Michael Maiello's picture

    Taking Care With Language, Part II

    I should probably take down my last post, since NCD eviscerated it with, of all things, a dictionary, but I've waded so far into the river of blood that we may as well keep on wading, especially after this insane Times column by Bret Stephens this morning where he puts language in some sort of complex chokehold to argue that Trump failing to immediately condemn white supremacy is really no different from Obama's failure to call out "Islamic Extremism" during his terms in office.

    Stephens thinks he is arguing for linguistic clarity by demanding that leaders call out evils in specifc terms.  That's hard to argue with. But, as is so often the case, the criticism in this case misses Obama's larger point.  Were Obama president now, he would be able to more easily equate acts of domestic terrorism with acts of terrorism that emanate abroad because Obama never tied terrorism directly to Islam. To Obama, an IRA car bomber, an Al-Qaeda car bomber and an ISIS car bomber are all car bombers. It's the unjust violence that most distinguishes them from other humans, not their culture, religion or heritage.

    That aside, you really can't hold Obama and Trump as equivalents in this regard.  Obama was not elected with wide ranging grass roots support from ISIS and Al-Qaeda members, nor did he give ISIS and Al-Qaeda celebrities jobs in his campaigns or administration. Trump did enjoy grass roots support from the alt-right and he did give their celebrities jobs in both his campaign and his administration. Obama's Dad was never arrested at some American flag burning rally in Tehran.  Donald's dad was arrested at a klan rally. Nobody ever seriously accused Obama of trying to implement Shariah law. Donald has been credibly accused of using Jim Crow tactics to prevent people of color from renting at his properties.

    Man, Bret Stephens is bad at columning.




    Easy to criticize from the peanut gallery. I'd like to see you compose a well-reasoned and coherent column, week after week, promoting the intellectually bankrupt and internally contradictory nonsense espoused by the so-called conservative movement. It's hard out here for a Sophist.

    He could always get a real job like the rest of us and blog on the side.

    What? And leave poor David Brooks to babble pseudo-sociology all by his lonesome?

    Yeah, must be tough to put together such an amalgam of pseudo-science/politico almost compassionate gobbledy-gook for $90k a column or whatever he makes.

    Sophist's Choice?

    Your last post was educational, the two main meanings of tragedy, one theatrical related and one real world devastating, were not clear to me and probably others.

    I saw the Bret title and without reading it am considering canceling my 1/2 price subscription. They transfer you to a supervisor, and act very concerned when you do so.

    I assumed it was another NYT enabled 'both sides' BS right wing diversion, a ridiculous GOP excusing feint, as you point out.

    Stephens is a Haver of an Opinion$ who the NYT employs (like David Brooks) to reassure the editors, that there are very practical, concerned, rational well spoken, socially concerned philosophers on the right.

    Not the overflowing stinking cesspool of ignorant, idiots and racists you see at Trump rallies, the liars and misogynists at Fox News, the hate spewers of hate radio, and the grifting billionaire sociopaths, con artists and frauds who bankroll and profit from the organized crime syndicate called the Republican Party.

    I don't remember the leaders of the Islamic State applauding Obama's speeches as dog whistle support for their campaigns of murder and mayhem. Or Obama condemning the violence "on all sides" in Mosul. 

    Although I'm sure they did and he did, because why else would the New York Times publish a piece equating Obama's tergiversation with Trump's?

    I tried googling it, but for some reason my google is broken. All it gave me as results for the query "Islamic State applauds Obama speech" was the following:

    ISIS, Al Qaeda celebrate Trump victory with memes - NY Daily News


    Nov 9, 2016 - Islamic terrorist organizations including Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and the ... VIDEO: Trump, Obama sit down in historic White House meeting.

    Have the left-wing terrorists broken Google too? Just frightening. 


    I love that!

    Stephens exhibits the flexibility the Mooch admired in Bannon.

    One other false equivalence to add is that there is not a majority of white supremacists who actively disassociate themselves from the intimidation displayed at the rally. All that can be heard from their bunkers is Trump repeating: "It didn't used to be like this."

    One difference between David Brooks and Stephens is that Brooks tries to be intellectually respectable .

