategy for the Democrats seemed to be don’t upset the conservatives who were already going to vote Republican rather than fire up all the more moderate and left leaning people to go to the polls and vote blue.

The Democrats and Obama realized they were vulnerable to losing a few Democrats in southern states and cowered to their already lost cause.  Who cares about them?  Even if losing the Senate was unavoidable this election, setting the precedent that the party has something to stand for will bode well for 2016 and beyond.  The gridlock that has taken place over Obama has virtually no chance of going away even if the Senate wasn’t lost.  In politics you have to define yourself and stand convicted that you’re a worthy commodity for voters to believe in and stand by.  Playing not to lose doesn’t achieve that.

BEST SEGMENT

                The live election coverage on Tuesday featured a bit with Jason Jones, Samantha Bee, and Rob Riggle that was poignant and funny.  The money won and ideas lost, while Riggle in a money costume said getting Democrats is more satisfying because they play “hard to get.”  His cameo was well done.

BEST INTERVIEW

                Thursday’s discussion with journalist James Risen dealt with the increasing security apparatus in the federal government that has managed to get away with deciding what is okay for journalists to cover in the post 9/11 era.  In other words, the days of the press being able to be a true watchdog is now over in the case of covering agencies like the NSA and CIA because they have the legal ability to get the Justice Department to persecute/harass disliked journalists whose jobs are becoming harder and more dangerous.  An increase in secretive, unaccountable government action in the realm of intelligence and national security correlated with a weakening of the fourth estate is the new reality for American democracy in the 21st century, and the balance of power has tipped so far it seems quite possibly irreversible.

BEST MOMENT OF ZEN

                On Wednesday the show ended with a clip of a kid crying because he didn’t get to vote, and he got even more upset when his parents told him some people didn’t vote who could have.  I wonder who he would have voted for, probably Republican because red is a way brighter color than blue.

The Daily Show: A Weekly Overview

10/27-10/30

A Week in Texas

                This week the show spent a week in Austin, TX, the city in the state that stands out as being a blue dot in a sea of red.  Many of the week’s segments played off the Texas theme and included jokes about Austin’s liberalism within the overall conservatism of the state.  Along those lines, a lot of the issues the show brought up were ones that are important to Texas, such as immigration.

What I found disappointing with the show was that when immigration was discussed Stewart and the correspondents played to the lowest common denominator, just picking fun at the far right hysteria of illegal immigrants taking over American jobs and basically stealing their way to becoming residents of the country.  Of course the show is trying to be funny, but it would have been nice if the actual problems with the immigration process and having so many undocumented people flooding the southwestern part of the U.S. were at least talked about.  What the show often does great with is talking about the things that are either ignored or oversimplified in the media and/or by politicians, and I think considering the show was in Texas this week Stewart and company missed a chance to delve a little more seriously into the longstanding issue of our immigration policy and its effects.

What the show did do a great job with was putting down the idea that somehow Texas is on the verge of becoming a blue state because of the increase in Hispanics and the increasing distrust women have in the Republican Party.  While those things are true, there isn’t enough of a politically organized and unified Democratic base that can go against the Republican Party machine in Texas.

The segment on Thursday with Samantha Bee highlighting that 5 out of the 6 representatives for Austin in the House are Republicans exemplifies the problem.  The Republicans in Texas control the political game; they’ve gerrymandered the districts and successfully played up the myth of voter fraud to limit minority (less likely to have an ID) and youth vote (your gun license is acceptable voter ID but your college ID isn’t).  Democrats generally don’t do a good job of getting their base to vote, or at the very least their base is less interested and/or able to vote.  Overcoming that challenge on top of the long existing political dominance of Republicans in the state is highly unlikely to happen any time soon.

BEST SEGMENT

                The segment on Monday dealing with Ebola summarized the entire problem with the perception of the outbreak.  First, the media has completely overblown the problem and it’s laughable that the media in countries like Ghana are much calmer about the situation despite being under much more threat of the virus.  Secondly, the quarantine approach and limiting air travel makes it more difficult for doctors to go over to African countries and try to stop the spread of the virus.  The worst thing that can happen is allowing the situation to become unmanageable in Africa.

BEST INTERVIEW

                The interview with Ellar Coltrane on Wednesday covered his film “Boyhood” which involved his whole childhood being captured over a twelve year process to make the movie.  I’m guessing everyone involved with making the film was praying that he didn’t turn into a complete weirdo and/or psychopath and cause everyone to get heat for subjecting him to that kind of surveillance.  He seems normal, but I wonder where his career goes from here because the film is such a unique example of acting.

BEST MOMENT OF ZEN

                On Monday there was a clip of a news anchor letting everyone know that in order to get Ebola from someone near you, they’d literally have to vomit or diarrhea and put it in your mouth.  That might have been better than Ron Burgundy telling San Diegans to go fuck themselves.

