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Comedy and politics

By maxwell edison ·
As many of you may or may not know, accuracy in reporting is one of my pet peeves. (This includes "reporting" of any kind, from any and all sources, including an individual. A false premise, I've often said, equals a flawed conclusion and/or a poor decision.)

The Pew Research Center, which I consider one of the more reputable organizations that measure public opinion and behavior, has reported something that is, if you think about it, rather sad. 20 percent of young adults in America, the report says, learn their political campaign news from late night television shows such as the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Show with David Letterman, Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, and others. Man oh man, talk about an uninformed electorate. One-fifth of the voting public cast their votes based on comedy and satire! I find that incredible. I find that disturbing.

Another 20 percent gathered their "news" from the Internet. The Internet can certainly be a source for credible information, to be sure, but it can also be a source for the absolute worst misinformation.

Nightly network news was named as a regular source of campaign news by 35 percent, newspapers by 31 percent, and 38 percent said cable news networks was a source for political campaign information.

Obviously there are overlaps in sources, which is understandable, since many people, myself included, use a myriad of sources to gather information and as a way to (hopefully) weed out misinformation.

But the article concludes as follows:

"Young adults were far more likely than those over age 50 to say they regularly learned something from comedy TV shows ? by 21 percent to 3 percent. In general, Americans are poorly informed on specific information about the campaign. Those who regularly learn about the campaigns from entertainment shows were even less informed."

They "learned something from comedy TV shows"? Comedy TV shows?????? Sad, very sad indeed.

What do you think? What are your sources? Do you think the Internet is more a source of information or misinformation? Do you even consider the "comedy" shows at all? How many try to find the necessary "balance"?

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Speaking of peeves

by Cactus Pete In reply to Comedy and politics

I'm sure it's just quick typing, and I'm relatively sure I get your intended meaning, but:

"20 percent of young adults in America" followed by "One-fifth of the voting public" just isn't accurate.

20% of young adults is, I hope, significantly less than 1/5 of the voting public.

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Very perceptive

by maxwell edison In reply to Speaking of peeves

And very correct.

(And rather ironic, if you think about it.)

I read too fast and assimilated the information incorrectly. Such a gaffe can only be explained by suggesting that I wrote that before my first cup of coffee this morning.

But the gist of the issue is the same. (Isn't it??)

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I think it just furthers your point

by Cactus Pete In reply to Very perceptive

This is how inaccuracies happen. And the points of others', too, that even when you go to sevceral sources, your info can be, well, let's not say wrong, but at least inconsistent.

But yes, I think I know you well enough to understand your point - and who couldn't agree with it?

Now, as to whether or not it is, as you said, sad to get info from a comedy show - therein lies irony.

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...but seriously

by Cactus Pete In reply to Very perceptive

One should get a good percentage of input from the comedy shows [late night, what ever] as well. If you don't understand the issue enough to poke fun at it, you don't understand the issue enough. [Or at least get offended when someone else pokes fun, I suppose.]

But I must say, I hope it's not the first and only place you hear your news...

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Quick question...

by mrafrohead In reply to Comedy and politics

I'm trying to be serious here. I'm not trying to make a joke, so please try to take me serious.

Why does it really matter where we get out informatin from?

Reason is this: From what I have seen, our votes don't count anyway, so it doesn't really matter what monkey you vote for. Or what referendum you vote on.

Why I say this is: Comedy shows, yes they probably aren't the best source to get your information from, but when the election/voting is nothing but a joke anyway, isn't it rather fitting?

I have voted for 7 years, since I was 18. Our votes have been overturned by our state officials and even government officials SO many times, that I just don't see the point in it. Our voice makes no difference. The buttmonkeys in office WILL get what they want. Regardless of what the people say.

If anyone thinks that I am just talking nonsense, please look up Tim Eiman - WA State on the internet and see what I am talking about.

Most of his initiatives have passed, but out state cried about it and just overturned it. There's something for starters.

Please let me know what you think of this, I'm curious. Most people think I make no sense on this topic, but again, this is my first hand experience.

Mrafrohead - an unregistered voter

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Why vote? Why get involved? Why care?

by maxwell edison In reply to Quick question...

