"Everything is as it should be."

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STEPHEN COLBERT HEADS FOR RUSSIA LOOKING FOR LAUGHS; HE'D FIND BETTER MATERIAL AT HOME

Estimated Reading Time : 5 minutes 08 seconds

Stephen Colbert likes telling jokes about Russian interference in the U.S. election. I’ve got a plan to help him vastly expand his comedy repertoire.

Funnyman Stephen Colbert, host of the accurately titled Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS, must be desperate for material. On Thursday and Friday of last week, he took a hiatus from his talk show to travel all the way to Russia to shoot some comedy bits he will use in later episodes of his program.

While in Moscow, Colbert appeared on a Russian late night television show hosted by Ivan Urgant that, like its American counterpart, is also very aptly titled, Evening Urgant.

On Mr. Urgant’s show, Colbert made the following declaration, “Ok. I am here to announce that I am considering a run for president in 2020, and I thought it would be better to cut out the middle man and just tell the Russians myself.”

Colbert traveling to Russia to make a joke about alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election is most certainly clever, if a bit much. I mean, it’s a mildly funny joke, I guess, but it certainly isn’t funny enough to travel 4,664 miles from New York to Moscow just for the gag. That is a frighteningly inefficient comedy rate in terms of laughs produced to miles traveled.

It begs the question though, is New York so devoid of comedic material that poor Colbert has to fly half way around the world to dig up some Boris and Natasha level cold war comedy on his expedition for giggles?

While I admire Colbert’s commitment in undertaking his Arthurian quest to scour the globe in a crusade for the ever-elusive comedy grail (or is it a fountain of eternal guffaws?), I wonder if there isn’t an easier way to get the chuckles Colbert so desperately desires.

I think I have a better idea, and since Colbert is so interested in all things Russia I assume he must be an avid RT reader, therefore I am going to share my brilliant scheme with him directly.

Mr. Colbert, may I call you Steve? No. How about Stephen? Okay, let’s just stick with Mr. Colbert.  Anyway, I have an idea that has the potential to save you precious time and travel expenses in your never-ending pursuit of comedy gold. Here it is.

Instead of traveling to Russia to make a “cut out the middle man” joke about Russian “interference” in the U.S. election, why not stay at home and have potential candidates from all of the countries that have had the U.S. meddle in their elections come visit you in The Big Apple?

For instance, you could have all of the future Ukrainian presidential hopefuls come to your New York studio and declare their intentions to run for office. Former Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland could be a guest at the same time, that way you can “cut out the middle man” of the Ukrainian voters and find out from the horses mouth who the U.S. will select to be leader of Ukraine. It will be uproariously funny because it’ll be like 2014 when the U.S. funded the anti-government protests, violence and coup which killed over a hundred people, which was followed by thousands more dying in the resulting civil war. 

I know what you’re thinking, that this is just a one-trick pony and the comedy will dry up once you do the Ukrainian election show. You couldn’t be more wrong, Mr. Colbert. You could follow up the Ukraine show by “cutting out the middle man” and having some Russians on your program so they can describe how the U.S. shamelessly interfered in their elections of 1996 in order to keep Boris Yeltsin in power and Russia in their back pocket? The U.S. intrusion into Russian politics in 1996 was so brazen it earned a Time magazine cover with the headline “Yanks to the Rescue: The secret story of how American advisers helped Yeltsin win”. You would have your fans rolling in the aisles once you showed them that Time cover. 

I know what you are thinking, the Ukrainian and Russian shows are masterful ideas, but demographically they are pretty…well…limited. But fear not, we can tap into the crucial Latino audience by having Honduran presidential hopefuls appear on your show too. They can recount how Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “cut out the middle man” by supporting and funding a right wing military coup in 2009 to overthrow Manuel Zelaya, the center-left, democratically elected president of Honduras. Maybe you could have Secretary Clinton on as well, it isn’t like she has anything else to do with her time, and she can tell you how she refused to call the brutal takeover a coup in order to skirt U.S. laws and to continue to send financial and military aid to the usurpers. Now that right there would be some top-notch political “interference” comedy.

Frankly, Mr. Colbert, I think you should do a whole Latin America week, where you host potential candidates from all across Central and South America where the U.S. has consistently undermined democracy. Well, I guess a week wouldn’t be long enough, how about Latin America month? To the delight of your adoring fans you could rehash America’s notorious history of supporting anti-democratic, right-wing military takeovers with their accompanying death squads and disappearances in Brazil and the Dominican Republic in the 1960’s, Argentina and Chile in the 1970’s, El Salvador and Panama in the 1980’s, Haiti in the 1990’s, Venezuela in 2002 and the list goes on and on.

We won’t just focus on Latin American countries either. You want to target the Asian audience? No problem. You will start that topic off by doing a Vietnam bit that will kill! Maybe not kill as much as America’s ill-fated war in the jewel of Southeast Asia, but that is an extremely high bar to clear.

In regards to Vietnam, it is apropos that you do your show in Ed Sullivan’s old theater at 1600 Broadway, because Ed himself could have been the first to do this “cut out the middle man” joke back in his day if he had Vietnamese presidential hopeful Ngo Dinh Diem on his show in 1953 when the U.S hand-picked him to run his country and rigged the election to ensure his victory. Ed could’ve skillfully delivered the gut busting punch line about how in 1963 Diem fell out of favor with his American overlords and the U.S. had him summarily assassinated…talk about cutting out the middle man!

Continuing with the Asian theme, you could absolutely slay if you did shows on Indonesia, Laos and Cambodia and how America’s meddling in those countries eventually resulted in homicide on a catastrophic scale.

I think the showstopper of the “cutting out the middle man” bit will be when you host Iranians who survived the CIA-bakced overthrow of Mossadegh in 1953 and lived under the brutal rule of the American installed Shah until 1979.