The Daily Show: A Weekly Overview

10/13-10/16

Bipartisan Hypocrisy

                Monday’s show opened with a series of clips of Democrats calling to reduce the money in politics, to end the “corrupt” effect it has on our political system.  The only problem with that message is that the Democrats have significantly outspent the Republicans so far during the midterm campaign, rendering their words meaningless as they’ve made no effort to practice what they preach.  Their use of asking for donations via email was highlighted, which oftentimes had laughably extreme pleas such as the subject headline “All Hope is Lost”, unless of course the person donates to the party.  Democrats would like to align themselves with the middle class and egalitarian values, but rely heavily on donations from the wealthy just like the Republicans do, the difference being Hollywood money versus business tycoon money.  You can’t expect the rules of the game to change when it’s benefiting both sides; it’s far better to be a liar than to be a loser.

On the Republican side, Thursday’s show had a segment featuring Jessica Williams which covered Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s conservative policies failing his state.  It turns out that lowering taxes hasn’t led to more jobs and more government revenue but rather citizens keeping more of their money at the expense of the state’s education and highway systems.  A prominent Republican group within the state has decided to endorse Democratic candidate Paul Davis as a result.

What’s hypocritical about policies that call for lowering taxes with the idea of somehow still raising state revenue is that such a policy is born from a desire to not sacrifice for the sake of the greater good, yet supposedly will create a desire within citizens to invest more money into the economy and therefore widen the tax base.  If the whole point of lowering taxes is for citizens to keep more of their money why would you assume they’ll reinvest the money they wanted to keep for themselves in the first place?  Why would people try to create a new business just for the sake of economic expansion?  People keeping more of their money won’t create more jobs when there’s no need for them.  The goal of lowering taxes is almost never to bring about more job creation through investment, it’s always been about people wanting to hold on to the money they have so the state can’t get it.

Best Segment

                Tuesdays’ segment on New York State’s 11th Congressional District race was a fine depiction on how politicians are largely assholes or guys who’ve paid their dues long enough to be in the spotlight.  Republican incumbent Michael Grimm threatened to throw a reporter off a balcony months ago for having the gumption to actually ask him about the 20 federal charges he faces on tax fraud and hiring illegal immigrants for his metrosexually named restaurant Healthalicious.  Democratic challenger Domenic Recchia is a babbling idiot who doesn’t belong anywhere near a microphone and needs a half hour of private prep from his consultants after a question to come back out in front of the cameras and reassert his lack of knowledge on anything.  Their upcoming election reminds me of being taught in elementary school how beautiful democracy is.

Best Interview

                Monday’s guest Matt Bai discussed the transformation the media has undergone from covering politicians about issues to also covering them about their personal lives.  The new age of tabloid political journalism has neutered the ability of anyone to run for office who is unwilling or unfit to play the game of speaking in a constant scripted manner to avoid controversy.  It’s a disturbing trend that presentation matters more than substance and according to Bai it has absolutely prevented intelligent people with bold ideas from running for office.  The good news is that we can look forward to another thousand questionably human politicians like Mitt Romney.

Best Moment of Zen

                The Vermont gubernatorial debate featured Republican Scott Milne, who said in his opening statement, “I’m a third generation born in Vermont” only to then clarify “take that back, I was born in Brooklyn.”  It may be hard to appeal to all the dairy farmers if they think you hail from a place where people walk around in skinny jeans and wear non-prescription glasses.

The Daily Show: A Weekly Overview

10/6-10/9

Honesty Hurts

                This week’s episodes highlighted the tricky problem of dealing with honesty in politics.  Tuesday’s show (which was hosted by Jason Jones) opened with a rundown of Joe Biden’s notorious political misspeaks, which are often just moments of him not following the PR script the Obama administration would like him to.  He criticized U.S. allies such as Turkey for selling weapons that eventually got into the hands of terrorist groups aligned with ISIS, weapons that were sold for their own political interests outside of funding the Syrian rebels and defeating ISIS.  Of course the business of weapons selling can go awry for any number of reasons, including that once weapons are sold to a militant group there’s no guarantee for the security of the weapons to stay within that group.  However, that’s not really the point of why Biden’s comments were significant.  The quick denial of U.S. allies for selling weapons and Biden’s immediate apology and backtrack would seem to suggest he misspoke, but he simply spoke the truth according to journalists who have covered the story.

The U.S. and its allies are trying to maintain the appearance of a united front, but their interests and commitment to diminish ISIS don’t seem to exactly match; the coalition may have a few leaks and disagreements within it.  This was further shown in Wednesday’s show which had U.S. officials saying that keeping Kobani, a Syrian city bordering Turkey, away from ISIS control was “not a top priority” despite its geographical location which logically would dictate it being a pretty high priority to maintain.  In the week or so since this statement the U.S. and its allies have upped their airstrikes in Kobani and had some success holding ISIS at bay.  It’s hard to tell what’s really going on with Biden and the Obama administration tripping over their words because they’re as much concerned with their message as they are the reality of the situation.