You asked, "Why does it really matter where we get out information from?" Well, consider this. Remember back to when we were kids and we watched those cartoons where a little guy (a conscience, a devil, whatever) was standing on some cartoon character's shoulder whispering in his ear what to do or what to think? Often times, a counter-part would appear on the other shoulder and whisper a different message in the other ear? What if you only listened to one of those guys? Borrowing a line from Paul Harvey, what's the rest of the story? There's more to a story, any story, than just the punch line of a Jay Leno joke. I often wonder how much those folks (the comedians) have contributed to our current environment of voter apathy. What ever happened to the great comedians who could come up with a joke that wasn't detrimental to the reputation of someone else. (Did you know that Dan Quayle, for instance, in reality, is a very very smart person?) Bob Hope, Milton Bearle, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, and all the classic comedians who could cut a joke on themselves or something that harmed no one. Where have all the great ones gone?

The wave of voter initiatives and referendums is a relatively recent development. California, Oregon, Washington, and my own home state of Colorado are, from what I understand, leading the way in the number of these issues put on the ballots. On one hand, it puts the particular issues in the hands of the voters themselves. But on the other hand, it contradicts the notion and design of representative government. It's no wonder that there's a lot of confusion and complaints about many of them. There are cases, especially in California, where a voter referendum that passed is in direct conflict with an existing law or State Constitutional provision. But you know what, these things get on the ballots one signature (one vote) at a time. Have you ever signed one of those petitions on your way into a grocery store? (If you did it didn't count, since you're not a registered voter.) Sure, the sales pitch might sound reasonable, but what a can of worms it might open up. They have, in some cases, made a mess of things in California, and they've caused unintended consequences in other states. But since they've become more popular, especially in your very own state, it just shows the importance of being a well informed and involved voter. We have a Tim Eyman in our state too. His name is Douglas Bruce. I'm not sure what to think of these types of things yet, but I do know one thing. By practicing apathy instead of involvement, you're letting someone else make all the rules. And if you're not a registered and active voter, you're letting the Tim Eyman's of the world make the all the rules. Is that what you really want?

You said that you don't vote because you don't think your vote will count. Well, if around 500 like-minded people in Florida had voted in November 2000 instead of letting their apathy keep them home, we might be arguing why President Gore hasn't done anything to counter the 9-11 attacks on America, and Saddam Hussein would still be murdering Iraqi citizens whose family members didn't fall in line with his regime. A measly 500 additional people voting for Al Gore in Florida would have literally changed the course of history, there's no doubt about it. So yes, your vote DOES matter. Moreover, for the sake of discussion, substitute the word vote with a synonymous phrase such as "express my opinion". If you don't express your opinion, you're right, it will never be heard - NEVER. If you DO "express your opinion", even though it might not always make a difference in the bigger scheme of things (with the emphasis on "might not"), in some cases it just might be heard, and in some cases it just might be the single voice that makes the difference. One snowflake does not make a blizzard, but a blizzard is always made up of single snowflakes. Whether or not it's heard isn't the point. Weather or not it's acted upon isn't what matters. Would you rather have your vote not count, or have someone else's vote count for you? Don't let apathy win. Don't let apathy keep your opinion stifled. Stand up and put yourself in a position to be heard, or lie down and be subjected to the whims of others.

You said that it doesn't matter what monkey you vote for. Well, every once in a while our "monkeys" are able to evolve into something bigger and better. Besides, I'd rather have my monkey who may be at least somewhat prone to my way of thinking, than someone else's monkey who is prone to throwing his poop on me.

You said, "Comedy shows, yes they probably aren't the best source to get your information from, but when the election/voting is nothing but a joke anyway, isn't it rather fitting?"

I was expecting an "elections are a joke" message, so you didn't disappoint. But again, if elections are a joke, at least your vote may allow you to write your own punch line.

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Side bar

by Oz_Media In reply to Why vote? Why get involve ...

Completely off topic, probably best in my case, your reference to Bob Hope.

He is one person who as you said could laugh at himself, being a former stint comedian myself, I think the best laughs are the ones when you laugh at yourself. If you don't think you are a joke or see humor in things you do, how can you enjoy the life you live? I spend everyday with myself, I don't just visit me when I choose. Why would I want to hang out with a straightman all day?

God bless Bob Hope, who has done so much for so many people, he will never be forgotten as one of my favorite British-American comedians, although his humour was VERY 'Americanized' (no dry European wit) his timing an sense of self humor was truly European, th eocmbination was unforgettable.

He was great support for the troops, he was great support for the wives and families at home, he was just great support for humanity.

Often we hear about comedians being really strict finiky a-holes away from the camera, such as Bill Cosby who apparently has left quite a sordid life or hatred and abuse according to those who knew him personally. I don't ever remember hearing such things about Bob, he was just happy and supportive to ANYONE he was around, a true human being who will be missed dearly.

Sorry, but I hold him with much esteem, your reference got me thinking about the laughs and comedic influence he's given me.

