Stephen Colbert & Jon Stewart sell millennials military industry propaganda

On the November 13, 2013 episode of The Colbert Report, there was a segment about the Colorado man on a quixotic crusade to institute a “drone bounty” in his town of Deer Trail, CO. Philip Steele, the “brains” behind the proposed ordinance, is an easy target for ridicule. He shows up to a town council meeting in a cowboy hat and duster, demanding that Ennio Morricone play as he entered. As the segment’s straight-person, Colbert has on MIT professor Missy Cummings. While Steele prints up drone-hunting permits from his desktop printer and makes racist comments about Obama’s ancestry, Cummings paints a rosy picture in which domestic UAVs do everything but tuck our kids in at night. To demonstrate Steele’s unfounded paranoia, the show quotes him saying:

There are many reasons to conduct surveillance. Let’s take smokers, how many people have smoke breaks, okay, fly a drone. ‘Oh, did you check nonsmoker on your health insurance form? Oh I’m sorry, we’re going to have to penalize you now.’”

The audience laughs at this, but isn’t it obvious that this is exactly the sort of thing that domestic drones will be used for in the future? Steele sounds like an eccentric reactionary for most of the interview, so consequently the young, liberal audience is laughing even as he says something plausible, if not likely. This is the problem with the tepid liberalism at the core of The Daily Show and Colbert, and how both shows  filter everything into the insipid “Democrat vs. Republican” partisan framework. By choosing a right-wing drone opponent, Colbert primes its audience to laugh at what he’s saying, even when it’s realistic; and trust his opposite, even when they’re a shill for the military industry. Continue reading

It’s time for regime change in Canada

This was inspired by a satirical piece in the Washington Post titled “Canadian regime roiled by provincial scandal, sparks fears of instability.” The series talks about Canada as if it was “China or Afghanistan,” highlighting the different way that the media covers countries that fall outside the Washington consensus. If only the idea of invading Iraq or overthrowing governments in Latin America was as absurd as the idea of regime change in Canada.

The increasingly erratic behavior of regional chieftain Rob Ford has forced the international community to ask if Canada is descending into anarchy. Ford’s prolific drug use and propensity for violent threats is reminiscent of the warlords of Liberia’s Civil War, but he’s merely the latest example of Canada flouting international norms. The regime of Stephen Harper has overseen a decade of unprecedented Canadian military buildup. Harper has demonstrated increasingly authoritarian tendencies upon assuming power, repeatedly shutting down Parliament on a whim. A prominent Canadian commentator has warned the world of Harper’s “billy-club governance, ironclad controls, scorning of accountability, censorship, smearing of opponents, [and] power unto one.” As Harper and his cadre have dispensed with the façade of Canadian democracy, his government has strengthened ties with Beijing and declared its commitment to the exploitation of Africa. Canada has also militarized its presence in the Arctic, threatening free trade, energy resources and global stability. The international community must set a clear red line that Canada cannot violate with impunity. The world has stood idly by in the past when authoritarian leaders set their sights on territorial gains abroad–never again. Continue reading