    It's boring I know but as I wrote here Stephens violated  a rule of rational discourse when he quoted Kenneth Arrow to support a point  when Arrow's  words made it clear  he didn't agree.  Brooks would scorn doing that. 


    I agree with you, but note that many others find Brooks extremely insincere. Don't really understand why that is. I think his views are nearly always well worth reading, and reflect his incredibly intellectually and culturally diverse background, which I only recently learned from Wikipedia

    Brooks was born in Toronto, Ontario—his father was working on his PhD in Canada at the time—and spent his early years in the middle-income Stuyvesant Town housing development in Lower Manhattan. His father taught English literature at New York University, while his mother studied nineteenth-century British history at Columbia University. Although his family was Jewish, Brooks himself is not religiously observant.[6][7][8][9] As a young child, Brooks attended the Grace Church School, an independent Episcopal primary school in Greenwich Village. When he was 12, his family moved to the Philadelphia Main Line, the affluent suburbs of Philadelphia. He graduated from Radnor High School in 1979. In 1983, Brooks graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in history.[1] His senior thesis was on popular science writer Robert Ardrey.[9]

    I disagree with most of his political views but I like Brooks. I don't think he's insincere. He's a republican so he'll spin a bit for his side but he's honest about the things he believes. Brooks, or George Will, could come here and engage in reasoned debate. There would be some interesting discussions and minds might occasionally be changed. Brooks can admit when he's wrong and while he doesn't do it as often as I think he should he can criticize his own side..

    Unfortunately when a republican comes here it's always someone like Coulter or Hannity. It's really a waste of time to even attempt dialog with someone like that.

    Coulter and Hannity are very much professional trolls! While someone like Kellyanne is a professional spinmeister. I would argue that's a significant difference. Kellyanne doesn't discuss, she spews propaganda. Coulter and Hannity are not into discussion, but hey are more into riling everyone up than just propaganda, they are trolls, agitators. Rush Limbaugh doesn't discuss either, but he's different again, he preaches. For three hours he preaches. The few times I heard him let listeners talk, he often is very dismissive and lectures them, it's almost sado-masochism with his fans.

    Yes, it's true GOP people have been trained very badly in communication over the past three decades, and it's hard to for MSM or even a lowly news blog, to find a good one. All the more reason to be open to them when they show up somewhere, as they must have extra talent not to be affected. As John McCain advised in his recent speech: stop listening to bombastic loudmouths on the radio.

    P.S. Comes to mind one of the reasons I am not a Rachel Maddow fan is because she preaches and lectures too much, though I might agree with her p.o.v., hate the modus operandi. When she does interviews or has to chair a group of analysts, she is far more interesting.

    I think you've nailed the differences between these major republican spokes persons. Perfect in a thread about being careful in the use of language.

    This entire discussion strikes me right away this way: as an always agnostic and sometimes aetheist, I am ashamed of myself in using the religious word evil without irony quotes recently, I am going to do it no more. I believe in nuance. No "evils" are equivalent, none of them, they are all different.

    I see  Stephens, Trump, and yes Obama, too, all as using "evil" as a political tool, a bludgeon really. It's not lack of linguistic clarity, rather it's brutal clear use of linguistics to cause imposition of manichean thinking. Which has got us to the deeply divided society we are today.

    I thought people like Hannah Arendt, Simone Weil and Dostoyevsky settled all this long ago. That's where I am staying. I especially like this cross link from that piece Dostoyevsky on Why There Are No Bad People. With one exclusion: the only bad people are those who try to demagogue about supposed evils for political effect. They know not what they do: enormous damage.

    Edit to add: really sick of all the groups demagoguing it about other groups being evil. The human race will get nowhere as long as that goes on. We now have this great tool called the internet that was supposed to offer nuance and understanding, and instead people use it to denigrate other groups as "racists" or "commie Bernie liberals" rather than understand them and what they are up to as individuals.