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Good points

by jkaras In reply to Why vote? Why get involve ...

I do get your point on voting but you fail to understand why there is apathy. When you grew up everyone believed that politicians stood for somethimg and that your vote participated in the evolution of your country. That your voice was heard and represented. That was then when the vision of America worked, where anyone who is law abiding could afford a home, a car, put away for tomorrow regardless of the job you did. There was a belief of integrity of the people that made the decisions. This was before the world of credit.

Our world today is run by credit, money doesnt go far requiring you to run into debt to survive. The politicians get majority of their money from wealthy special interests that they owe their ascension to, look at Enron. Do you think for one instant that they are out of jail due to great lawyers, or due to owed favors from who's in charge? If you or I , johnny_nobody stole twenty bucks from someone we get our day in court to face the music REAL quick, have they seen any justice? What should the gen x'ers, the twenty somethings, and the thirty somethings believe in? Politicians have been lying to the public for votes not for change. Regardless of Republican or Democrat these so called capable leaders dont show up to voting for bills, meet clandestinely in locations to work deals rather in their offices as required, get caught up in money laundering scandals, drug scandals, arms scandals, sex scandals, wars over money/oil/testing their new toys/keeping in office so people dont vote for the opposition while at war and we are supposed to look up to these people? We see the world controlled by money not by the ideals that this country was founded on.

There are millions of hard working people that dutifly go to work pumping life into this country and they are repaid by over privledged politicans who crap on its people by not doing their job. Anyone of us would be fired in a heartbeat for not making a difference at our jobs, yet they get a pass as well as a celebrity lifestyle. When these big corporations cheat or layoff their employees that made them successful where is the government to protect it's people? I admit it is my/everyones responsibility to make it on their own to create a better life but all my hardwork doesnt mean anything when I get laid off so the company can boost profits and give the upper crust a raise for their "genious" plan to save the company. People in power havent respected nor appreciated who makes them and the anger and the apathy is the proof. PLay by the rules and get screwed, screw others and watch how far you go, thats a great lesson to teach the youth, help others till their is risk to you and then wash your hands (not my problem). Sorry for the rant but this is the world through a younger perspective who desires a decent car, home in a nice neighborhood, and a job to work. Thats all we want but we cant afford that life without debt that we will never be free from.

Lastly the comedians were some of the greatest that you mentioned. They were at a different time and doubt that they would still use the same humor in todays world. They also got the scare from Mc Carthyism that told them if they spoke out against the government they would be blacked balled as subversive communists. they would never dream of taking that risk. Gleason however, towards his remaining days made movies that pointed out bigotry and marrital issues that all was not well and I gained even more respect for him as an entertainer because of it. Do you think Carlin is a bad comedian for pointing out flaws in our society or a bad thing? Whether you like or dislike his humor it is the brutal honesty of whats going on and to question not fall in line like yesteryears mentality. He at least speaks honestly, which our government and bosses should do.

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Great message - Some comments

by maxwell edison In reply to Good points

jkaras, yours is a great message, and it brings up some excellent questions. If I may, I'd like to address them one at a time.

You said, "I do get your point on voting but you (I) fail to understand why there is apathy." Well, with all due respect, there's apathy because people choose to be apathetic, no more, no less. Moreover, if there really is the lack of integrity in our elected representatives, as you suggest there is (and I'm not necessarily agreeing with that notion), do you think that those in power would rather have an apathetic electorate or an involved one? By being apathetic, you're giving them what you suggest they want. Why would you want to do that? There's the old saying, I'll believe it when I see it. However, in many cases, the reverse is true, and instead, you'll see it when you believe it. If you believe that you are powerless against "the system", well guess what? You'll be powerless, no question about it. But if you really believe that one voice can indeed make a difference, especially if you consider that one voice plus one more voice plus one more voice, etc. can indeed "add up", then you have a much better chance of making that difference. Another old saying, whether you think you can or can't, you'll probably be right.

You said that things were different when I grew up. (I'm not THAT ancient, you know.) There's really no difference between the time I grew up and now. I was 7 years old, for example, when the John F. Kennedy campaign allegedly bought union votes in West Virginia, received votes from dead people in Illinois, participated in voter fraud in Texas, and benefited from electoral irregularities in Alabama, and as a result, barely won those four states by the thinnest of electoral margins. (Note: I said "alleged", even though there's more evidence to suggest voter irregularities in 1960 than there were forty years later.) Moreover, these things resulted in a very questionable assigning of both the popular votes and the electoral votes. The absence of any one of these questionable irregularities would have swung the election the other way. The final margin of victory in 1960 averaged only one vote per precinct nationwide. Does this all sound familiar? The only difference between then and now is that Al Gore challenged similar things in court (and ultimately lost his court challenge), whereas Richard Nixon, in 1960, conceded gracefully.

