Maddow’s and Stewart’s takes on Republican lunacy

November 10, 2012 • 6:11 am

We have Rachel Maddow and Jon Stewart; the Right has Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly.  This consoles me immensely.

And both of “our” guys had an election post-mortem satirizing the execrable math and logic used by Republicans to either predict victory before the election or explain why they lost.

In a nine-minute clip from Rachel Maddow’s show the other day, she discusses the “Creepy Rape and Abortion Caucus” of the Republican Party, beginning with an insane statement by The Susan B. Anthony List (a conservative anti-abortion group) that the Republicans lost because they weren’t sufficiently opposed to abortion.  In reality, exit polls showed that 59% of voters this year think that abortion should be legal, and only 36% illegal.   She then recounts the rise in anti-abortion legislation in the last few years (all promoted by Republicans, of course), and shows clips from nine of the CRAC members, all of whom lost their races.

Maddow concludes that the key factor in defeating these Republicans was that Democrats finally decided to hold their opponents to account for their ludicrous views, and to question them mercilessly, forcing Republicans to campaign against their will on issues of rape and abortion. One other factor, I think, is the effectiveness of satire on people like Todd Aiken and Richard Mourdock.  When someone says that “legitimate” rapes can’t result in pregnancy, what’s the proper response: a sober disquisition on female reproduction, or jeering laughter?

(from Matt Bors)

Jon Stewart is always funny, but was especially good on Wednesday when he skewered Fox News for its election prognostications (it’s the second video at the link, and be sure to see Karl Rove eating his feet at 1:20), but watch the first video, as well. As The Raw Story notes:

On his show Wednesday night, The Daily Show host Jon Stewart vivaciously [JAC: I think they mean “viciously”] mocked Fox News’ election coverage. In particular, Stewart noted “there was an avalanche on bullshit mountain” after President Barack Obama was declared the winner. Stewart was especially entertained by Republican strategist Karl Rove’s denial that Obama was going to win Ohio, remarking that “Math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better” could be the new Fox motto.

I can’t resist pointing out that Stewart is a fellow alum of The College of William and Mary.

51 thoughts on “Maddow’s and Stewart’s takes on Republican lunacy

  1. And for those who can’t get enough, Maddow was on Stewart’s show on Thursday. The interview can be seen at the The Daily Show’s site.

    This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship…

        1. You may be shocked — shocked! — to hear this, daveau, but some folks claim there’s a “one of those kinds of friends” subtext to Rick and Louie strolling off into the fog together in the final scene of Casablanca.

          Of course, those making that claim include the…er, usual suspects.

  2. So a conservative anti-women’s rights group names itself after Susan B Anthony? I shouldn’t be surprised. “Explore Evolution”, as many here will know, is a creationist pseudo-textbook, the UK group TruthInScience is run by YECs, and the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation exists to attack the very concept of stewardship in favour of reckless exploitation.

    1. Don’t forget “pro life”, which is against actual females’ and families’ welfare. By relabeling most of the process of procreation as ‘life’ it down-values actual life twice over.

      Or in other words, if anything that can spawn later adults is ‘life’, we now commit murder when accidentally scraping our skin as we can take any cells and convert them twice through stem cells to germ cells AFAIK.

  3. Maddow and Stewart, spreaders of sanity, in the tradition of Twain, Rogers and Sahl… (and others I have missed)…

  4. “Definitely talk more about rape, you guys! Keep it up.”

    Yes, that will work out brilliantly.

    I totally love Maddox.

  5. “Math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better”

    Keep in mind that was said to Karl “The Math” Rove. Delicious.

      1. I totally agree on this one. If you watch the whole clip, Rove keeps challenging the Ohio call when Fox has called it, and you can hear her muttering “That’s awkward.” And then her math comment +2!

