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Tonight's final New Rule from Bill Maher was an excellent piece of commentary, spurred by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's rally last weekend.  Bill blasted Jon for using the "both sides do it" argument.

But the message of the rally, as I heard it, was that if the media would just stop giving voice to the crazies on both sides, then maybe we could restore sanity.  It was all non-partisan, and urged cooperation with the moderates on the other side, forgetting that Obama tried that, and found out there are no moderates on the other side.

Full transcript below the fold.

And finally, New Rule, if you're going to have a rally where hundreds of thousands of people show up, you might as well go ahead and make it about something.  With all due respect to my friends Jon and Stephen, it seems to me that if you truly wanted to come down on the side of restoring sanity and reason, you'd side with the sane and the reasonable, and not try to pretend that the insanity is equally distributed in both parties.

Keith Olbermann is right, when he says he's not the equivalent of Glenn Beck.  One reports facts, the other one is very close to playing with his poop.

And the big mistake of modern media has been this notion of balance for balance's sake, that the left is just as violent and cruel as the right, that unions are just as powerful as corporations, that reverse racism is just as damaging as racism.  There's a difference between a mad man, and a madman.

Now, getting over 200,000 people to come to a liberal rally is a great achievement, and gave me hope.  And what I really loved about it was that it was twice the size of the Glenn Beck crowd on the Mall in August!  Although it weighed the same.

But the message of the rally, as I heard it, was that if the media would just stop giving voice to the crazies on both sides, then maybe we could restore sanity.  It was all non-partisan, and urged cooperation with the moderates on the other side, forgetting that Obama tried that, and found out there are no moderates on the other side.

When Jon announced his rally, he said that the national conversation is dominated by people on the right who believe Obama's a socialist, and people on the left who believe 9/11 was an inside job.  But I can't name any Democratic leaders who think 9/11 was an inside job.  But Republican leaders who think Obama's a socialist?  All of them!  McCain, Boehner, Cantor, Palin, all of them!  It's now official Republican dogma, like tax cuts pay for themselves, and gay men just haven't met the right woman.

As another example of both sides using overheated rhetoric, Jon cited the right equating Obama with Hitler, and the left calling Bush a war criminal.  Except thinking Obama is like Hitler is utterly unfounded, but thinking Bush is a war criminal?  That's the opinion of General Anthony Taguba, who headed the Army's investigation into Abu Ghraib.

You see, Republicans keep staking out a position that is further and further right, and then demand Democrats meet them in the middle, which is now not the middle anymore.  That's the reason health care reform is so watered down; it's Bob Dole's old plan from 1994.  Same thing with cap-and-trade; it was the first President Bush's plan to deal with carbon emissions.  Now the Republican plan for climate change is to claim it's a hoax.

But it's not.  I know that because I've lived in L.A. since '83, and there's been a change in the city: I can see it now.  All of us who live out here have had that experience.  Oh look, there's a mountain there!  Government, led by liberal Democrats, passed laws which changed the air I breathe for the better.  OK, I'm for them!  And not for the party that is, as we speak, plotting to abolish the EPA.  And I don't need to pretend that both sides have a point here.  And I don't care what left or right commentators say about it; I only care what climate scientists say about it.

Two opposing sides don't necessarily have two compelling arguments.  Martin Luther King spoke on that Mall in the capitol, and he didn't say, "Remember folks, those Southern sheriffs with the fire hoses and the German shepherds, they have a point too!"  No, he said, "I have a dream, they have a nightmare!"  This isn't Team Edward and Team Jacob.  Liberals, like the ones on that field, must stand up and be counted, and not pretend that we're as mean or greedy or short-sighted or just plain batshit as they are.  And if that's too polarizing for you, and you still want to reach across the aisle and hold hands and sing with someone on the right, try church!

I know some of you have problems with some of Maher's stances.  But when he's right, boy, he's right.  I think it's great that Bill made this point, echoing Keith's point, on a night when Keith cannot speak to us on TV.

Update: I had written this first as a comment, but felt it deserved a wider airing, regarding how I feel about all this.

We all get things wrong sometimes.  I don't agree with Jon or Stephen or Bill or anyone else 100% of the time.  And we shouldn't.  If we did, we're nothing more than sycophants or robots, dutifully repeating what we're told.

I think Jon is quite wrong with those false equivalences.  Isn't the first time he's wrong, won't be the last.  But is that bad enough you're going to write off all the times he perfectly NAILS it?  Not for me.

Or take Bill Maher, for example.  Horribly wrong when it comes to vaccines, very misguided when it comes to distinguishing between Muslims and Muslim extremists (talk about false equivalences!), and treats all religions the same (I'm Taoist, and it's rather offensive).  But does that mean I'll do a self-boycott of his show, or despise him as a result?  No, because he's right on so much of the other stuff.


Taking it further, we could go into a lengthy debate (and lord knows it's been hashed out on this blog before) over what kind of Democrats we support.  For most people here, Tom Perriello (VA-05) was a great Democrat, who took many tough votes in a very conservative district, voting quite progressively, and lost his re-election fight.  But there were some others who loathed him just because of his vote for the Stupak Amendment, and refused to lift one finger to help him.  Even got into a back-and-forth with someone a few months ago who said people like Perriello would "destroy" the basic platforms of the Democratic Party so that we'd no longer stand for anything!  Obviously, I disagree.

But that's the thing.  Are you willing to toss someone aside the minute they don't agree with you lockstep?  If not, and this is the question the purists can never seem to answer, on which issues are you willing to have disagreements but still support that person for re-election?  Sure, it depends on region.  We expect a much more progressive voting record from someone in a D+5 district than someone in an R+5 district, and if someone can't accept that, I'm sorry, they're a fool.

There's been a LOT of Blue Dog bashing since Tuesday on this blog, but many seem to forget that progressive and gay rights hero Patrick Murphy (PA-08) is a Blue Dog who lost on Tuesday, and homophobes around the country are cheering his loss.  I don't see how his losing helped us in ANY way, shape, or form.

We also saw 31% of gay people voted Republican this Tuesday.  Talk about voting against your own interests!  Commenter TR put it best for those who voted GOP or sat the election out:

If anyone on the left side of the spectrum thinks Democrats will see them sitting on the sidelines and will push through policy because they’re withholding their votes doesn’t understand the first fucking thing about politics in general or today’s Democratic Party in particular. They’ll ignore your issue more and move right to pick up some Heath Shuler assholes to fill the void you left behind.

Want your issue addressed? Stay and fight, over and over again. Get more and more IOUs from politicians across the board, and call in those debts when you’ve got the pull. It’s how every group on the rise has made it.



And as I wait for someone to post a copy of it on YouTube, here's another case where there are not two sides to a story.  It's good vs. evil, and it opens in less than two weeks!!!  Oh yeah, I'll be there for the midnight premiere.  8-)

Originally posted to BruinKid on Fri Nov 05, 2010 at 09:41 PM PDT.

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