In addition to the 1960 election, political scandals are as old as politics itself. In fact, in many ways, the scandals of today pale in comparison to those of yesteryear. In 1800, for example, the presidential election between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr ended in a literal dead-heat. Alexander Hamilton persuaded the House of Representatives to name Burr Vice President while giving the Presidency to Jefferson. What eventually resulted was a dual of honor between Burr and Hamilton - yes, a real dual. The gun Hamilton used was fired but missed Burr. It has been proposed that Hamilton tried to gain an edge by using a gun with a hair-like trigger. If this is so, then he was either not ready, was nervous, missed on purpose, or was merely a bad shot. Burr took advantage of the miss, and shot Hamilton. This action ended Aaron Burr's political career, to be sure, but it ended Alexander Hamilton's life.

Fast forward fifty years to the uncivil war years, a political war to be sure. Fast forward another twenty years. President Grant's administration was plagued with scandal, bribes and pay-offs, all unbeknownst to President Grant. Fast forward another 50 years to the Warren Harding administration and the teapot dome scandal, a scandal about, of all things, OIL. Jump forward another couple of decades, and you'll see President Roosevelt trying to pack the Supreme Court. I suppose I did overlook some of the less colorful scandals, some alleged, some real, in almost all of the administrations in-between.

More on the rest of you message later.......

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As always Max...

by jkaras In reply to Great message - Some comm ...

you school me with your political savy and history. I do agree that apathy is a choice to not care/participate, I wont argue. My point for posting the tone of the youth is to point out that lies and corruption while its been happening since the dawn of time is getting out of hand. Todays world is far more complicated then a few decades ago with social, economic,education and technology. Everyone's attitude today is "what's in it for me?" Or "I'm lookin out for numero uno" Politicans to me are not passing legislation due to poorly written amendments etc.. but more due to which party will get the credit that will swing voters to the other party, so stagnation no investment in its people more of other countries.

These people accept and beg for an opprotunity to participate in creating a better tomorrow like a doctor, policeman, or priest. UNfortunately there are some bad apples that choose their vocation for the wrong reasons. Most people that I know understand that ratio of bad vs. good but it is getting out of hand that politicans are more bad then good. To me they are traitorist by making decisions based on votes for them or their party and not whats best for the country. They are a servant of the people and we the people give them power, they just are not using it properly. We can only choose not to vote for said person. Everytime we vote for the lesser of two evils we tell them go ahead continue to screw us over. To me by not voting we as a people united show them we mean business and that we will not stand for it any longer. It's our only equalizer. I would vote for any politican that said I screwed up and I'm ready to make good just give me a chance. I voted only once when I turned 18, unfortunately it was only a local election since there wasnt a presidential election. I did it because many died for that right and many countries dont have that right that was given to me through blood. I appreciate all that died or served regardless of the level of participation for that right and out of respect I excercised that right, but I didnt see anyone that said to me I'll make a difference. I feel it is disrespectful and counter productive to merly vote for someone who doesnt want to make a difference just so I can have the right to complain. In my opinion most vote merly due to monetary issues like taxes and not because this is the best person. My proof? Registered voters as either Republican or Democrat. If it is about the best person why take sides before you know the candidate? ("I'm a republican or I'm a Democrat")We are devolving as a society rather that evolving. (personal opinion mind you)

Politicans only give the smoke screen that they are for/against abortion, death penalty, yadda yadda to ease people's decision that they are voting about how they will be taxed. Even the Athiest president discussion rather disturbed me that it was personal belief vs. the right person for the job. Why is it that gov contracts always get bidded by ex cronies or ex companies of said offical? were the decisions made for the purpose of making money for the assisting in the election? Trust me I want to participate and make a difference and just because I dont vote doesnt diminsh the right to voice my discern for todays problems. If I voted for the other guy that didnt get elected do I still get to complain since I didnt put him into power? Does my taxes not count if so then am I exempt? that argument to me is a weak as todays excuses why the world cant change. Change today is far more apathetic then any voting, since very few people make an attempt.

By the way sorry for implying that you were ancient, being 33 hanging around with my friends that are younger they refer to me as the "fossil" among other nicknames. I seem to remember a previous posting that I inferred that you were my senior, as well as your informed postings that show wisdom making me assume your age. (yeah yeah assume where does that get you, lol)

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