  6. Question: Why is the right wing republican/T party allowed to own god? Yeah, we all know that’s the bed rock of the party. Still…should we allow the continued discussion of issues as vast as hurricanes or tornadoes to issues of rape and birth control to stand as “ACTS OF GOD” probably because god is pissed about some human activity.
    I have seen bumpers stickers and yard signs that claim god will cure pollution, and if god and his/her supporters could pronounce it than maybe ocean acidification. Climate-change, if real at all, is a punishment from god?
    Those who come here to read are probably atheist or agnostic, and may not consider the domain of god in others minds an issue. This does however, have increasing affect on the political dialogue in the United States. We could be helping those who not may not be non-religious, but still have a functioning brain, to speak out. There are about 16-20% of us, yet we remain silent on the debates of the absurdity and godliness of global warming and menstrual cycles.

  7. Wow!
    It was truly amazing to see one of the Fox News presenters have to go to a back office to check with the nerds working the computers just how off the pundit she was interviewing was.

    That was one of the most unbelievable sights on TV imaginable.

    She may as well just have said on air ‘Could somebody open a window please? It is beginning to stink in here.’

  8. Under Bush, Stewart performed regular routines with a glove puppet in which he protested the existence of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. His main point was that Americans should accept some risk to themselves (by holding prisoners on the mainland) for the sake of the higher cause of justice.

    No right to choose there – but an inspiring statement of principle. Stewart could extend it to abortion as follows:
    It is better that ten ‘blobs of jelly’ get legal protection than that one child should suffer a brutal partial-birth abortion.

    On second thoughts, forget that, because 59% of voters could not give a damn.

    And after four years of “Gitmo” remaining open under Obama, it is doubtful they really cared about that either.

    1. Your attempt at drawing an analogy between Gizmo and abortion is idiotic and like most Right Wing morons who talk about the issue fails to even consider the woman whose body is sustaining the fetus. You also appear to have conveniently forgotten that Obama did try to close Gizmo but the GOP balked.

    2. Maybe when you formulate that coherently, your intended audience can at least say how stupid your _ideas_ are.

      For now, all I can discern is the erroneous claim that a fetus is a “child”. Last I heard you have to be born, and you don’t get cognition to be responsive until months later.

      Even late term abortions are only “brutal” to the female at risk, because the fetus can’t feel pain.

      The wires don’t go all the way up. Which, come to think of it, is an excellent characterization of anti-abortionists trying to understand the biology at hand.

  9. The third segment of that night’s “TDS” was also *brilliant* as was the entire “TRMS”. There’s a tradeoff with RM, however, because she’s never going to call out her NBC colleagues (e.g., David Gregory) for their bullshit false equivalency reporting because she’d lose her job. Jon Stewart sometimes gives off a whiff of this kind of thing too, e.g., his ridiculous “Rally to Restore Sanity”. I’ll be fascinated to see who the guest lineup will be on “Meet the Press” this Sunday and whether they’ll be talking about how the shellacking the GOP took last Tuesday is Good For The GOP. Btw, “The Colbert Report” was equally funny that evening.

  10. I was driving through an intersection the night before the election and there were two women on the sidewalk holding a sign that stated “Women for Romney”. I pulled over and got my camera out and they asked me why I was taking their picture. “Largest gathering of women for Romney that I’ve ever seen”, was my reply. Thankfully, they laughed.

  11. Third attempt.

    You lost me at the second sentence. There are over 2 million inmates in the U.S. currently. What is the increased risk by adding a few more? It’s not a trade off between safety and rights. It’s a question of rights vs. no rights.

      1. That was supposed to be in reply to Kevin at comment 12, but with commenting issues I’ve been having on this site, I guess I posted it to the wrong place by the third try. Oh well, I’m just happy I figured out the problem. That’s the first comment I’v been able to leave in a month.

  12. Todd Akin doesn’t have to worry about being disappointed.

    The conservative body has a way of shutting that whole thing down.

    He doesn’t have to worry about thinking either. And for the same reason.

  13. Can I be a little frivolous? I can’t help fantasizing this was some sort of “revenge of the nerds”… I totally can see this group – Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Ezra Klein, Steve Kornacki and Nate Silver – as the kids who always got an A+ on everything but were laughed at by the smug, obnoxious popular kids – little Limbaugh and little O’Reilly.

  14. Am I the only one who finds Maddow annoying, boring, derivative, smug, self-satisfied, tiresomely earnest and deeply unfunny?

    And I say that as someone who is sympathetic to most of the things she says.

