ESTIMATED READING TIME: 10 MINUTES
This is the second article in our new series THE JOHN OLIVER TWIST, where we monitor tv's political comedians and hold them accountable. The original article, Court Jester as Propaganda Tool, can be found HERE.
There has been a great deal of chatter about John Oliver's latest episode of his HBO show Last Week Tonight and Oliver's "masterful takedown" of all things Donald Trump. I think the episode is noteworthy, but not for the same reason others seem to think so. I believe the episode is noteworthy because it lays bare, not just the vacuousness of Donald Trump, but also the vapidity of Brave Sir John and his flaccid humor.
The problem with Oliver's Drumpfening, is not that he attacked Donald Trump, who has been a boil on the ass of America for over thirty years, but rather that he only diagnosed the symptom (the boil) and not the disease (the corrupt establishment) from which it sprang. This is John Oliver's modus operandi, he zeros in on a very specific, and frankly, insignificant issue, and self-aggrandizingly beats it death, all the while whistling past the graveyard of the bigger looming issue. It is this larger issue, the disease if you will, that needs to be addressed, ridiculed and dissected, not the superficial symptom.
Oliver's Trump episode exposes his adamant and willful ignorance of the larger, more pressing issues from which these smaller issues come. The Egyptian economic crisis is a perfect example. Oliver made fun of Egyptian President el-Sisi and his opulent arrival via a $200,000 red carpet to an event where he tells Egyptians that there must be spending cuts to basic services in order to save money as the country goes through economic hardship. Oliver followed up with a scathing attack on a tongue-in-cheek el-Sisi speech where he tells Egyptians that they can "sell him" in order to raise money. It was funny because it is such an obvious display of corruption and narcissism on the part of El-Sisi. Oliver rightly took the leader to task for such nonsense. What Oliver didn't do…was take the United States to task for being the ones behind putting El-Sisi into power and keeping him there.
A brief history lesson shows us that the U.S. backed the brutal dictator Hosni Mubarek for decades until he was overthrown by the "Arab Spring" protests. A democratic election followed that put the Muslim Brotherhood in charge of Egypt. This was unacceptable to the U.S. and it's ally Israel, so the U.S. quickly went about undermining the Muslim Brotherhood's government and supported a coup by another military leader in the vein of Mubarek, this time with the aforementioned nefarious narcissist General el-Sisi. So Oliver shows what a venal and delusional leader el-Sisi is but ignores how and why he got into power in the first place. Brave Sir John also fails to mention that the US is backing el-Sisi, who besides being corrupt, is a savage tyrant who tortures and brutalizes the same democratic forces we once praised in Egypt. Because if Oliver pulled that particular string of inquiry into el-Sisi and Egypt, then he begins questioning the U.S. and the establishment, and Brave Sir John has proven that he will never, under any circumstances, take on or stand up to, the U.S. establishment in general, and its foreign policy in particular. Even though Brave Sir John wears the mask of the fearless rebel, he is actually a chickenshit sycophant whose actual job is to protect authority, never attack it.
Oliver followed the el-Sisi bit with his much adored Trump rampage. It was a very effective evisceration of the unscrupulously hollow man behind the Trump brand. But, regardless of whether you like Trump or not, there is a much deeper, and more relevant story behind him and his political rise than his obvious lies and despicable behavior. That story is…how in the hell did the Trump phenomenon even become possible in the first place?
The answer to that question is obvious to anyone with eyes to see. The political, media, financial, and corporate establishment of this country has spent years demeaning, belittling, exploiting and deceiving the populace for their own personal wealth and gain. No one trusts or should trust politicians, the government, the media, Wall Street or corporate America. The failure across the board of the establishment and its exploitation of the working class, is the fertile ground upon which the demagogue Trump gained his foothold and blossomed into a most unlikely voice for the forgotten.
It is not without a tremendous amount of irony that a silver-spooned, self-serving billionaire has become the symbol of the exploited. As Oliver points out, Trump's whole game is just pure bullshit, but so is John Oliver's, as Trumps lies are lies of commission, while Oliver's lies are lies of omission. Oliver never even attempts to pull the Trump weed at its root, instead preferring to pluck the dandelion by its Orange-haired head, insuring that the ground from which this toxic flower blossoms will never be held to account, guaranteeing that another, maybe even more repugnant, weed will bloom from the same soil the next time around.
Oliver's target audience, those on the political left and in the establishment, already loathe Trump with a fiery passion, so by simply taking down Trump, Oliver is just doing what he always does, reassuring his audience that they are really, really smart and superior, all the while making sure they never actually question the root causes of such problems, only their superficial existence.