    More to the point, calling people "evil" excuses their awfulness. It's an avocation, not a condition. Except that Brooks fellow - his Canadian upbringing makes him a pretty tough nut to forgive.

    read further on Brooks, believe it or not, he seems to have experienced everything of which he often speaks, Mr. Lifestyle Investigator hisself:

    Early career

    Upon graduation, Brooks became a police reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago, a wire service owned jointly by the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times.[1] He says that his experience on Chicago's crime beat had a conservatizing influence on him[9] In 1984, mindful of the offer he had received from Buckley, Brooks applied and was accepted as an intern at Buckley's National Review. According to Christopher Beam, the internship included an all-access pass to the affluent lifestyle that Brooks had previously mocked, including yachting expeditions; Bach concerts; dinners at Buckley's Park Avenue apartment and villa in Stamford, Connecticut; and a constant stream of writers, politicians, and celebrities [....]

    calling people "evil" excuses their awfulness. It's an avocation, not a condition.

    Exactly; the devil did not make them do it.

    First of all, I have never seen a suit from 1970 that looked that good! 

    Secondly, I find you and PP's take on evil new and odd. The idea that it's an implicitly exculpatory qualification. To me it serves to make clear that we aren't just talking about another bad or selfish policy view. Apparently Mnuchin and Cohn for instance are happy to work with Trump on tax reform and infrastructure while disagreeing with Trump on whether Jews should be exterminated. To call something evil is to call it non-negotiable. I think that's Kant was trying to get at with his categorical vs hypothetical imperatives. 

    It's whether an innate quality vs a developed one - nature vs. nurture. These guys weren't born assholes - they had to work hard at it to succeed. But even then, they're not Idi Amin, not even American Psycho - they're this sucky self-absorbed pampered version of Riggers Wid Attitude.

    Aw shucks, just a bunch of poor misguided kids, tryin' to learn how to correctly plow through a crowd of pedestrian commies. 

    Intelligent Canadian conservatives are not so hard to find.  There may even be some lurking in Dagblog...

    Hah! So true!

    Let me get serious for a minute: this is why I think we need more political parties and a more parliamentary system.  Maybe I should be the one saying: I wanna move to Canada. Civilized! Non Manichean! Bob and Doug McKenzie as the worst example of white working class males....

    which gets me back to the real question: why does David Brooks make some liberals so mad? Because he won't stand up, be a man and fight? So he tries mealy mouth stuff sometimes, so what?

    Yes, I've fallen into this trap, too.  People have been behaving in all sorts of ghastly ways. But, it's funny, of the "unacceptable" opinions in the Stephens piece, the one that struck me as most defensible is that the kid who murdered Heather Heyer with his car did seem to have a completely messed up life leading up to this choice, including losing his father at a very young age, having a parapalegic mother and (Stephens doesn't mention this) possibly intreated schizophrenia.

    It is a lot easier to yell "evil" and be done with it, isn't it?  As soon as you look at all closely, complexity emerges. But, as you say, it's a bad way of thinking if you want a more compassionate society.

    At some point it might be useful to go into "evil". Somehow two days after her death deprived Heather Heyer of whatever she planned to be her life ,it's still too soon.The driver did something he shouldn't have done. That doesn't end the discussion forever.  But tonight it's time to just feel sad.

    At some point it might be useful to go into "evil"

    If you are religious, I guess. "At some point" makes me fine with that. Where after a thoughtful interval, the religious mind makes a judgment about "evil". But like I said, I think Arendt, Dostoyevsky et. al. handle it so much better than the Manichean program. As Michael's title says: "Taking care with language."

    Which comes to mind, if one is religious I presume one also believes god gave us language to become higher, better beings rather than just reacting on a base instinctual level, something above growling, purring and barking., something between "I like" and "I hate." Communicating on a more complex level.

    Comes to mind the whole "Like" button thing of the internet is a bad influence in this regard! Trains us to not have to explain why we like something. Doesn't support better communication, only tribe vs. tribe.

    (Oh did I say I that I think political campaigning in general is bad for civilization goals? Especially negative campaigning intended to simplify issues and separate people into hate tribes? Vote up or down, like or not, no complexity to the human condition, only good or evil.)

    We now have this great tool called the internet that was supposed to offer nuance and understanding, and instead people use it to denigrate other groups as "racists" or "commie Bernie liberals" rather than understand them and what they are up to as individuals.