    As for the “math” issue with the polling. Let’s see how Democrats respond when the polls aren’t going their way.

  15. Poor little Republitards, they just don’t get it. They’re addicted to their own baloney and think, like alcoholics, that if they’ll just do more of it, everything will be OK. It might have worked in a telegraph and or newspaper world, but not in an Internet world.

  16. I was just reading a really stupid whine from Charles Krauthammer at National Review Online — — in which he is doing the “Romney lost because he wasn’t conservative enough” shtick. I kept thinking, “Romney was too liberal, so people voted for Obama!”

  17. Issues regarding abortion tend to turn on the question of when “life” begins. Contrary to the assertions of ideologues on all sides of the abortion issue, that question admits of no easy, clear-cut answers. It is instead swaddled in shade after shade of grey.

    That question does not have a medical answer – although any answer we fashion should always be informed by medical science. Ultimately, the question has a legal answer, but only by default, not because the law is particularly adept at answering such questions but because, like any number of issues in American life that cannot be conclusively answered by other means and about which people disagree, the legal system must supply an answer as the dispute-resolver of last resort.

    For many, including nearly all who come down on the “pro-life” side, the answer to the question of when life begins is a function of their religious beliefs. But the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibits our secular legal system from adopting an overtly religious standard (as opposed to one that only incidentally coincides with religious convictions, such as the prohibitions on theft, murder, and bearing false witness). Moreover, it is the law of the land, under Roe v. Wade and its progeny, that a woman’s reproductive decisions are within the ambit of the constitutionally guaranteed right to privacy.

    Owing to the large grey areas involved, the belief of religious people that “life” begins at conception (although I do not agree with it) is not self-evidently wrong. What is wrong, and what I disagree with vehemently, is when the religiously motivated attempt to foist their views on those who do not share them. Among those who believe life begins at conception – who believe that a fertilized egg is the ontological equivalent of a full-fledged human being – who would allow no exception to terminate a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, they can at least be credited (although I am again in much disagreement with them) for their consistency, something that cannot be said for the pandering politicians who troll for votes either by misrepresenting their first principles or by attempting to split the difference by convincing one side or the other that they lack the strength of their convictions.

    I believe that there is a vast difference – an ontological difference, if you will – between a clump of undifferentiated cells (that is, a blastocyst early in a pregnancy) and a new-born baby. But there is a large difference, as well, between a clump of undifferentiated cells and a viable fetus in the third trimester of a pregnancy. Whether there is a vast difference – an ontological difference – between a new-born and a viable fetus in the third trimester (and, if so, just when and how that difference should manifest itself legally) is perhaps the greyest of the abortion issue’s grey zones.

    I also believe that a pregnant woman should consult with the man who shares responsibility for her pregnancy in making a decision regarding the fate of that pregnancy, and believe that most woman do (in numbers roughly proportionate to the seriousness of the relationship she has with that man). But I do not think the law has any business forcing a woman to do so. Similarly, I think a young woman ought to consult with her parents (and ideally with the young man’s parents also where feasible), but especially with her own where the woman is a minor (and think that most girls do, so long as the parents have fostered a relationship where the daughter feels she can do so). Where such a relationship does not exist, consulting with her parents would likely make the situation worse, and the State ought not be forcing her to do so against her will.

    I also can imagine that there are times when a healthcare professional ought to discuss with a woman her options other than abortion, and obviously they should always answer truthfully any questions the woman has regarding her pregnancy. But we should trust well-trained professionals acting in good-faith to recognize those situations where such a discussion is warranted and trust them to broach the subject in a manner that does not make the situation any more painful than it already may be. The State should certainly not tread upon the relationship between patient and healthcare provider (and certainly should never mandate that the professional provide inaccurate information to the patient in an effort to sway her decision).

    No sane woman seeks to become pregnant for the purpose of having an abortion. A woman considering terminating her pregnancy is undoubtably looking at that as the potentially least-worst of the bad choices she faces. Society’s first goal ought to be not to make that situation any worse, meaning that State ought not intrude upon that decision by making it more difficult for the woman to terminate her pregnancy, except perhaps for those cases that fall at the extreme edges of the broad grey-scale that is the abortion issue.

