Dear Jon Stewart,

Thank you…you and the little army of writers and television gypsies that came together for good, at a time when your country, and I, needed you.  When we were lost, trying to rescue truth from the clutches of the radical political conservatives, and the evangelical Christian extremists, and the political organizations they controlled, you went to the front of the column and screamed, “Seriously?”

Journalism was little help in those dark times.  The major outlets were swampedjon_stewart3 by calls that blamed the “liberal media” for always taking sides against good honest conservatives, so they fell back to reporting controversial stories as little more than “he said/she said” exchanges and refused to identify blatant falsity as such.  They were outmaneuvered by the opposition; they were (and are) cowards, willing victims to what David Shaw of the Los Angeles Times beautifully referred to as “the four horsemen of the journalistic apocalypse: superficiality, sensationalism, preoccupation with celebrity, and obsession with the bottom line.”  So it was left to comedy, satire, to ride to our rescue.

The objection to Puritans is not that they try to make us think as they do, but that they try to make us do as they think. – H. L. Mencken

Almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so. – Robert A. Heinlein

It didn’t help that the barbarians at the gate, intent on replacing the tolerant democratic civil society we were aspiring to with a theocracy of their own religious beliefs, decided to unlevel the playing field and refuse to acknowledge any truths that didn’t support their worldview.  The “reality-based community” stood dumbfounded, scrambling for the proper reply to “No, the sky is not blue, and you can’t prove that it is.”  But you found a way.

You like to say that you were just a comedian; true enough, but on The Daily Show you were more than just jokes.  You aimed a most potent weapon—sunshine; the light of day; their own words; common sense—at people who were full of shit and assured us all that the smell was coming from somewhere else.  They deserved what they got from you, and we got to laugh.  And in the process—in pointing out that the emperor indeed did not have on any clothes, that what politicians said quite often was at odds with demonstrable truth, that the 24-hour news channels weren’t worth the paper they were printed on—you reassured a lot of us that there was still hope.  For that, thank you.

Fact is, you did a great job of it just this week and I grabbed the link.  So for old time’s sake, just once more, let me suggest—click the pic, ya maroons.


Dear Ted Cruz,

I was going to write you a short note to congratulate you (I guess) for becoming the first officially-announced candidate for president…in a primary season whose first election is still more than a year away, for a general election even more distant than that.  But we both know that I wouldn’t have been sincere, so I didn’t do it.  I know how you hate the phoniness that’s unfortunately so typical of politics, and God knows I don’t want to add to it.

I think I understand why you announced when you did—to try to get commitments from big money donors before they sign up with Jeb, and to capitalize on any remaining Tea Party fervor that hasn’t just naturally bubbled off since November.  I take it you feel that was worth the chance, even if it flies in the face of the fact that in recent times the first person to announce does not end up winning.  And I guess I understand why you announced where you did—forsaking stages in both the nation’s capital as well as your state’s capital, and even your hometown here in Houston, you chose a setting deep in the heart of the Christian extremist movement to say loud and clear, I am here to be the president of Born Again America and the rest of you better watch your step.

What the hell, it’s your campaign…do it however you want.  I will note that while you have the advantage of at least being an alternative to another Clinton, or yet another Bush—a not insubstantial advantage, to my mind—you are also following in the footsteps of Barack Obama by aiming for the top after having barely dipped your toe in an elective office.  Your hubris is showing, buddy, and I imagine they had something to say about that back at Faith West Academy and Second Baptist.

Can you win?  There is so much time before anyone casts the first vote that actually means something, and so many unknowns that could go one way or another during that time—and that’s both the known unknowns as well as the unknown ones—it’s impossible to say.  So sure, I guess you could win…and I could finally break 80 on the golf course.  I can get you the names of some folks who can help quantify that possibility for you, if you’re interested.

So as you set off on this adventure, no doubt intensely secure in your belief in yourself, I’d suggest looking out for this one way that you might be able to expand your appeal: try to be less of an asshole.  It couldn’t hurt.

“American Taliban”

From time to time I find something I think is worth recommending that other people check out; I found such a thing last week.

This is about politics; this is about the people I’ve accused of hijacking the Republican Party and turning it into a secular curtain that they hide behind in their fight to impose their religious beliefs on all Americans through civil law, despite what the First Amendment says about that in this country (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”); this is about us all getting a clear look at what’s going on back there behind that curtain.

