Not sure where else to put this, so...
Since I tend to have knee-jerk reactions, I won't post my thoughts about this right now, except to say I'm mad... and disappointed. I think Jon utterly and completely missed the point... in fact, it's almost as if he misses the point intentionally.
But that's just me...
(If you can't see it, I don't know how to help you. I don't know how to download video clips from the Daily Show website. If I did, I'd put this on YouTube. If you know, please... tell me...)
I disagree with you about Jon Stewart. He now spends at least half his shows bashing Obama and the Democratic Party. He's stated more than once how he's become disillusioned with Obama and is most certainly one of the "disaffected voters" mojo5501 mentioned. As far as his influence... if you think Jon Stewart doesn't have alot of influence in effecting change, then you aren't following things very well.
In July 2009, Time Magazine asked it's viewers who the most trusted man in news was after Walter Cronkite had passed on. Jon Stewart won with 44% of the vote. (I should note that I'm a little surprised Brian Williams didn't win that, though I also admit I would've voted for Stewart had I known about the poll at the time, because I didn't know about Brian Williams then.)
The Pew Research Center released a poll in 2007 that showed that viewers of the the Daily were the most informed.
The Project for Excellence in Journalism has stated that the Daily Show is very nearly a legitimate news program.
A study conducted in 2004 and released in 2006 found that the Daily Show was at least as substantive as cable news networks.
This is why I get angry at people who always say "remember, he's just a comedian" (and yes, I even get angry at Stewart when he says that). Jon Stewart may be a comedian, but he's a comedian with a ton of influence. His show tends to shape peoples views on politics and the news, and I honestly believe that no one gets to the facts of an issue quicker, easier, and better than Jon Stewart and his team. I really do get my news from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, because I honestly just don't trust anyone else for it, and I think it's for very, very good reasons (only a small number of which are listed above).
I don't know about Rachel Maddow. I've always gotten the impression that MSNBC is trying very hard to be the liberal version of Fox News, and just as Conservatives ignore Fox News's obviously anti-news, pro-Conservative, corporate-whores slants, Liberals ignore similar (though admittedly not entirely the same) for MSNBC. And while MSNBC may not be employing Democratic "ex"-candidates, or be entirely anti-news, they are certainly as liberally-biased as Fox News is conservatively-biased.
What's more, the few times I've watched Maddow's show, I've cringed. I understand hating the Tea Party (I do, as well... I'm convinced that they will be the death of the USA. But "Teabaggers" has become over-used and boring... MSNBC, Maddow especially, needs to throw it away.
But when it comes to Barack Obama, I could not agree with you more. I'm also a "disaffected voter", as it were. I am very close to deciding not to participate in the 2012 elections at all because of how utterly worthless they are shaping up to be. He has been nothing but a disappointment, and has proven to me once and for all that the Democratic Party is made up of closet-Conservative politicians, the US wouldn't know Liberalism if it bit us in the ass.
I say give Obama another 4 years. He had an ambitious plan and people are expecting so much in so little time. He's only human and look at all the obstacles he's had in his way.
We are very impatient in this country. This is still a work in progress...getting the economy back up and running, creating conditions that incubate good-paying American jobs, improving the sad condition of our public schools, improving health care while containing skyrocketing medical costs, bringing our troops home...there are a lot of issues on the national plate right now. I continue to think that Democrats will provide what I consider progressive ideas to the table. I think that NOT voting is really giving up your voice at the table...but it's a free country and voting is certainly not mandatory. NOT voting is a sign of 'throwing up your hands' and staying outside as a spectator. Voter apathy is certainly a sign of the times, however.
I have called myself a Secular Jew, a Cultural Jew, and an Atheist Jew more than once. I have no respect at all for Davidian/Abrahamic mythology, but I absolutely love Hebrew, Jewish food (who doesn't love Bagels, Lox, etc?), most of the holidays (Passover's my favorite... okay... the story sucks, but the feast! and the family gatherings! And did I mention the feast?), services (every now and then), and even reading Torah on Saturday nights.
Okayyyy... but all you're proving is that you can call yourself a secularist Jew (or Atheist Jew or whatever) ohh and Jerry Coyne can too--wonderful! But that still doesn't prove that the term has any meaning-after all, what is a Jew but a member of the Judaic faith? (It is already known that Jews do not really exist as a seperate "race"-that they do not differ linguistically, culturally or historically from any of the peoples of the Middle East and that their language (Hebrew) did not vary from the Phonecian language until about 900 BCE.). Torah readings on Saturday nights? I'm sure that stuff can be fun if youre into the phonetics-any true fan of Klingon culture would probably also enjoy that, I'm sure.
Feasts-oh I am so totally there! I've made Kosher baked chicken more than once -although I can't quite get the lemon-thyme seasoning strong enough-but my daughter and I always had fun excavating it from the concrete layer of salt and I love bagels, and just last week I made latkes with cream cheese-just for something different and they were delicious. I also love greek food, greek mythology and greek language-which I can speak (some)- but I do not consider myself a secular Greek because I am not Greek by descent-and even if I was, what of it? I was raised in a Christian family-does that make me a "Christian Atheist"? Get my point? Oh and btw I think latkes are originally Hungarian-not Middle Eastern-but who cares, so long as you make 'em right?
Secular (Floridian) American
And I like "Silent Night", in French, pork rinds fried in bacon fat and dolloped in maple syrup, and meat pie, the "feast" for xmas too... that certainly does not make me a catholic atheist... sigh :(
We all have cultural backgrounds which hold some meaning to us, some of us have done more cultural explorations than others, and have adopted more cultural tidbits from other cultures than others.
But mixing the word atheist with any religious connotation just peeves me to no end.