I am also sure there’s a bonanza of humor a comedy genius like yourself can find in the history of U.S. meddling in Iraq too, where we first installed Saddam, then later deposed him, killing hundreds of thousands, if not a million, Iraqis in the process. Your audience will be splitting their sides laughing when Iraqi presidential hopefuls come, hat in hand, to your studio asking America to “elect” them to rule their ancient land.

I know, you’re right, people are sick of Iraq, but you can always focus on Egypt instead, where the U.S. supported dictator Hosni Mubarek for decades, and after he was toppled in 2011 during the Arab Spring and replaced by Mohamed Morsi in the democratic elections of 2012, the U.S. did what it does best and “cut out the middle man” by backing a coup against Morsi in 2013 and replacing him with General el-Sisi, a military strongman just like Mubarek.

And while you’re clowning about U.S. interference in the Middle East, please don’t forget Libya, Lebanon and (American fingers crossed) the current situation in Syria too! The Middle East is a region that is particularly ripe with the delicious comedy fruits of U.S. intervention that you can pluck to hysterical effect.

I’ve got to be honest Steve…oops, I mean Mr. Colbert, with your comedic talent and skill you can turn America’s long history of anti-democratic violence and coups into a veritable goldmine of comedy. I am literally crying right now I’m laughing so hard at all of the jokes I imagine you’ll conjure up about how many times the U.S. has “cut out the middle man” in foreign elections. I would be willing to bet that the millions of people across the globe who live in the countries where America has interfered in their politics have tears in their eyes as well…they just aren’t from laughing.

This article was originally published on Friday June, 30, 2017 at RT.

©2017

 

Trump - Griffin Scandal Underscores American Celebrity-Obsessed Culture

Estimated Reading Time : 5 minutes 38 seconds

Last week, comic and attention-whore Kathy Griffin posted a photo on social media of her holding the bloody, decapitated head of President Trump. The ensuing outrage was not the least bit surprising and was exactly what everyone involved craved.

When I first heard of the uproar over Kathy Griffin’s infamous Trump photo, I hesitated even reading the story because I didn’t want to feed Ms. Griffin’s ravenous hunger for fame. But Hollywood is my beat, so I reluctantly dove into the story.

My first impression upon seeing the controversial photo was to be startled by the grotesque face with vacant eyes staring back at me, I then realized that vile and surgically contorted mug was Ms. Griffin’s and that she was holding a cheap replica of Donald Trump’s head, severed and bloody.

Kathy Griffin, for those that are lucky enough to not have heard of her, is a talentless hack of a comedienne. A sad desperation seeps through her every pore, proof of which is her myriad of plastic surgeries and her aspiration to be a D-list celebrity. While Griffin is devoid of any and all talent, she is not entirely without skill, her lone proficiency being the ability to tirelessly and shamelessly promote herself.

Griffin’s “career” is littered with one self-serving stunt after another. She’s been banned from the television shows The View, Today and Late Night with David Letterman for her crude and obnoxious behavior. After this Trump photo controversy, she can now add CNN’s New Years Eve special, which she co-hosted with Anderson Cooper, as among the growing number of shows where she is no longer welcome.

Reading up on the Griffin story left me irritated, frustrated and fatigued. Once again some dopey celebrity was giving aid and comfort to Trump, a man I abhor, by diverting attention away from his catastrophic administration, and instead focusing it on their mind-numbing idiocy.

As Napoleon once said, “Never interfere with your enemy when he is making a mistake”, Hollywood liberals would be wise to stop ignoring Mr. Bonerpart’s sage advice.

Whether it be Madonna at the Women’s March, or Snoop Dogg and his Klump video, or Stephen Colbert and his “holster” joke, or Ms. Griffin and her ISIS-inspired photo shoot, the left-wing out here on the left coast keeps giving Trump a welcome distraction from his floundering presidency. With the President embroiled in a series of crippling investigations, leaks and a stalled agenda, now would be a great time for the liberal opposition to keep their mouths shut and let Trump get on with his self-immolation. But no, the temptation of attention is too great for those who endlessly thirst for it.

Which brings me to my central point, Kathy Griffin despises Donald Trump, but she is exactly like Donald Trump. Both Griffin and Trump have made a name for themselves by doing anything and everything to make a name for themselves.

They are both reality television stars, Griffin on My Life on the D-List and Trump on The Apprentice. Both of them require fame and attention like the rest of us do oxygen, and they both will do just about anything for it. Griffin once had a pap smear by a pool on her television show, and performed simulated oral sex on Anderson Cooper in Times Square. Trump has a long history with WWE professional wrestling, appeared fully clothed in a pornographic film, and has attached his name to everything from a scam university to steaks. Both of them have shown an astonishing ability to debase themselves and a remarkable shamelessness in their pursuit of fame.

This Griffin-Trump photo story is a perfect microcosm of all that is currently wrong with our celebrity obsessed culture and politics. You could have easily foretold the way this entire episode would play out from start to finish.

Kathy Griffin quickly apologized when the uproar over her photo became deafening, and then Trump jumped at the chance to play the victim. Both he and Melania made statements bemoaning how their 11 year-old son, Baron, was horrified by the photo.

Not to be outdone in the race for the crown of victimhood, on Friday Griffin held a tearful and defiant press conference with her press-hound lawyer Lisa Bloom, claiming that Trump and his family were bullying her and that she had received death threats. This script is as predictable as an episode of Real Housewives, but not nearly as dignified.

The reality is that both Griffin and Trump want this story to go on for as long as it possibly can because they both benefit from it. Trump gets a distraction from his disastrous presidency and bad press, and Griffin gets people talking about her, which is her lifeblood.