Those...and please pardon the pun...Trumpeting Oliver's masterful annihilation of all things Trump are really only buttressing the trivial type of thinking from which a man like Trump can gain traction. It is a strange bit of political and intellectual Jiu Jitsu, but the reality is that Oliver's empty attack on Trump's shallowness will only reinforce the type of thinking, or more accurately, the shortcuts to thinking, that brought a man like Trump to political prominence in the first place. I doubt Oliver's minions will be self aware enough to break through their own sense of self-satisfaction to see that they are just as vacuous and mindless as the buffoons who praise and follow Trump. Both groups, those who love Trump and those who love Oliver, are embracing the easy, the simple and the thoughtless at the expense of the meaningful, the important and the sophisticated.
LITTLE BILL MAHER LOVES FELLATIO!!
A brief note on another impotent clown who wears the rebel mask but refuses to actually take on the powerful…Little Bill Maher. On Friday nights Realtime with Bill Maher, Maher shamelessly interviewed former NSA and CIA chief General Michael Hayden. The interview touched upon Hayden's new book, thoughts on surveillance and on the Apple/FBI battle over the iPhone of the San Bernadino shooters.
Little Bill Maher is, on his very best day, a third rate hack of a comedian and an intellectual dwarf. To his credit, Maher is very good at hosting "Realtime" and at keeping the show moving as his panels are usually populated by a collection of dullards so lacking in wit and insight as to be mind numbing. Watching a chimp smelling his own poop would be a vastly more entertaining and intellectually stimulating exercise.
In keeping with Little Bill's patty cake interview style that he used with propagandists Judith Miller and Kathryn Bigelow, Maher went the extra mile last week. Fridays interview with Hayden was nothing short of pornographic as Maher spent the entire interview fellating General Hayden on live television. Little Bill empathized with Hayden for doing such a hard job and never getting credit for it. BOO-HOO. Maher said that Americans demand better intelligence after a terror attack but then want less surveillance when no attacks have occurred. To Maher this showed how Americans are coddled and stupid, something Little Bill would know a lot about since he is a spoiled pampered dipshit. Little Bill even chastised his audience for cheering Apple for taking on the FBI.
What was really great was that Maher told his audience that they have no idea what a dangerous and scary world we live in because terrorists REALLY want a nuclear bomb and to set it off in America. OH NO….WITTEW BIWW IS SCAWED!!!! Maher sounded more like Dick Cheney's fluffer than an insurgent comedian.
Little Bill went on to say that the intelligence services only make the news when they don't stop an attack. He claimed that the NSA, CIA et al have stopped attacks, but that all of the attacks that they have stopped, and how they have "kept us safe" since 9-11, are not front page news. Maybe it isn't front page news because it isn't even remotely true. The idea that the NSA has kept us safe from any attacks and that is why they need such vast surveillance on regular Americans is a piece of steaming horse shit that has been debunked many times. Little Bill repeating that lie proves he is out to deceive, either his audience, himself, or both.
The NSA and other intelligence agencies have regularly lied to Congress and undermined our democracy by spying on ordinary Americans and on the U.S. Congress that is tasked with oversight of that same intelligence community that is doing the spying. Little Bill knows these things, but he chooses to ignore them in order to leave his pre-concoeved worldview unchallenged. Instead Maher lets his irrational hatred and fear of Muslims override the rational, easily observable facts on the subject of surveillance and the intelligence agencies.
Little Bill finished Fridays interview with the most egregious form of bootlicking imaginable when he gushed to General Hayden…"Thank you for you service." Thank you for your service? This to a man, General Hayden, who is an agent of tyranny, who has lied to congress about torture and committed numerous war crimes, one more heinous than the next.
Little Bill Maher is a shill for the establishment elite, who uses his position to fortify authoritarians and war criminals. It is amusing that Maher is so in lock step with the intelligence community in regards to surveillance since the most animated and aggressive he has ever been on television was when he physically ejected a bunch of 9-11 Truthers from his studio audience. Maybe someone should remind Little Bill that the intelligence agencies had lots and lots of surveillance on the 9-11 hijackers, yet did nothing to stop the attacks.
Someone should also tell Little Bill that more surveillance won't keep us safe. Being smarter about our foreign policy, and keeping our nose out of other people's business most certainly will. But that line of thinking doesn't mesh with Little Bill's nuanced world view which is Islam = Bad, US establishment = Good.
It is mealy-mouthed cowards like Little Bill Maher that make despots like Bush, Cheney and yes, even Donald Trump possible. Brownnosing Little Bill is willing to give up all of our liberties for the straw man of perfect security. What a wonderful couple…the straw man of perfect security and the boogie man of scary Muslim terrorists, maybe Little Bill can blow both of them when he's done with General Hayden. Little Bill Maher should grow a pair of balls and stop playing the rebel while he kisses establishment ass, and start actually being the rebel by kicking the establishment in the ass.