Political parties are not mentioned in the United States Constitution; they don’t exist as a part of government to promote the common good, they exist as private organizations to promote themselves and those who support them.  In the last generation, the Republican Party of Lincoln and Reagan has been take over by people who played the political game according to the rules, who participated and organized and worked their asses off, until they were in a position to control the outcomes of party primaries.  Today, anyone who wants to be the Republican candidate for anything has to please a small group of religious extremists, even when doing so means abandoning their own political heritage.

Some Republican candidates these days are true believers; others sell a bit of their soul in hopes of winning an election so they can do some good, and maybe someday move beyond the control of the extremists.  But make no mistake, the radicals are in charge of the GOP.  And they are now passing “voter ID” laws in most of the country to prevent voting fraud, laws that, arguably, have the real world effect of limiting voter participation by people in groups that have historically been reliable voters for Democratic Party candidates.  Pretty smart, and sneaky: no one can be in favor of voter fraud…but what they don’t like you to realize is that the incidence of actual voter fraud is on the order of 4/100,000ths of one-percent, or just 86 cases out of 196,000,000 votes cast over a five-year period of the early 2000s.  Thirty-three states have passed voter ID laws; in 32 of those states, the laws were proposed by Republican lawmakers and passed by Republican-controlled legislatures and signed by Republican governors.  If there’s no significant voter fraud to stop, then what are they after?

The people who control today’s Republican Party have been as successful as they have because (1) some Americans agree with their goals, (2) most Americans aren’t paying attention, and (3) the news media is too occupied with what David Shaw in the Los Angeles Times called “the four horsemen of the journalistic apocalypse: superficiality, sensationalism, preoccupation with celebrity, and obsession with the bottom line.”  So, we have to rely on fictional journalists to do the heavy lifting:

“American Taliban.”  Yep; that’s perfect.  Spread the word.  And thanks to for the tip.

Dear Anita Perry,

I am surprised, I must say.  I’d have thought that after more than 30 years as the wife of a professional politician you wouldn’t be so sensitive to a little push-back.  But they are less deferential out in the rest of the country than we are back here at home in Texas, huh?  Getting all teary and everything because you think Governor Haircut has been “brutalized” due to his Christian faith?  Is that really going to be your best approach?

Anita PerryThe thing is, most of the rest of the country takes pluralism and religious tolerance seriously. They’re not all evangelical Christians like so very many here at home, and they don’t wear their faith on their sleeves, either.  Just because you are comfortable talking about your faith doesn’t mean everyone else is interested in hearing about it, especially people who make their voting decisions without little or no consideration of a candidate’s religion, and there are a lot of those people in America.

Frankly, most of America probably wouldn’t even know what church you folks belong to if you hadn’t made a big deal about it.  You’re the ones who brought your religion into this, so you can’t be a crybaby when others make it an issue.

After all, you’re part of the plurality here—white, Christian America—so you can’t whine when someone, or anyone, has the temerity to be anything but subservient or obsequious.  If on the one hand you proudly tell us that God’s call to your husband to run for president of the United States was like encountering a burning bush, then you cannot on the other hand complain when people question his relationships with religious figures like Robert Jeffress.

You said that these brutal attacks are coming from the news media as well as some of your fellow Republicans.  I’d like to suggest two things.  The first is to remind you (again) that reporters covering the campaign are supposed to investigate the claims made by candidates; they are not there merely to transcribe and distribute the candidates’ profound words.  They are supposed to poke and prod and ask questions and look for inconsistencies and errors, and publish their findings.  That’s reporting; that’s their job.  And the second thing is, if you’re unhappy about being attacked by Republicans you thought were your friends, well, welcome to a contested Republican primary.

One other thing, if I might.  I see you being quoted as saying this opposition comes “because of his faith.  He is the only true conservative.”  Apologies if I’m misunderstanding here, but are you saying that conservatism is a religious faith?  Or, that people who are not evangelical Christians are incapable of being “true conservatives”?  If so, that’s going to come as a big surprise to the members of the less-demonstrative Christian denominations, the Roman Catholics, the Jews, the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhists,  the Shintos, the Mormons, the Quakers, the Unitarian-Universalists,  the Scientologists, the Rastafarians and, of course, the atheists, agnostics and secular humanists who are all part of the Weekly Standard/Fox News Channel/Rush Limbaugh axis of moral superiority.

This morning on ABC News the governor stood by what you said yesterday in Tigerville, South Carolina (Tigerville?  Really?), and I think that’s exactly what he should have done; a man should stand up for his wife.  But if he really agrees with your sentiment, and his skin isn’t as thick as he’s let on, you two are in for quite an unpleasant ride.

Now, if you could please explain to me how it is that you blame President Obama for your son losing his job, as you claimed this morning, even though your son voluntarily resigned.  This should be good.