Caravaggio's "David with the Head of Goliath" (c.1610) - on display at the Galleria Borghese

Caravaggio's "David with the Head of Goliath" (c.1610) - on display at the Galleria Borghese

As I kept reading about this story and seeing the photo attached to each article, one of my favorite paintings, David with the Head of Goliath (c. 1610) by Italian Baroque master Caravaggio, came to mind. The reason I thought of Caravaggio’s painting is that in his work David holds aloft the decapitated head of the slain Goliath, much like Griffin holds the bloody head of Trump in her now infamous photo. Caravaggio painted multiple versions of this same event over his lifetime, but the one that has always moved me was the one currently hanging in the Galleria Borghese in Rome. I love this panting so much I actually made a pilgrimage to Rome a few years ago with the express purpose of seeing it. Witnessing the painting in person did not disappoint, as Caravaggio’s supreme talent and transcendent work resonated deep in my soul. What makes this painting so fascinating, besides the masterful skill required for its creation, is the subtext of the story it reveals.

In the painting, Goliath’s lifeless face is also that of the artist, Caravaggio at the time of creating this masterpiece. It is also said that the face of David in the painting is that of a young Caravaggio. And unlike Caravaggio’s other renderings of this scene (the one on display in Vienna for instance), in the Borghese version, David is not triumphant, or proud of his conquest of Goliath, rather he looks down at the giant’s lifeless head with “an expression of sadness and compassion”. Caravaggio’s David with the Head of Goliath is not only a depiction of the story of David’s victory over Goliath, but of Caravaggio’s own struggle against his inner demons.

In relation to the current scandal du jour, it would have been much more interesting if Kathy Griffin and photographer Tyler Shields had the artistic vision and courage to eschew the usual attempt at trying to muster shock and garner attention, and instead recognized that Griffin and Trump are both symptoms of the same disease, celebrity, that ravages America, and let that fact be reflected in their work.

For instance, if Kathy Griffin had been photographed dressed as young David, with a sword in her right hand and her left her breast exposed (in order to mimic the painting and supply the titillation both she and Shields crave) while wearing a Trump wig, as she looks down with “an expression of sadness and compassion” at Trump’s decapitated head in her outstretched hand, then Griffin and Shields would be saying something both artistically and politically worthwhile. The symbolism of the eternally vapid Griffin mournfully understanding that Trump, the Goliath of vacuity, is just a larger version of herself, might awake America from its collective cultural and political madness.

That is what great art does and why it is so vital, it reveals a larger truth that resonates both personally and collectively for its audience. Instead, Griffin and Shields went the cheap and vacuous route in their photo shoot searching for the instant gratification of agitation and satiating their adolescent emotional needs rather than the more difficult, but ultimately rewarding, work of telling an artistic truth.

What makes Caravaggio’s painting so exquisite is that it is a work of artistic introspection that tells an uncomfortable truth about both its creator and all of humanity, while the Griffin and Shields photo is one of shallow projection meant to allow the artist to continue to lie to themselves.

Griffin and Shields lack of self-awareness does tell a wider story about narcissism run amok in America, but unintentionally, and that worthy revelation is only born out of the artists own unconsciousness and not out of any artistic vision or insight.

What our emaciated culture and politics truly need right now is a lot more Caravaggio, and a lot less Kathy Griffin. Sadly, as we spiral deeper into a new Dark Age fueled by our insipid celebrity obsession, there are no signs of a cultural and political Renaissance on the horizon. We are stuck with the culture, and the politicians that we have dutifully earned and so rightly deserve. Kathy Griffin and Donald Trump are living proof of that.

This article was previously published on Saturday June 3, 2017 at RT.

©2017

Colbert Attacks Trump, Was it Homophobic? Hysterical? Or Both?

Estimated Reading Time : 4 minutes and 27 seconds

Late night talk show host Stephen Colbert sparked a controversy last week with an anti-Trump joke some deemed homophobic. Reactions from across the political spectrum reveal much of what ails modern America.

Colbert, host of CBS’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, took aim at President Trump during his monologue on Monday night. Angered by Trump’s walking out of an interview with CBS reporter John Dickerson, host of Face the Nation, which Trump flaccidly re-titled “Deface the Nation”, Colbert laid into the president with a scorching barrage of jokes.

Colbert’s anti-Trump screed went as follows, “Sir, you attract more skinheads than free Rogaine. You have more people marching against you than cancer. You talk like a sign language gorilla that got hit in the head. In fact, the only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c**k holster.”

It is that Putin-oral sex joke at the end that has stirred calls of homophobia. As a result, the hashtag #firecolbert started trending on twitter Tuesday night into Wednesday. Alt-right firebrand Mike Cernovich added fuel to the fire by tweeting his followers video of Colbert making other off-color sexual jokes about Trump and Putin, and the story grew from there.

Colbert gave a non-apology apology on his show Wednesday night, where he said, “if you saw my monologue Monday, you know that I was a little upset at Donald Trump for insulting a friend of mine. So at the end of that monologue I had a few choice insults for the president in return. I don’t regret that. He, I believe, can take care of himself. I have jokes; he has the launch codes. So, it’s a fair fight. So, while I would do it again, I would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be.”

The #firecolbert camp is, according to some, made up of Trump supporters with a few liberals and members of the LGBTQ community sprinkled in. The argument of the #firecolbert movement is two fold, first is that Colbert should be fired because the joke in question is homophobic since it implies that gay sex is shameful and demeaning, and second because the offending joke was much too vulgar for network television and disrespectful of the presidency.

In regards to the charges of Colbert’s indecency and disrespect, Trump supporters being offended by that is like someone making it rain outside and then complaining about the weather. Trump may be the most crude and crass politician to have ever soiled the public square. It is pretty disingenuous to get upset at a comic for telling a ribald joke when you tolerate your candidate saying he will “bomb the s**t” out of people, or that he can grab women by their genitals whenever he wants. Trump also never failed to be disrespectful of the presidency when President Obama held the office. If Trump’s boorishness and impudence towards Obama didn’t offend his supporters during the campaign, than it is a bit rich of them to feign indignation at Colbert’s discourtesy now.

It is also pretty tough to swallow, no pun intended, Trump supporters being upset over homophobic remarks when Trump’s political incorrectness was his main appeal to many who backed him. Add to that the right’s historical discomfort with gay rights and you are left with the impression that Trump supporter’s dislike of Colbert’s homophobia is little more than political opportunism.

