Having Your Cake and Eating It Too…

March 30th, 2009

So this week’s blog focuses on the extent to which we tolerate criticism from journalists as well as comedians.  Let me explain: I like Jon Stewart.  Yes, I admit it, I watch and love the show.  Still I must admit that I often have a bitter taste in my mouth after watching his shows, as I think something’s not quite right.

Remember when Imus was one radio as a comedian? He’s the old guy with the weird hat who recently caused a stir and lost his syndication as a result of his referring to a college womens basketball team as a “bunch of nappy headed hoes”.  Click HERE to listen to this broadcast.

There were many who proposed that Imus would have been able to “get away” with such language back when his show was considered a comedy show.  However, his show had apparently made the transition to a more political (and objective journalism) venue so he was held to a different standard.  I’m not sure about this line of reasoning, but it does bring up an interesting point about what our society will tolerate when its labelled comedy (and satire) as opposed to genuine journalism (objective newsmaking).

I wonder about the same thing with regard to the Jon Stewart Daily Show.  I don’t think Stewart has used Imus’s sort of language, but he definitely “skirts” the line of what we believe may/may not be appropriate.  Moreover, Stewart seems to have the luxury of both worlds (serious political journalism and comedy) and loves to use the “I’m a comediy show” response when confronted with serious questions.

Watch these two videos in regard to this line of reasoning and then let me know what you think:

Stewart and Crossfire

Stewart and Jim Cramer

Blog Break until Sunday, March 29

March 15th, 2009

We are taking a break from blogging for mid-terms and spring break.  The next blog will appear Sunday, March 29.

Foreign Policy Responses…

March 8th, 2009

Recently, I sent my U.S. Senator and House Reps a couple of questions about our governments recent direction change regarding troop surges and withdrawls.  Hopefully you’re aware that we’re scaling down our presence in Iraq, but increasing our presence in Afghanistan.  Here were my questions:

1) What is your opinion of the recent plans to increase our troop presence in Afghanistan? Are we still searching for Osama Bin Laden after eight years of looking? Also what is your opinion of our need to disperse these troops in light of our recession here at home?

2) What, if anything, do you know about the timeline for our time in Afghanistan?

Below is the email I rec’d from US Representative Paul Ryan a couple of days ago.  what do you think of his response?


Dear Paul:


Thank you for contacting me regarding your continued concerns with our efforts to combat terrorism.  I appreciate your taking the time to share your views on this important issue.


Although we have been successful in warding off another terrorist attack since September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda and its allies remain intent on killing innocent people and spreading an ideology of violence and hatred around the world. We must never lose sight of this grave threat to our American ideals, and we must remain vigilant in our defense of freedom and democracy.  On September 10, 2007, I attended the joint House Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committee hearing where General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker delivered their assessment of the situation in Iraq.  Since the full implementation of the troop surge, Violence in Iraq has fallen to its lowest level since 2003. In addition, civilian deaths are down 75% since their peak last year, and insurgent attacks are down 60% from their peak in June of 2007.  As a result, one Army Combat Brigade Team and one Marine Expeditionary Unit were rotated out of Iraq in December, and will not be replaced.  If we are able to maintain the security gains of the troop surge, approximately 3,500 troops are set to leave Iraq every 45 days without replacement.


While I understand the concerns of many about the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, the troop surge seems to have provided significant security gains.  Pulling out now would provide terrorists with a safe haven in Iraq and access to oil money, remove current restraints on sectarian violence, and create a situation for Iran to manipulate the development of the newly formed Iraqi government.


I am personally grateful to our soldiers for their service in Operation Iraqi Freedom, but I also understand the concerns of many about the situation in the Middle East.  In the meantime, I will continue to vote to provide our soldiers with the best possible equipment so they are able to complete their mission safely, effectively, and quickly, and return to their families as soon as possible.  I believe we have a duty to these individuals, their families, and those who have already lost their lives in this struggle to provide the Iraqi government this chance to take control of their country and avoid the consequences of failure in Iraq.


Should you wish to share additional information with me concerning this issue, please feel free to contact me by calling, emailing, writing, or faxing me.  Please be advised that mail sent to my Washington office is subject to an additional two-week delay due to increased mail security.  You can also receive regular updates on what is happening in Congress and the 1st District delivered directly to your e-mail inbox by signing up for my Instant News Updates.  To receive the updates, visit my website at www.house.gov/ryan and click on the Instant News Updates graphic on the right side of the screen for this free service. 


Thank you again for contacting me on this issue.  If I can be of further assistance to you regarding this or any other matter, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I am always happy to respond and be of service to you.

Sincerely,Paul Ryan
Serving Wisconsin’s 1st District


Hollywood & Politics: A Good Match?

March 2nd, 2009

This week’s topic focuses on hollywood celebrities, their political clout, and its usefulness.  Recently Actor Sean Penn won the Best Actor Oscar for his role as Harvey Milk in the Movie Milk.  First off, I have seen the movie Milk and think Penn did an Oscar-worthy job (although I was pulling for Mickey Rourke for his role in The Wrestler).  His ACCEPTANCE SPEECH was filled with his political views as not only an individual but the icon that he is.  Another Celebrity Star, Kanye West, used his celebrity status on an NBC Fundraiser for Katrina Victims (watch this VIDEO) to highlight the atrocities occurring in on the Gulf Coast after the levees failed to hold in New Orleans, LA.

Don’t misunderstand I believe the message contained in the movie Milk and Kanye West’s words  highlight serious the problems occurring in our nation.  At the same time, I sometimes wonder how serious Hollywood is about all our social problems in the world? After all, some of the same celebrities continue to accept acting salaries of $20 million per movie, which makes me question the seriousness of their cause.  Sure Penn and West should be awarded for their talents!  Sure they have freedom of speech to say what they want in America!  But are the Oscar Awards and Katrina Relief Fundraising Shows the venues for political speak or merely a time to give out movie awards and raise money for flood victims? What do you think?