Samantha Bee’s segment on Tuesday covering the absence of data on police killings also shed a light on honesty in politics, although in a disturbingly humorous way.  Expert after expert in the field of criminal justice were interviewed, each saying how just about any statistic imaginable is kept on crimes and police action.  The only tiny missing information that has managed to slip through the cracks is the number of citizens killed each year by police killings because the federal law calling for such information doesn’t contain any language stipulating enforcement of the law.  It’s better to hide/ignore the truth than actually deal with a growing concern in America over the aggressiveness of law enforcement towards citizens.  Bee’s piece reinforced the perception that people within government are basically inept and unwilling/incapable of executing basic legislation.

Best Segment

                On Wednesday a segment focused on the GOP’s revamped effort to not seem out of touch with women by putting out ads of women trying on different wedding day dresses corresponding with politicians running for office.  Reinforcing the condescending stereotype that women are wholly consumed with relationships and fashion, even when considering politics, may not be the best way to show progression within the Republican Party.

Best Interview

                Monday’s interview with Atul Gawande primarily focused on how our healthcare system should be dealing with hospice situations.  It seems our own uncomfortableness with dealing with death leads us to have the mentality to try every last resort to avoid it rather than coming to terms with it and making life as comfortable as it can be leading up to it.  It was interesting to find out that studies show that patients actually live longer when they choose to stop cancer treatment when they personally feel its potential benefits are outweighed by the difficulty of going through it when the cancer is terminal.

Best Moment of Zen

                Tuesday’s show ended with a clip of a Canadian singer performing the national anthem on skates before a hockey game.  He was doing well until he tripped over a red carpet on the ice, which apparently no one thought would get in his way.  Seeing someone fall on their face produces an undeniably innate pleasure that luckily is only followed by guilt if the person is seriously hurt.

The Daily Show: A Weekly Overview 9/29-10/2

THE WAITING GAME OF CONGRESS

The show this past week did a good job detailing the deterioration of Congress that has plagued the country in recent years, with both the Monday and Tuesday shows opening with a skewering of Congressional inaction. Monday showed clips of British politicians actually debating on whether or not to join the U.S. and its allies in the fight against ISIS, instead of leaving it up to their executive branch to decide for the entire country in a unilateral decision. Even though the U.S. and Britain have different systems of governance that makes the two countries not an exact comparison, the segment still revealed a basic, disturbing truth about American politics: When it comes to foreign policy there oftentimes isn’t any debate or public discourse considered for decisions to be made.

Because foreign affairs are seemingly not as strictly bound to the Constitution and the lawmaking process as domestic issues, Congress’s ineptitude over the past few years has paved the way for President Obama to take charge in decisions such as the Libyan conflict, drone policy, and now the airstrikes against ISIS. I’m sure the president isn’t blameless either; he isn’t exactly calling for Congress to take the lead in such matters and limit his own power, but if Congress is unwilling to work together because of political reasons than major decisions that affect the United States’ standing in the world end up getting decided farther away from the influence of the citizenry. The power and execution of major actions by our federal government then becomes highly centralized, undemocratically so.

Tuesday depicted Congress’s problems well with the “How a Bill Becomes an Ad” skit. Congressmen are now in the habit of delaying votes on key issues to avoid controversy and will instead hold phony debates (such as the House’s never ending appeals on Obamacare) so they can say in a campaign ad that their opponent voted in the wrong direction on a talking point issue a bunch of times. This problem goes beyond what has become standard Republican obstructionism- it is a widespread shift in Congress that has politicians thinking it makes more sense to have a set strategy with a narrow agenda that plays it safe and avoids taking any chances. As long as incumbents keep getting voted back in for doing nothing the problem won’t change. Congressmen have abandoned trying to push hard for certain issues and beliefs in order to achieve something that can be sold as positive change for America; instead they’ve chosen to settle for avoiding the mistake of doing something they can get attacked for.

My guess is that the backlash from Obamacare that cost Democrats in the House following the 2010 midterm election is still haunting the party. It would be nice if the Democrats could stand stronger behind what they’ve done and what they believe in, choose to sell their ideology hard and consistently like the Republicans manage to do. Instead a lot of Democrats seem to have settled on being a milder, more digestible version of what the Republicans offer. With many Democrats trying to distance themselves from Obama as this year’s midterm election draws nearer, nothing new is being offered for the American people to consider, just the same waiting game of seeing which party is hated the least.