What this is really about for those on the right is not homophobia or vulgarity, but wanting the scalp of a popular liberal icon to boost their cause, just like the left yearned for the firing of Bill O’Reilly in order to get in a dig at Trump. The fact that Colbert, who made a name for himself masterfully satirizing and mocking O’Reilly from 2005 to 2014 on his old show The Colbert Report, is now facing calls for his own ouster weeks after his comedy inspiration O’Reilly failed to survive a similar campaign, is one of the delicious ironies of this entire episode. A case of art imitating life imitating art, an example of the madhouse that is our popular and political culture at the moment.

But let’s not kid ourselves, the stench of hypocrisy wafting through the air in regards to Colbert’s situation does not only originate from Trump supporters.

The Advocate, a leading LGBTQ magazine, quickly put out an article in defense of Colbert that stated, in essence, the homophobia of his joke was fine solely because it was aimed at Donald Trump. The liberal and gay establishment shamelessly signing off on Colbert’s homophobia because it targets Trump, leaves them guilty of the same insincerity as their right wing counter parts.

 

Imagine for a moment, if someone had said something similar regarding President Obama, the liberal outrage machine, always on the lookout for any slight or slur, would have gone into overdrive screaming homophobia, The Advocate loudest of all.

If you make the argument for political correctness, as the left consistently does, that words matter, then that means they matter all the time, regardless of at whom they are aimed. Liberals have been up in arms over nearly everything Trump says and tweets, most times rightfully so, but you cannot hold your opponent to one standard and yourself to another and maintain any semblance of moral authority.

Not all members of the LGBTQ community have taken Colbert’s alleged homophobia so lightly. Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Glenn Greenwald, a gay man, has been deeply disturbed by the left’s use of homophobic taunts to attack Trump from the get go. Greenwald responded to Colbert’s joke and the lack of anger from the left by tweeting, “homophobia for the right cause, with the right targets, is good homophobia, apparently.”

Greenwald is the most rare of creatures in public life, a person with intellectual integrity. That said, while I agree with Greenwald about the hypocrisy of those on the left, I vehemently disagree with his discomfort over Colbert’s joke. Most importantly because it was a joke, albeit a harsh one that was funny and well-executed.  

Secondly, the question is, was the joke too vulgar? Of course it was, but crying foul over vulgarity in our current culture is like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500, it is a fool’s errand at best. If you’re looking to scorn the indecent in America, throw a rock in the air, you’ll hit someone guilty.

The crux of the matter is this, was the joke homophobic? To some, like Greenwald, the answer is a resounding yes, and I respect his opinion on such things. But even if it is deemed homophobic by Greenwald and others, should Colbert be punished for saying it? My answer is an emphatic no.

We have many rights in America, but the right to NOT be offended isn’t one of them. We have become much too delicate when it comes to the spoken and written word. People need to screw their courage to the sticking place and stop being so sensitive. We are all too quick to take external offense at the words of others and much too slow to introspection and rumination. In the battle between freedom of speech and protecting feelings, I’ll take freedom of speech every single time.

Political correctness has ruled the day for the last decade, and it has done nothing to stop the scourge of coarseness and incivility that has infected our society. Our culture sinks to new lows and becomes more base daily, and policing speech and protecting from offense has done nothing to make us more civil, in fact, it has only exacerbated the problem. President Trump and his opposition are damning evidence of that.

This Colbert brouhaha is one of those cases where many things are true all at once. It is true that both the Trump supporting #firecolbert folks and Colbert’s liberal defenders reek of self-serving hypocrisy. It is also true that people with pure and good intentions, like Glenn Greenwald, can be offended by Colbert’s joke but still be misguided in their hyper-sensitivity.

As difficult as it at times may be, we must let people, comedians most of all, say what they want to say, and short of violent speech, we should learn to be comfortable with our discomfort when others offend us.

Why should comedians most of all be allowed free expression? Comedians play a vital role in keeping a society mentally and emotionally healthy. Comedians are meant to hold the psychological shadow, all of our darker thoughts and impulses, for the culture’s collective unconscious. If we don’t give comedians wide berth and freedom to say all the things that are taboo and offensive, then our shadow will most certainly find another voice through which to express itself. The next thing you know, it won’t be comedians saying all the things we aren’t supposed to say, but politicians, some of whom will have the launch codes. 

This article was originally published on Saturday May 6, 2017 at RT.

©2017

THE JOHN OLIVER TWIST : Court Jester As Propaganda Tool

****ESTIMATED READING TIME : 15 MINUTES****

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS QUESTIONABLE LANGAUGE. READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED!! CONSIDER THIS YOUR OFFICIAL TRIGGER WARNING…MOTHERFUCKERS!!

On a Sunday night last April, after finishing a session with my final client of the day (yes, I work on Sundays!!), I heated up some chicken and pasta, plopped myself down on the couch and tuned in to John Oliver's HBO weekly comedy show "Last Week Tonight". Oliver's main topic was the Internal Revenue Service, which makes sense since this was that most dreaded time of the year, tax time. Oliver's premise was that the I.R.S. is hated, but desperately needed, and terribly underfunded. He made the analogy that the I.R.S. is the "anus of the country", saying "you may not like to talk about it but you really need it to work." It's a clever anal-ogy*, which was no surprise since John Oliver is nothing if not clever…and an asshole.

*anal-ology…GET IT? See how clever I was there?

To start at the beginning, I am one of those rare people who through the years have not religiously watched Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show". Nor did I watch much of Stephen Colbert's "The Colbert Report". I am in a tiny minority in the world I inhabit when it comes to my viewing habits of Comedy Central political shows, I readily admit that. I'm not sure exactly sure why, I have nothing against either man, but I just never thought, or remembered, to watch their shows. Regardless, I only rarely watched, and because of that I was not familiar with John Oliver.

