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 don't know if you've read the thread, but I'll post it again:
Actually, Jon Stewart has more than once referred to himself as a Secular Jew, and in his semi-recent interview with fundy Christian and US History Revisionist David Barton, JS seems to imply that he's a Secular Humanist (at least, that's what I got out of the interview). I don't think I've ever met a Secular Humanist who believes in God (which, I grant, can't even be considered a sample size), so my guess is that JS would probably identify as an agnostic if you asked, but is technically an atheist.
Rachel and Jon may be Liberals in most senses of the phrase, but I hardly think either one of them are very thought provoking. Remember that Jon is on Comedy Central-not MSNBC and his commentaries hardly rock any boats. Rachel Maddow on the other IS on MSNBC and her "liberal angst" isn't very angsty. Keith Olberman was more likely to say-and in fact did say-that President Obama might not even get the Democratic nomination this time around-just a couple of weeks before his show was axed. While I doubt that Obama will be passed up for the nomination, (as an incumbent President how often does that ever happen?) at least the angst was there in full force.
It's interesting that you think of both of them as liberal progressives-I see them (especially Rachel Maddow) as "lock-step Democrats" who can't seem to fathom why Democrats just keep right on losing-even when they win. Yes, Jon Stewart recognizes this fact and keeps laughing about it-but neither one of them are either willing or able to tackle the one huge fact that they keep kicking under the rug:
Barack Obama sucks at being president.
And the Democratic party couldn't care less about liberals.
Yet for some obscure reason, both Maddow and Stewart conflate Dems with liberals and Obama with effective and significant world leaders.
Now, before anyone pops up to say "But wait one darned minute! He came to the table with alot on his plate-you can't expect him to save the world in a day!" Must I remind them that B.O. ran for the office of POTUS knowing full well where the economy and the nation as a whole stood in terms of financial solvency, education, public programs, healthcare and the whole nine yards.
Remember that it was he who came from nowhere at the last minute to slam dunk Hilary Clinton's campaign with criticisms about her serious lack of leadership qualities concerning, mainly, her stance on voting for the Iraq war. (Since he has been in office he has had no qualms about sending tens of thousands of troops to Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere-and is now "considering", at the present moment, a friendly occupation of Jordan-whatever that means). Nobody ever said his job was going to be an easy one, but with candidate Obama's admonition to Mrs. Clinton ("You have to be right on day one...") one at least had the impression that he knew what he was doing...sort of.
So on day one (his inauguration) what does he do? He chooses an openly anti-gay minister of a church that has sent thousands of dollars to Uganda to support a government program there to kill homosexuals, as his opening speaker for the invocation. And when gays (including Ms. Maddow) spoke up about it, what did he say to them-to paraphrase-"Like it or lump it, this is the man I'm choosing for this job". Ironically that was the same thing he told liberals who fumed when he placed Timothy Geitner whose criminal refusal to excercise oversight over one of the biggest financial institutions on the planet led to the financial meltdown that we are still in, as a member of his cabinet rather than in prison where he belongs.
Oh, that he would have used that same tone with Republicans on at least one occasion during his time in office the Democrats might have actually won a fight or two during the last coupleof years.
I voted for him because-and shame on me for believing this (you would think at 37 I would have known better), I thought he was serious about the social changes that he stumped for during his campaign. And because I listened to people like Rachel Maddow who seemed to have only positive things to say about this "get-it-done" guy from Chicago.
Despite Maddow's claim after the general election in '08, that the GOP was shrinking fast and becoming (what were her own words again) "a teeny, tiny, teeny teeny, tiny little minority" (she kept saying that so much throughout most of '09 that I cringed every time I knew she was going to say it)-one that would soon only exist in the south-eastern United States (you know where all the bigots live and nobody is liberal),the Republicans showed astrong fronttothenewcommanderin chief and won him over in spades.
Every time a big bill came to the floor for a vote, where was our president-usually on vacation in some foreign country basking in the historicity of his presidency, or telling the liberals(the true liberals-not necessarily the card carrying Democrats) that we were going to have to expect to "give a little" to get a little.
But wait! We were in the majority weren't we? The GOP was just a teeny, tiny, teeny-oh forget it. Why didn't we strip Leiberman of his position in the senate? We could have used leverage like that to push a REAL universal health care bill through congress-one with a single-payer option. But no! By that time apparently Democrats were all about compromises. Then came the '10 mid-term elections and the end of the Republicans being a minority in the House.
And where is Rachel Maddow on this subject-why blaming Republicans for their nasty obstructionism, of course. What about all that thoughtful commentary of her's as to how the tea party was just going to dry up and blow away? Despite all of her political commentators and fellow trend-watchers from David Engel to Melissa Harris-Lacewell and others, how many of her "cautious judgments" have proven any where close to the mark-fewer than not. She just doesn't want to face the fact that the very president she pushes so hard for-and only spews very controlled vitriol at, when her own pet issues get trampled, has lost all effectiveness as a world leader and is only good at giving speeches and running off to some other country whenever the need for a vacation, or a commemoration of a statue in Kenya are in order.
I'm so glad Kenya thinks so much of him-too bad the American public sees him as somewhat less than inspirational, but he only has himself to blame for that-not the Republicans for not giving in to him over health-care or the debt ceiling issue or other issues. Face it the Republicans are just doing exactly what they have always said they were going to do. Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow need to face that fact, too.
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.