BEST SEGMENT

On Wednesday the coverage of the White House intruder was a phenomenal display of government incompetence. Apparently not only was there the recent incident of a man passing through security and entering into the White house, but it was also revealed that back in 2011 there was a shooting incident that wasn’t discovered by the Secret Service until four days after the fact. For a change Congress had some refreshingly good ideas, including using the uncomfortably sharp Spanish Bayonet plant as a crime deterrent, or a way to make someone eat a taco around your dick, if you happened to turn to the urban dictionary to look up what a Spanish Bayonet is.

BEST INTERVIEW

Thursday’s interview with Ben Steele on his documentary Hunted was a reminder that while homosexuality is becoming less and less taboo here in America, there is still widespread hate and ignorance directed at gays even in some developed countries like Russia. Steele’s description of the violence Russian vigilante groups will subject gays to, as well as the government’s assertion that homosexuality is linked to pedophilia, defies any logic but is unsurprising. The access he was able to get for his documentary makes me want to watch it and it was certainly ballsy of him to potentially put his own life in danger for the sake of telling an important story.

BEST MOMENT OF ZEN

On Thursday the clip was a tweet of Tesla CEO Elon Musk that read “time to unveil the D and something else”. Since then stock in his company has gone up, which proves his genius. Blatantly referencing your penis while also creating a mystery around it has the necessary shock value to stir up interest while remaining indirect, avoiding the unwanted controversy that would normally come with unveiling your D. Well played.

The Daily Show: A Weekly Overview

9/22-9/25

OPENING THOUGHTS

                In the last few weeks one of the big issues Jon Stewart has covered, as well as every major news network, is the current situation in the Middle East with the terrorist group ISIS.  The Tuesday show opened with a segment on the initial airstrikes America and its allies have conducted against the terrorist group which has become known for its beheadings and being too extreme for Al-Qaeda to endorse.  Besides the well done comedic bit on ISIS calling John Kerry an “uncircumcised old geyser” (it’s amazing how contentious the foreskin debate gets), the segment concluded with an appearance by Jessica Williams, who basically had the message that there are constantly new terrorists groups and the war on terrorism will never be over.

While that point seems historically true thus far, the takeaway from it is less obvious.  On the one hand, ISIS is brutally barbaric and a laissez faire approach to countering their militant ambitions would likely lead to them having more success.  On the other hand, adding to the violence of the region via drones and/or other airstrikes will inevitably lead to America killing innocent civilians (fueling anti-west sentiments), and also doesn’t offer any clear exit strategy.  Unless vulnerable regions in the Middle East (such as Iraq) become politically stabilized, there is a fertile ground for radicalization to take hold, whether it’s ISIS or another group.  Decimating ISIS offers no path to preventing subsequent bloodshed caused by another group; America has spent over a decade targeting and killing Al-Qaeda members and look where it’s gotten us.  It’s hard to justify doing nothing when you allow the depravity of ISIS to sink into your psyche, but it’s arguably just as hard to justify airstrikes that provide no framework for resolution beyond fucking up some bad dudes.  It’s a truly damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.

On the more humorous side, Wednesday opened with a segment that showcased campaign ads of Democrats proving they’re anti-Obama.  The highlights included back and forth political insults about shooting guns, the proper snow mobile driving technique to use in Alaskan territory prime for some oil drilling, and one of the ultimate “I’m just one of the people” moves I’ve ever seen a politician pull off: Assisting a college kid who likely gives zero fucks about the mid-term elections with a keg stand.  The saving grace of the exhaustive campaign cycle filled with regurgitated talking points is the splendid idiocy that politicians will display which allows The Daily Show to exist.  If they’re going to groove one right down the middle, Stewart might as well swing away.

BEST SEGMENT

                I have to go with Monday’s opening segment on climate change.  I couldn’t help but laugh when Stewart visually explained with a bowl of water and ice that there is a difference between ice cubes melting in a glass of water and what is happening with sea level rise, because apparently some politicians don’t know that glaciers are actually starting on land then melting into the ocean.

BEST INTERVIEW

                I was most intrigued by Tony Zinni on Tuesday talking about America’s foreign policy regarding the Middle East.  It’s refreshing to hear a person with a distinguished military background call the Iraq war unnecessary and question sending weapons to groups we don’t know that much about.  However, he did say that America has a “moral obligation” to act, which again opens up the unsettled debate of what exactly is the best course of action.

BEST MOMENT OF ZEN

                Monday’s show ended with a clip of some Fox News host finding a way to compare the security breach which allowed an intruder to enter the White House to Benghazi.  At a certain point you have to admire Fox News’s undying commitment to make Americans turn on Hilary Clinton and Obama over the Benghazi incident, which reminds me that Hilary will in all likelihood win the Democratic nomination for President in 2016.  I think the controversy will only die if she does, and even then I’m not sure.