When John Oliver's HBO show came out, I missed the entire first season. The biggest reason I missed it is probably the same reason I didn't watch "The Daily Show", namely, because it never occurred to me to watch. Coming in a very close second for why I missed it is…I didn't have HBO at the time, so I was incapable of watching. I was aware of the show though because the media was gushing in its praise of the program and of Oliver. Nearly every media outlet did glowing pieces on Oliver, ebullient in their praise of him and the show, calling it, "smart, funny and insightful!" 

In no time at all, "Last Week Tonight" became a big hit and Oliver the darling of the hipster/intellectual/cool kid set. The mainstream media slobbered all over him, adorning him with the type of praise once only reserved for Saint Jon Stewart, the Patron Saint of Thinking People Everywhere™.  It was at this point that I got HBO, so the John Oliver option was suddenly on the table. So, I decided to check out "This Week Tonight" and see what all the fuss was about.

Season two of "Last Week Tonight"  started off innocuously enough, or so I thought. Oliver made fun of some racist tweets made by the Argentinian president while on her trip to China. He also talked about the closing of Radio Shack and the Republican congressman who decorated his office like Downton Abbey. It was clever enough if not a bit cloying, but as expected it was funny in a "man shooting fish in a barrel", substance-free way. In my opinion it was amusing enough, but not very "insightful". Oliver finished the show by doing a seemingly mundane bit about Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa. The bit included a video of Correa hosting a live talk show where he answers questions from the audience and pontificates on whatever topic he feels like. In the video, Correa (in Spanish, or as they say in Spanish, En Espanol) singled out a young Ecuadorian man who had tweeted that he wished President Correa were dead. Correa gave out the young man's name to his audience and told people to flood the mans Facebook and Twitter accounts. John Oliver excoriated Correa for bullying the poor, young man. He then showed a funny, weird and completely out of context clip of a creepy clown embracing Correa during one of these live talk shows. Oliver relentlessly mocked Correa, and he did it very, very well.  

After the show ended, out of pure curiosity, I looked Correa up on the internet. I knew nothing about him and frankly, very little about Ecuador. I was pretty shocked too see what kind of a man Correa was and what he had accomplished in his life. Correa isn't the tin-pot dictator and bully Oliver made him out to be, not in the least. Here are some of the highlights of Correa's public life. After resigning in protest over corruption as finance minister from the previous administration and being widely regarded as the most respected and trusted person in the country, he was voted into the Presidency in 2006 and took office in 2007. Upon becoming President, Correa immediately poked his finger into the eye of the IMF (International Monetary Fund), The World Bank, and the U.S. He declared Ecuador's national debt illegitimate since it was contracted by corrupt and despotic prior regimes. Correa then said that Ecuador would default on $3 Billion worth of bonds. He pledged to fight creditors in international court and reduced the price of outstanding bonds by 60%. He then refused to renew the U.S. lease of Eloy Alfaro Air Base in Manta, Ecuador, thus ending the U.S. military presence in the country. If Correa wanted to make enemies, he certainly succeeded. He not only made enemies, he made enemies with the most powerful country, military and financial institutions in the world. To make matters worse, for the U.S. anyway, Correa greatly reduced Ecuador's rampant unemployment and poverty, solidifying his popularity in the country. 

In addition to all that, Correa also took on foreign oil companies because they failed to meet environmental and investment regulations. He restructured the country's finances in order to increase spending on social programs, rather than on foreign debt, and set out to protect and support the indigenous Quechua Indians of Ecuador, a long brutalized people. In other words, Correa was a champion for justice and for the people of Ecuador. These might be things that John Oliver's audience might want to know about the man, but Brave Sir John Oliver had no interest in informing his audience, only propagandizing them.

If you still think Brave Sir John was doing the right thing by calling out Correa for his "bullying" of a citizen who was wishing him dead, you should look more closely at the historical context of Correa's comments. A brief perusal of South and Central American history shows us that colonialism has devastated the continent. Up to and including this century, the U.S. has been behind some of the most brutal and insidious policies in the region. Correa is an Ecuadorean nationalist, which means the U.S. government, military, Wall Street and Oil companies hate him, because he puts the Ecuadorian people first. When you see John Oliver ridiculing Rafael Correa for being a "bully" when someone publicly states they want to see him dead, keep in mind the history of U.S. backed assassination of people like fellow Ecuadorian President Jaime Roldos and Panamanian President Omar Torrijos to name just two of many, or the U.S. backed coups and wars that litter South and Central American history (Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras to name a few). Then keep in mind it is not Correa who is the bully.

John Oliver is the weapon used those by those in power to ridicule Correa in the eyes of the mostly liberal Americans who, if they knew anything about him, would, or should, greatly admire him. But now Correa is little more than a punchline, and if and when he is 'killed in a plane crash', or 'overthrown by a popular revolt', or 'hangs himself in his jail cell'* or a civil war or coup breaks out in Ecuador, Americans, liberal Americans in particular, will just nod and say "hey, thats that despotic clown we saw on John Oliver". The man who stood up for his country and the weakest of its people, and wouldn't be bullied by military or corporate empire is now a joke. Mission accomplished John Oliver, true dissent from the American establishment group-think, is now strangled in the cradle.

Oliver is just the newest propaganda tool of the American Empire, at home and abroad. So when Oliver was mocking Correa, he was intentionally doing the IMF's, World Bank's, U.S. Government's, Military's, Wall Street's and the Oil Company's dirty work. Way to go Brave Sir John, instead of bullying the bullies, you are bullying for the Bullies. Good work. 

John Oliver's greatest skill as host of "Last Week Tonight" is in reassuring his audience that they are, in fact, as smart as they think they are, and most definitely smarter than everyone else. What Oliver is really doing with his show is inoculating his audience from thinking critically. Oliver serves up the very bitter pill of American Empire and Citizen Subservience wrapped in a delicious serving of liberal red meat. His audience is too enamored with it's own delusions of superiority to realize that they are, in fact, just like those ridiculous Fox News viewers they love to hate, in that they too are gullible rubes lapping up gobs of American Imperialism by the bucketload. What the hell am I talking about? How can everyone's favorite, goofy, Brit really be a propaganda tool? That's how propaganda works. If it is obvious, it isn't any good. "Last Week Tonight" is really good propaganda because the show, and its host John Oliver pretend to be truth tellers against propaganda.