    I don't think I understand. You seem to be saying it's always wrong (factually incorrect? inexpedient? impolite?) to call other people racists. I think to refuse to call Nazis and white supremacists racists is to evade understanding of them and what they are up to as individuals. It's important to name things correctly, to see things for what they are. And in this case, to name them loudly and often. Nazis and their ilk succeed by seeking to appear harmless to what they call "normies"  until one day we are shocked, shocked, that they are gassing Jews by the million. 

    Or do you mean to suggest that we smear others (eg. republicans in general) unfairly with the tag of "evil", and that "manichean" talk à la GW Bush "you are either with us or against us" is unhelpful at best and more generally morally reprehensible? 

    I think the manichean frame is quite correct here. This current Nazi revival movement is trying to take over the public square by intimidation, and it's important that people not stand idly - timidly - by while they do so. To me, there is something very off about anyone who stands aside feeling indifferently (however complex those feelings about individual unique and incommensurable evils) about Nazis and the people the centrists have labeled the alt-left. And, if I'm reading you correctly, I and people like me are the the *only* bad people here? Seems a bit excessive, no?

    Michael said it well for me. Pericles, too.

    You are not the type I am talking about, you don't buy into the polarization game, you don't get into screaming epithets back and forth, you try to figure out what's going on.

    I would like to clarify that I don't at all fnd it "morally reprehensible" to buy into the screaming at each other game, I just find it bad, as in detrimental, a stupid reaction to any situation and the wrong way to solve anything. That is actually permitted under freedom of speech for important reasons. First, for haters to let off steam rather than act.  If haters can speak their hate, everyone else can know them and ridicule their hate as idiotic.

    What I am talking about, on the internet, it's the essence of trolldom. Trying to rile people into angry reaction.If one believes in that is a "good" or smart thing to do, then one should not complain about police not trying to keep shouting matches between protestors from escalating into something else.

    It's about communication contributing to learning and understanding.

    The internet allows for shouting. Moderators are able to end discussions that get out of hand. Internet service providers can decide not to provide their servers to house Nazis, etc. Their are remedies available on the internet.

    When police don't intervene when Nazis attack clergy, it tells anti-Nazi protesters to come to a protest ready to protect yourself. Nazis attacked clergy. Police did nothing, The clergy had to be rescued by left leaning citizens.

    Along with telling protesters to prepare to protect themselves from violence, the absence of police protection when white supremacists are involved suggests that police are reluctant to go after Nazis but will bring armored vehicles if Black Lives Matter show up. What happens on the internet does not allow police to stand aside when clergy are attacked.

    And Michael Maiello wrote this to bring up the topic of high quality communication and rhetorical tricks.

    Trying to rile people into angry reaction.If one believes in that is a "good" or smart thing to do, then one should not complain about police not trying to keep shouting matches between protestors from escalating into something else.

    I get much of what you are saying, but this? 

    What worries me is all the voices happy to reach for any reasons available that leftists have only themselves to blame for the police letting them take a beating from Nazis.

    Really? What about the girl who got doused with gas and her friends had to protect her from getting set on fire? What about the Jews who had to run out the back door because the Nazis were surrounding the synagogue with no police providing protection, just an old volunteer veteran? You think we should all vacate the city when they decide to march? You think that doesn't strengthen them, embolden them? They have an ally in the White House, only 16 GOP senators had the balls to condemn them.

    You think laughing in our armchairs is going to do the trick? We'll see how things turn out on saturday but there are no good clear and easy options here. Would that it were so simple.

    yes, were it so simple. I repeat: Arendt et.al. handled it best: "evil", it's complicated.

    Also it clarified things for me seeing this headline just now

    Trump chooses fighting over healing

    Sometimes we have had to go to war. But I guess I am a true believer in non-violent theory as the first best alternative to try, and I do mean the exact theory as practiced by Ghandi. I am ever hopeful that it will work best in most conditions. The violent alternative is the massive worldwide slaughter of WWII. Call me an appeaser if you wish, everyone draws the line at a certain point. Even if taking the violent (actual or verbal) route, those with cool heads and rational strategy seem to have prevailed in history.