    With regard to the asinine statement by anti-abortion politicians that a woman’s body has some way of avoiding unwanted pregnancies that result from “legitimate” rape, none of them have offered any proof that this is the case, of course, for no such proof exists. If, however, a woman’s uterus had oyster-like qualities and could prevent, in response to intrusion by an unbidden penis, the fertilization of her ovum – by secreting a substances that would form an impregnable shield around the tens of millions of sperm a man ordinarily ejaculates or (seemingly more efficiently) around the woman’s egg – such evidence would not be hard to come by. Since we have none, what the politicians must mean (though no one asked sufficiently pointed questions to clarify the issue) is that the woman’s body, through whatever defense mechanism it employs, rids itself of the fertilized egg – or, as the fertilized egg is known to the anti-abortion crowd, the “unborn child.” This would be a miscarriage or, as it is known medically, a “spontaneous abortion.”

    Point here being, what these politicians are maintaining is that nature (which is to say, Nature’s God) is aborting the pregnancy caused by rape. Thus it would seem from a religious standpoint, a woman impregnated by rape is herself acting in a “godly” fashion, acting in the fashion of the God in whose image and likeness she was purportedly created, by electing an abortion, when she in essence terminates a pregnancy caused by rape that He happened to miss (especially since, for an omnipotent and omniscient being, God seems to miss quite a few, seems not to be all that efficient or consistent in seeing such tasks through to their finish). What’s more, there is evidence that a woman’s body will spontaneously abort a fetus that has severe developmental defects. Indeed, Nature/God spontaneously aborts fetuses for any number of reasons and for no apparent reason at all. Accordingly, taken in combination with the dearth of Scriptural reference condemning abortion, there does not seem to be much of a case to be made that the act of abortion is an abomination to God.

    Of course, as a non-believer, I do not find this argument meaningful. I also recognize that it incorporates a “naturalistic fallacy” in that it confounds the natural with the good (though religious folks seem willing to embrace the naturalistic fallacy when it serves their purpose, as when they rely on it in propounding fallacious arguments against gay rights). But this argument does tend to undermine their assertion that their opposition to abortion rights arises from their legitimate religious beliefs. In addition, there are reasons to think that their expressed concern over the “life” of the “unborn child” is also largely pretextual, given that their concern does not extend to the welfare of children following their birth, nor extend to life across the board, in that many of them support the death penalty and preemptive war and other positions inconsistent with a salubrious concern for “life.”

    What drives the anti-abortion movement instead is conflicted feelings toward women’s sexuality. There is no gainsaying that the sexuality of the human female is a powerful force to be reckoned with. (This is an understanding I came to intuitively, as a teenager, the first time I participated in a partner reaching orgasm – one that further experience and more abstract forms of study have served to deepen.) Yet it should come as no surprise that so powerful a force will beget fear in certain segments of the population, especially those raised in a repressive religious atmosphere, one with an aversion toward much of human sexuality in general and female sexuality in particular. And the pathological loathing born of such fear gives rise to a desire to control, and resultant need to suppress, women’s sexuality. Thus it is that the antipathy toward female sexuality manifests itself as both a source for, and consequence of, reactionary religious belief. That is why the anti-abortion-rights movement is riddled with a monomaniacal obsession with sex for procreative purposes, and the virulent belief that, for profligate women of easy virtue, pregnancy is the condign punishment.

    1. Issues regarding abortion tend to turn on the question of when “life” begins.

      They don’t, actually. The status of the fetus is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter it’s a living person ensouled by god. A complete red herring. See Matt Dillahunty’s debate on the subject.

  18. “The status of the fetus is irrelevant. … A complete red herring.”

    I watched the Matt Dillahunty – Kristine Kruszelnicki debate. Twice. I found it interesting (if not always illuminating). So thanks for the link, HH.

    I do not see, however, how you derive from it that “the status of the fetus is irrelevant,” that it is a “complete red herring.” To the contrary, that entire debate, or most of it anyway, turned on precisely that issue — although it substituted the terms “personhood” and “human being” for the term “life.” For Kruszelnicki, the question at issue in the debate was put paid immediately upon her determining that a fertilized egg was a living human being entitled the full rights of personhood.