Oliver sells himself as the brave and noble truth teller, a much needed check to the power of the mainstream media. But Oliver only mimics speaking truth to power and standing up for the little guy. He appears to plant his flag on the high ground of rational thought, moral superiority and common sense, and waves it with a robust sense of self-satisfaction. This is all little more than theatrics though, because the reality is that John Oliver doesn't speak truth to power, he is merely a puppet of power, a useful idiot, a weapon they use to pacify and control those who believe themselves to be well informed and deeply critical thinkers. The stark truth is that John Oliver doesn't stand up for the little guy, he consistently kisses up and kicks down. And as for being a symbol of rational thinking, Oliver instead waves a red flag of emotion in front of liberals in order to get them on his side and then feeds them misinformation, disinformation and propaganda while they are in their highly emotional state.

"Last Week Tonight's" formula is obvious to any one with a nose for media manipulation, and it executes that formula with a surgical precision week in and week out. Oliver lures 'intellectuals' in with a wonkish bit on a very specific topic, be it infrastructure, the I.R.S., FIFA, NCAA, voting rights in U.S. territories or patents, and then, like a pied piper, once he gets the viewer hooked, he leads them to the establishment narrative he really wants to sell them, usually in the form of a foreign policy or intelligence issue, and they, wanting to not be seen as stupid, unquestioningly accept the story he is selling. If you also notice, when Brave Sir John does critique something "American", it is always and every time a critique of a that very specific thing, and never a critique of America. 

Another thing to take notice of are what type of targets and topics Brave Sir John decides to take on. Just as a quick example of how Brave Sir John earned that nickname...he has taken on both FIFA and the NCAA, two organizations that are universally loathed by every single person who has even the most remote knowledge of them, with the handful of corrupt men running them being the lone exceptions. Another example of Brave Sir John's tremendous, steadfast courage was when he took on both racism (he literally said "fuck racism!!" in regards to Ferguson, Missouri, I shit you not) and cigarette companies. Taking on racism and cigarette companies!! What truly brave stance to take…IN 1964.

Regardless of Brave Sir John's weak kneed choices in segment topics, he never fails to to be a propaganda tool when it comes to the issues that really count. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. So let's take a taste of John Oliver's rotten and rancid pudding, shall we, and see what we come up with. 

On episode two of season two, Oliver followed up his initial mocking of Correa with another flurry of attacks prompted by Correa actually defending himself against Oliver's baseless buffoonery the week before.

Episode three had Oliver belittling another countries finance minister, this time Greece, who had the temerity to take on the IMF. What a strange coincidence? Three episodes into season three and John Oliver had attacked enemies of the IMF on all three episodes. In this episode, he said Greece's finance minister looked like "Pitbull's uncle", looked "slimy" and probably smelled like "scented lube". All very funny stuff, but once again he was attacking the underdog, not the big bad bully of colonialism and empire. There is comedy to be found in the horror of the Greek economy, but it isn't the cheap kind at the expense of its finance minister. Why didn't Oliver make fun of Goldman Sachs engineering the whole Greek fiasco and then looting the public coffers once Greece was bailed out? Or JP Morgan? Why not make fun of the IMF, which basically ran an extortion racket that oversaw the entire Greek collapse? Is that not funny to John Oliver? Would his self described intellectual audience not "get it", like they "get" his making fun of the way the finance minister dresses and looks? Why not make fun of Germany for accomplishing what Hitler never did, conquering and ruling all of Europe without having to fire a single shot, by bailing out their reckless banks at the expense of the Greeks? The reason why Oliver wouldn't take that approach to the issue is obvious, it is contrary to the narrative the establishment is feeding the populace. Oliver's job is not to challenge the establishment narrative, but to reinforce it.

Episode three turned out to be a propaganda tour-de-force, as it also gave us Oliver's brave and cutting edge stance on Ukraine. His stance, not surprisingly, is identical to the mainstream media's and U.S. governments official stance…that EVIL PUTIN™ started that horrific war. What a brave and shocking stance to take!! The real comedy here is that anyone with the slightest bit of sense, curiosity and courage knows that the U.S. intelligence community started the Maidan protests and the civil war in Ukraine. The U.S. planned, funded and executed the whole thing, from soup to nuts. In a genuine piece of comedy completely ignored by Brave Sir John, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was caught on tape during one of her phone calls saying as much. Even some Government-friendly media outlets like the BBC have reported that the snipers on rooftops at the Maidan who shot and killed protestors, weren't government forces, but rather some shadowy group attached to the protesters who were trying to start a revolution.

A great way to smell an establishment rat is to listen to them when they speak of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The U.S. has been at war with Russia for at least the bunch of years. The war started out purely in the form of propaganda (remember the Socchi Olympics and the media assault on all things Russian?), and has now morhped into a proxy shooting war in Ukraine and Syria. As many people who have senselessly died in these terrible wars, one of the greatest casualties has been the truth. There is, believe it or not, comedy to be found in Ukraine, Syria, Putin et al, but it is in the way the establishment group-think has to contort reality in order to make it fit their preconceived narrative. John Oliver is more than happy to ignore the contorting, and just mouth the same old party line in regards to these deadly serious issues. 

Now, you may be thinking, wait, Putin is a tyrant and a monster!! He wants the Soviet Union to come back and he wants to dominate Europe!! Look, I am not making the case that Putin is some saint, but like Correa, he is a true nationalist, and he is certainly not half of what the U.S. media and officialdom have painted him to be. For instance, there have been multiple accusations by the powers that be here in the U.S. that Putin has sent Russian troops into Ukraine. The problem is that there is no proof of this. It would be nice to have proof, because, as I am fond of saying, "proof proves things." But the charge has been made so often that it is now taken for granted that it is reality. It isn't reality, it is establishment fiction and propaganda.