    He is emboldening the Nazis and inciting violence and setting up the terms of the debate so that, when there is a serious outbreak of violence, he will blame the "Violent leftists", or what establishment democrats and republicans have joined with Trump in ominously dubbing the "Alt-left. If HE is the brain-damaged fool, what does that make all the people he is running rings around?

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but all too many people who should be allied with anti-fascists are playing into the hands of Trump with their "the left have only themselves to blame" mantra. I haven't gone over my Arendt notes in a while, but I don't think her point was lob some spitballs at the lefties. 

    Who said I think people should lob spitballs at lefties? I think not feeding trolls trying to do the manichean thing works best, don't play the game.

    Politicians have to use the "evil" word because they are playing the game. We don't have to, we can get into "complex".

    I am here at Dagblog and not at Daily Kos for that reason.

    Sorry for insisting, but using the word *evil" doesn't prevent serious thinking about the complex set of actions required to deal with the threat in question. Talking in terms of evil means taking it seriously as a priority issue to be tackled head-on, that it should bring together all people whatever their political leanings. "Evil" is a clear rallying cry. I don't see it as essentially demagogical. 

    I think I'm starting to understand your issue with it, but I'm not sure, because I'm pretty sure I disagree with Peracles vehemently on what "serious thinking" amounts to, thinking that gets at the genesis of the phenomenon and tempers the causal factors leading to tribalism and by extension racism. 

    I worry about availability cascades that comes from election victories, that comes from GOP senators not standing up to them, from policy initiatives that play into their narrative, from the across-the-board attacks on the leftists who are the only people standing up to them. (Update: Cernovich is deleting tweets praising the Nazi alt-right, so we've got that going for us)

    I agree Obey. Calling something evil doesn't mean the conversation must end there. We can have the complex discussion of why one thinks it evil and why another may not. Just as calling something or someone racist or antisemitic doesn't prevent serious thinking. It's only a problem if the word is used as a cudgel without giving the reasoning behind the claim. Which you are clearly not doing.

    The Indian independence story also included militants that were a source of concern for the British. The militant threat aided Gandhi


    "Insofar as we can speak of an American Civil Rights Movement that was wholly non-violent, it’s because there was no serious attempt at armed insurrection. According to Cobb, Movement people would bullshit about picking up tactics like the ones rebels were using in the concurrent (armed) battle for independence in Mozambique, but “we were not fighting a liberation struggle,” he says. “We weren’t about to start a guerrilla war to get a cup of coffee.” Malcolm X is often held up as the “violent” foil to King, but even his position was one of self defense. (“Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.”) The point is, “non-violence” described a large tactical range. There were avowed pacifists in the Movement, but for the most part the “violent” in “non-violent” referred to “war,” not mere “conflict.” During those hallowed non-violent marches, some people were still throwing rocks at the police. Cobb doesn’t see a contradiction in speaking of a “non-violent assault on a courthouse.”

    What unified the Movement was not an ideology of hardcore Christian pacifism, but a determination to make change." - from PS Magazine

    The Santa Clausification of Martin Luther King Jr is a real thing.

    Gandhi had impact in a different era. We saw Eric Garner and Tamir Rice killed in front of our eyes, yet there were no convictions for murder. The public I'd desensitized. There were clergy surrounded by attacking white supremacists. Police did nothing. People had to take violent action to rescue the clergy.

    Edit to correct "era" not "ears"

    Nonviolence in the face of government oppression is effective if it forces the people not involved to open their eyes to that oppression. As in the civil rights era when a large amount of whites were shocked by the violence of southern governments. The nonviolence of the protesters made it impossible to spin it as an appropriate response to civil disorder.