    Although Dillahunty asserted that he could argue for abortion rights even if he were to concede a fetus was entitled to personhood rights — on the basis that the woman and fetus would then have co-equal rights, under which her interest in bodily integrity would trump its in monopolizing control of her womb for nine months — but he never followed through on that assertion, and instead primarily made his case (for the most part successfully, I think) on her terms, arguing that while a fetus is human (at least in its potential) whether that gives it full personhood status was “different” and “more difficult” question, one on which even the two of them had been “equivocating” during their debate. (See the Dillahunty-Kruszelnicki exchange at the Texas Freethought Debate at the 40 to 45 minute mark.)

    This is nearly identical to the position I advanced above, which makes me wonder whether you read beyond the first paragraph of my comment (though, of course, you were under no obligation whatsoever to do so — even less obligation, obviously, than a woman who finds herself pregnant is under to continue to carry her pregnancy to term ;)…..)

    In any event, the statement in my first paragraph that abortion issues “tend to turn on the question of when ‘life’ begins” was not meant to be normative but solely descriptive — I was not setting out the grounds on which the issue should be argued, but merely stating where it usually is. The underlying point I was looking to put forward was that the when-life-begins question was neither amenable to meaningful answer nor particularly illuminating regarding abortion rights. I did not purport to resolve that question, and the position I did advance in no way depended upon its successful resolution.

    On the other hand, Dillahunty, to the extent he raised the bodily rights argument, was not describing the grounds on which the abortion-rights battle is usually fought, but suggesting instead that (at least in the alternative) these were the grounds on which that battle should be joined. Consequently, his position was the complimentary mirror-image of mine — that is, it was normative rather than descriptive. Thus, your comment concerning whether abortion issues tend to turn on the when-life-begins question — that “[t]hey don’t, actually” — is incorrect, actually. Perhaps what you meant to say was that they actually shouldn’t, in which case your comment would be both consistent with Dillahunty’s position, and in no way inconsistent with mine.

    1. I haven’t seen the debate, but I’ll agree that the question of when personhood begins is a red herring.

      We wouldn’t even think to legally require that a mother should rush into a burning building to rescue her baby. We might hope that she would at least think about doing so in some circumstances, but nobody would criticize her for “failing” to do so.

      Yet the forced-birth brigade would require that women jeopardize their health and their lives for “babies” not yet born. And, frankly, in situations with statistical odds sometimes not all that far off from rescuing somebody from a burning building.

      You can believe that “personhood” starts at any time before birth you care to think of. Hell, you can even think that ensoulment takes place at the moment of conception, a ludicrous theological proposition right up there with the stork theory (what of identical twins?). You can think those who have and perform abortions are destined for Hell, or you can just be uncomfortable with and disturbed by the concept (as I personally am), and still come down solidly in favor of abortion rights.

      You see, with rights not only come responsibilities, but also the right to be worng. If we are to grant people the freedom to have control over their own lives, over their own bodies, we must accept the simple fact that some of those people will make decisions that we ourselves are convinced are not right.

      We generally accept this downside to freedom with most other rights. You’re free to vote for whomever you want, even Communist Nazis. You’re free to say whatever you want, even promote Hitlerian doctrine. You’re free to worship any gods you want, even Satan.

      And, so, if we’re to trust women to make the best decisions they possibly can in often miserably heart-wrenching situations — such as, for example, selective reduction in cases of multiple pregnancies — then we must also accept that not all will choose wisely, but that the choice must remain theirs.

      Because, if we don’t, then there’s really only one other logical option, and it’s a truly evil one. If you really think that personhood begins at conception, then we must constantly monitor the reproductive status of all women and even girls from the age of five through seventy-five. There would practically have to be constant monitoring of their ovulation cycles, and every ovum would have to be accounted for. Once fertilization is detected, that person’s very delicate status must be closely monitored, and every spontaneous abortion (the result of at least 50% of conceptions) must be properly investigated, documented and accounted for.

      You might want to live in that world, and I know that Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin and Paul “Drive a Mack Truck Through It” Ryan would absolutely love to live in that world…but over half the electorate and a significant majority of the Electoral College has just said, most emphatically, “Fuck that shit!”


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