The same is true of MH- 17, the plane shot down over Ukraine, killing all aboard. The U.S. said in the immediate aftermath of the shoot down that it had proof that Russia or Russian backed separatists shot down the plane. Again, there is no proof of this, and for some strange reason, the U.S. seems to have lost it's evidence because out hasn't released it. Maybe Russians did shoot the plane down, but there is no PROOF that they did. "Proof proves things!"  But again, this charge has been repeated so often by the media and establishment that it is taken as completely true.

The charge that Putin had a second rate political rival, Boris Nemtsov, assassinated in Moscow also became a part of the establishment narrative, and not surprisingly, there is no proof that is true ( Remember..."Proof proves things!!"), nor is there much logical sense to the accusation when you take Nemtsov's lack of political standing or threat to Putin into the equation. That didn't stop John Oliver on episode 4, from doing an entirely predictable bit about it though, that was completely uncritical of the U.S. official narrative. John Oliver, if he so wished, could have a field day holding the U.S. government's feet to the fire regarding their statements and actions in regards to Russia and Putin, but he has no interest in doing that. His only interest is in buttressing the story being told by those in power because he is not a truth teller, he is a lap-dog to power.

The most glaring example of Oliver being an incurious lap-dog for the establishment, was when he travelled to Russia and interviewed whistleblower Edward Snowden. The interview was so confrontational, and so obviously a piece of contrived propaganda that I was left slack jawed at the audacity of it. The propaganda script was easy to see from the get-go as Oliver started off the bit by playing like he was scared to death by just being in Russia. He was, in particular, very frightened because…shudder...across the way was the old KGB building from back in the Soviet Union days. He quivered like a nubile starlet in a horror film at the thought that the KGB, which has been defunct for over twenty years, might come and get him. He also was worried that they were 'eavesdropping'  and 'listening' to his conversations, even going so far as to talk to the imaginary microphones hidden in the room. This was particularly odd since the Russians aren't the ones who are proven to eavesdrop, THE U.S.. is the country that does that!! "Proof proves things…like NSA spying!!"

For some reason, Oliver also played up the drama that Snowden was an hour late for the interview. This was so strange as Oliver made it seem like a huge piece of intrigue, but the reality is that people sometimes get stuck in traffic, it happens. But Oliver made it out to be an intensely dramatic moment which was odd in and of itself. When Snowden showed, Oliver proved himself to be an even bigger douchebag than I had already thought he was. He proceeded to be completely adversarial, and frankly rude, to Snowden, even holding him accountable for the New York Times screwing up an article and putting out some classified information on ISIS in Mosul. He blamed Snowden for the mistake and called the situation a "major fuck up". This is just the most twisted and tortured sort of anti-logic imaginable, but it is right in line with the contortions propaganda salesmen routinely peddle. You see…according to Oliver, the U.S. government reads all our emails and listens to our phone calls, but Snowden is the bad guy because THE NEW YORK TIMES FUCKED UP. Got it, thanks again Brave Sir John for the "insight".

Things went downhill from there as Oliver proceeded to minimize the importance of the information Snowden released because it was "too complex" for regular people to really understand. He also dropped in a beauty of a throw away statement, namely that Julian Assange, creator of Wikileaks, was a "bad" guy and not likable. Good to know, Brave Sir John, thanks again for that nearly subliminal "insight" that is devoid of any context. He then proceeded to say it is hard to "wrap your head around perfect privacy vs perfect security."  Great straw man from Brave Sir John, as that is an entirely false argument. "Perfect security" is an impossibility, while "perfect privacy" is not.

Brave Sir John then followed this up by showing videos of people interviewed in Times Square who had no idea who Snowden was or what information he released. Oliver assured the viewer that these interviews were COMPLETELY representative!! Trust him!! Brave Sir John would never lie!! This is the oldest trick in the book in order to bolster your preconceived opinion…go and watch, if you dare, Bill O'Reilly's segment, "Water's World",  if you don't believe me. Or any "man on the street" segment on any two-bit show anywhere. This nonsense was followed by Oliver undermining the vital importance of the NSA survelience issue by reducing it to a bit on "dick pics". That is some solid, top notch, "insightful" comedy from America's favorite rat-faced, establishment lap-dog. Oliver succeeded in doing what Snowden himself said in the film Citizenfour the media would do to him to obfuscate the NSA spying issue, they would make the story about him and not about the NSA spying. Brave Sir John played that game plan perfectly. 

In response to the Oliver piece, all the cable channels, officialdom's own public relations department, did stories on the interview and sure enough, they all took shots at Snowden and diminished his truly brave work and service. On Chris Matthews reliably revolting show, he had a group of guests on, each more repugnant than the next, who all took the same courageous stance that John Oliver took, that Edward Snowden was a "leaker", and not a "whistleblower". Washington Post Establishment shill extraordinaire, the achingly ambitious yet utterly vacuous Jonathon Capehart, ended the Chris Mathews show segment by declaring Edward Snowden was "smug". Thanks for the thoughtful analysis Jonathon, have you ever heard of the phrase, "pot calling the kettle black?"

The most disturbing part of the entire Snowden affair happened a few days later, when I overheard some very liberal friends talking about Oliver's interview with Snowden. These true- blue liberals lapped up everything John Oliver had fed them. One of them kept mis-stating that Snowden "was the 'wiki-leaks' guy", showing that Oliver's disinformation and obfuscation campaign was a huge success with his target audience. Of course my liberal friends, like the rest of Brave Sir John's audience, think they are astoundingly well informed, but are, in reality, really dangerously mis-informed.