    It's less effective against private groups like the white supremacists. I've always disagreed with the idea that ignoring evil makes it go away or weakens it. It simply empowers it. "All that us necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to remain silent" has always been the standard I stand behind. In the end direct confrontation will inevitably lead to violence as these groups are violent by ideology. While I think it's counter productive for counter protesters to initiate violence I do think we should be prepared to defend ourselves when attacked. Too often nonviolence will also empower these groups especially in areas where they have tacit government support. In these areas both the white supremacists and the government must get the message that we will no be cowed and we will not back down.

    i am reassured by stories like this about what the supposedly violent Antifascist activists are up to


    I liked those stories too, seriously.   It is encouraging and good, I guess, because I like to think I am on the right side [in spirit  anyway while I stay warm and dry and hope that the roof stays on] and I like knowing there are brave people on that same side. We should realize though that those stories act like a recruitment poster and maybe be glad about that aspect that cheers on the soldiers but also realize that that is part of the almost inevitable escalation of violent confrontations that will not reverse feelings of anyone but only convince everybody involved on each side that they have been right all along.. Many people, but mostly young bags of male hormones, are being inspired to turn out next time filled with righteous pride tinged with anger all around and determined to be on the winning side.  

     I have no doubt that the same energy is going through the other side. They cannot wait to be part of the next big turnout. "Interesting" times ahead.

    I'm with you on the young bags of male hormones thing. It's an eternal major problem, related not just to this white nationalist thing but gangs, ISIS, cannon fodder for older men's grievances, mass shootings, etc. etc., etc. It was dealt with in past times, when there wasn't major war, by early marriage without birth control, quickly followed by children to support.

    I heard and read more than once tonight people that know some of these white nationalist guys: many of them are just losers who really just want a girlfriend and get a feeling of strength and respect from being with this gang. Which on the one hand, sounds just as nasty and sexist as saying about a woman when she's angry about something that she just needs to get laid.  On the other hand, I am still quite susceptible to the argument....

    What to do? Especially the longer we extend adolescence?

    An uncle of mine, during the Depression, from a poor family of 12, was sent to work in the CCC in a camp. Pictures show him looking quite happy and he was real proud of it later in life. (Much less so his time served later in a German P.O.W. camp in WWII, was not at all proud of that.)


    There is a new piece on Antifa @ NYTimes and it's interesting on what we are talking about here.

    It appears they do want to "fight", on this principle:

    “ “People are starting to understand that neo-Nazis don’t care if you’re quiet, you’re peaceful,” said Emily Rose Nauert, a 20-year-old antifa member who became a symbol of the movement in April when a white nationalist leader punched her in the face during a melee near the University of California, Berkeley.

    You need violence in order to protect nonviolence,” Ms. Nauert added. “That’s what’s very obviously necessary right now. It’s full-on war, basically.”

     It's pretty much the "just war" argument as I see it. Not bag of hormones, but of course, bag of hormones people might naturally join in as violent activities result on the city streets of a democratic nation. Interested in any input you might care to share.

    Thanks for the link, very good. 

    How the BBC reporter saw it, boots on the ground. Sometimes it helps to hear what a furriner sees. Plus the video is extremely well-edited only 3 mins:

    What Trump said versus what I saw

    President Trump says a torch-lit rally in Charlottesville on Friday night was peaceful and insists that 'both sides' were to blame for violent clashes the following day.

    The BBC's Joel Gunter was there and assesses what the president got right and wrong.

    I just watched Seth Meyers saying the same about Friday night's protest and showing a clip with the Nazis chanting "Jews will not replace us." Trump sees what he wants to see because he's racist and he wants to defend the racists.

    On a side note after watching Meyers, Samantha Bee, and John Oliver for the last two years it's become obvious how feeble Jon Stewart was as a political satirist.

    it's become obvious how feeble Jon Stewart was as a political satirist.

    hey thanks for your bravery in saying that, I was never a fan, found him boring, and started to worry if my sense of humor was too weird

    Trevor Noah is getting better too. 

    As I was typing the comment it did feel for a moment like I was kicking Mr and Mrs Libral's favorite cat. I thought Stewart was ok, funny occasionally but never willing to give the really hard hits his targets deserved. Bee, Myers, and Oliver don't hold back, they're brutal and I think they are much funnier. Perhaps a moderate satirist had to pave the way.

    Agendas aside, Stewart seems to me by far the most comical, most consistent, the one who could host the Tonight Show or play Saturday Night week after week. That he built a successful comedy around still scathing but not dogmatic news is a tribute to his touch, even though his campaign "both sides do it" extravaganza was a bit tin-eared. Anyway, funny first, PC later. I like the others, but they're not the monster talent that Stewart is.