Oliver has proven, with his constant regurgitation of establishment narratives, on Putin, Snowden and Correa in particular, that he is a propaganda tool for the powers that be. If you watch his show closely enough, you will notice that John Oliver never, ever questions the things the Establishment holds dear... U.S. foreign policy, the Intelligence community, Israel, capitalism, The War on Terror, or the establishment itself. Brave Sir John is, at heart, a corporatist and Imperialist, which should come as no surprise since he is currently an employee of Time-Warner. 

It is important to understand that John Oliver is the symptom, not the disease, which is ironic because Brave Sir John only feels comfortable pointing out very specific symptoms on his show, and never the bigger disease. This is what the intelligence community does, they co-opt popular culture to their benefit in order to shape opinion. They manipulate, dominate, and misinform people through pop culture, media and film. It isn't just Brave Sir John, it is Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert and even...gasp…Jon Stewart!! I know people will have a tough time swallowing the charge against Jon Stewart, but go take a look at his interview with Kathryn Bigelow, director of Zero Dark Thirty, a well known propaganda piece, the day after the Senate Torture report came out showing that her film was filled with convenient lies for the intelligence community. Stewart and Bill Maher both had the same reaction to Bigelow when they interviewed her in the same week, they both ignored the torture and propaganda issue and instead let Bigelow plug her work involving African elephants. Stewart started his interview by bringing up the torture topic and asking her thoughts, and Bigelow simply replied, "it's been a tough week"...End of discussion, Stewart dropped the subject…NOW let's talk elephants!! It was truly bizarre on Stewarts part, but at least he asked her thoughts, Bill Maher ignored the topic altogether when Bigelow was on his show later in the week.

These "clowns", Oliver, Stewart, Colbert and Maher shape and form public opinion and thought, particularly on the political left. These guys and their imitators are insidious because they use the ruse of being rebellious comedians who scrutinize authority to actually cover their vehement defense and cultural enforcement of all things establishment. It is all the more insipid because these men are held up, and hold themselves up, as a vital check and balance to establishment authority. These clowns only play the role of court jester, but never have the courage to actually speak the truth to the ruling powers or challenge their authority. They are less like the court jesters of old and more like the court eunuchs. They are more interested in staying relevant and in good graces with the establishment than in growing a pair of balls and telling the truth.

Do I think that CIA operatives are sitting in the writers room at HBO or Comedy Central…no…well..probably not. That is not necessarily how it works. But I would say that John Oliver, Bill Maher and Stephen Colbert wouldn't have their jobs on television if they weren't vociferous establishmentarians. Would some corporate entity with a television channel have given a weekly or daily show to George Carlin or Bill Hicks when they were alive or if they were alive today? Not in a million years, because those guys directly challenged the establishment, their foundation of power and their false narratives. They didn't dance and giggle around specific symptoms like John Oliver, they punched hard and often by diagnosing the whole god-damned disease. And where are the Carlin's and Hick's of this new generation of comedians? They might be out there, but they won't be getting work on corporate television anytime soon. Guys like Carlin and Hicks are anathema to the corporatist, imperial system and the powers that be who run it. Dangerous comedians will be frozen out of the process entirely. That's how the game works.

In a normal world, comedy is found in being contrarian. But not with the comedy or propaganda we get from Brave Sir John and his ilk. Brave Sir John just tells people what they want to hear…that they are really, really smart!! That what they read in the New York Times and Washington Post is true!! Oh…and they are really smart BECAUSE they read the NY Times and Washington Post and can regurgitate the establishment party line on all matters big and small!! In reality, John Oliver and his ilk are cowards. They won't take on true power, which makes John Oliver in particular…and I'll use a British term here he will definitely be able to understand…a fecking twat.

"Last Week Tonight" begins its third season tonight, Sunday, February 14. I will be tuning in to watch if only to observe and note the propaganda that Brave Sir John will be selling. I will try and keep a running tally as season three progresses. If you watch the show, and if you like the show, watch it with a sharply critical eye. Watch how Brave Sir John lulls you into a false sense of liberal camaraderie and superiority, and then pay attention when he sells you the Establishment line. 

I know some of you may think I'm crazy, or an idiot, or both, well rest assured, you are in good and crowded company. But understand, I am not asking that you agree with me in thinking that John Oliver is a propaganda tool for the establishment, I am simply asking you to BE CONSCIOUS AND AWARE when you watch his show. There is more going with on with "Last Week Tonight" than meets the eye. Wake up and see through the bullshit you're being fed, whether it's the mainstream media or an "alternative" comedian who is feeding it to you.

I leave you know with a relevant quote from the wonderful writer and intellectual Chris Hedges.

"Those few who acknowledge the death of our democracy, the needless suffering inflicted on the poor and the working class in the name of austerity, and the crimes of empire—in short those who name our present and past reality—are whitewashed out of the public sphere. If you pay homage to the fiction of the democratic state and the supposed “virtues” of the nation, including its right to wage endless imperial war, you get huge fees, tenure, a television perch, book, film or recording contracts, grants and prizes, investors for your theater project or praise as an pundit, artist or public intellectual. The pseudo-politicians, pseudo-intellectuals and pseudo-artists know what to say and what not to say. They offer the veneer of criticism—comedians such as Stephen Colbert do this—without naming the cause of our malaise. And they are used by the elites as attack dogs to discredit and destroy genuine dissent. This is not, as James Madison warned, the prologue to a farce or a tragedy; we are living both farce and tragedy." - Chris Hedges, The Great Forgetting 1/10/2016
EPISODE 2 : THE JOHN OLVIER TWIST : THE DRUMPF AFFAIR AND LITTLE BILL MAHER'S POWER FETISH
EPISODE 3 : THE JOHN OLIVER TWIST : WAXING BRAZILIAN AND WANING CREDIBILITY
EPISODE 4 : THE JOHN OLIVER TWIST : OUT-TRUMPING TRUMP ON THE GREAT WALL OF TRUMP
EPISODE 5 : THE JOHN OLIVER TWIST : THINGS SAID AND UNSAID
©2016