    Bee is refreshingly biting and quickfire in her satire. Oliver is short documentary format with jokes interspersed to help along the ADHD afflicted. Meyers, I personally watch when I want a nice topical news recap presented by a nice normal person I don't immediately want to punch in the face (whoever does the casting for cable news is terrible). Stewart was the Seinfeld of late night. Picks up on something irritating and just scratches the right spot. Cognitive relief comedy I call it. 

    My problem with Stewart is it usually felt to me that rather than really digging in he just scratched the spot.

    Sure - he scratched the cognitive itch. He didn't try popping dislocated neural networks back into place. Not a comic chiropractor. You probably need a licence for that.

    Stewart struck the first blows though.  He knocked Crossfire off the air and put Jim Cramer in the hotseat.

    those were the days wink See, I am evil, I loved watching Crossfire, it was fun infotainment. Jim Cramer's shtick was temporarily exciting just for the newness of it, the manic of "The Street" being delivered to the crowds, but it grew tiresome rather quickly. Now I think of Cramer his show really represented a zeitgeist at a very specific point in time, more so than Stewart.

    Those were a couple of good stiff shots and Stewart deserves credit for them. I kinda forgot them, drowned out by all the weak tea he usually served I guess. I never thought he was very funny, too much Jerry Lewis type physical humor for me. Not enough really biting humor. It was his Both Sides Do It Rally To Restore Sanity and/or Fear that finally convinced me he wasn't the insightful hard hitting satirist I was looking for. Oliver and Bee are a whole other level of satire. But they came up through the Daily Show and likely wouldn't be where they are without it.  I include Meyers with his Closer Look segments because he shows that one can be harder hitting and funnier even when constrained by the language standards of the MSM.

    At the risk of agitating "Woke Twitter..." I always thought Bill Maher was funnier and more willing to take risks than Stewart.  Maher is an iconoclast. Stewart definitely wanted to protect his position as standard bearer of the left, once he'd gotten there.

    you really want to get into agitation that only old people will understand, one could get into how great Dennis Miller was in his first incarnation.

    (Oh the pre-internet memories come flooding now. Bill Maher's first talk show offered a good alternative to Crossfire, was Phil Donahue turned upside down.The short lived late night show with Arianna Huffington as the conservative and Al Franken as the liberal, having literal pillow talk in a bed was just plain fun...)

    I know other fine folk who like him too. But you all have terrible terrible taste in comedians. It's like watching a terrible Richard Dawkins lecture, except he also thinks he's funny and sexy. 

    Wow, I thought I was going out on a limb criticizing Stewart. You just stepped on a land mine praising Maher. If this were a bigger site flame wars would ensue. I don't think there's any doubt the Maher takes more risks and I like that about him. My problem is he sucks at the one on one interview and he's willing to give people  like Yiannopoulos and other right wingers cover in the name of free speech and being politically incorrect. It's ok to give him an interview but he should do his homework and hold his feet to the fire if he's going to give him a microphone on his show.

    Wow, I thought I was going out on a limb criticizing Stewart. You just stepped on a land mine praising Maher.

    Yeah, I've reached a period of my life where the kids (and also not kids, but people who really keep current in their views of what's acceptable) are kind of tossing wrecking balls at my favorites.  I liked early Dennis Miller, too!  I was in middle school when I watched him on SNL, but he was my Weekend Update guy.  Hard to hate him now, even though I disagree with his politics. Maher is guilty, as you say, of softballing some right wingers on his show.  I actually think he just failed to keep up with how nutty their fringe has become.  There was a time when a liberal comedian could spar deftly but affectionately with a conservative.  Think Woody Allen and William Buckley TV encounters.  Maher made some mistakes.  But he's no journalist, and they were mostly journalism mistakes.

    I respect his integrity. I'd say that on a bigger forum, and all of this as well.  I know it wouldn't go well for me.

    But, you know, when it comes to liking artists despite the social tidal currents, I've been swimming in an infinite lap pool for a long time.  

    Maher just loves himself too much, too Eddie Haskell.

    cool head:


    Latest Comments