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Late Night Political Humor

“According to a new poll, nearly six out of 10 Republicans want Mitt Romney to run for president. So do 10 out of 10 Democrats.” – Conan O’Brien

“Senator Rand Paul reflected on Mitt Romney’s potential 2016 campaign and said, ‘It’s sort of what Einstein said, that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.’ When someone told him Einstein didn’t actually say that, he said, ‘In the words of Gandhi, My bad.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“Just days after Mitt Romney suggested he might run for president, there’s been a backlash. The backlash is led by Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, and just to hedge his bets on every issue, Mitt Romney.” – Conan O’Brien

“The RNC released its first presidential debate schedule, which includes at least nine debates in different states across the country. As opposed to the Democratic debates, which will just be Hillary staring at her opponents until they burst into flames.” – Jimmy Fallon

“The other big story is tomorrow’s State of the Union address. During President Obama’s speech, one cabinet member will be asked to stay behind to run the government in case there is a crisis at the Capitol. At least that’s what they’re telling Biden.” – Jimmy Fallon

“This year’s Oscar nomination pool is the least diverse collection of nominees since 1998. There are so many white nominees that Fox News agreed to host a debate.” – Seth Meyers

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Amendments

The new Republican-controlled Senate immediately started paying back their largest campaign donors – the oil companies – by pushing for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Ironically, the beneficiaries of Keystone are mainly Canadian companies, but with our new rules that allow political contributions to remain completely anonymous, it is no surprise that there would be many large donors who are not Americans at all (or even American companies). Shouldn’t this worry us?

Passing Keystone requires the strange ritual of introducing amendments, many of which have nothing to do with the pipeline at all. For example, an amendment that would prohibit EPA enforcement officials from carrying guns (so much for being pro-gun!). Or an amendment to block Obama’s historic agreement with China to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At least those are somewhat energy related. But what about the amendment that blocks the designation of any more national monuments?

Then, things turned even more ironic. The Senate voted on an amendment on whether climate change “is real and not a hoax.” This was mainly for show, as even most Republicans are willing to admit that the climate is changing. Indeed, only one (Roger Wicker, who apparently doesn’t believe in science; can you guess his party affiliation?) voted no.

Then Brian Schatz (again, can you guess his party affiliation?) introduced an amendment that doubled down on the last one, adding that human activity was a significant contributor to the previously admitted climate change. This time, the vote changed dramatically, and the Senate split right down the middle with 49 GOP senators voting against the new amendment. Wired magazine published a list showing the vote of every Senator. If one of your senators voted no, that means they don’t believe that humans have anything to do with global warming. Feel free to give them some feedback.

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Late Night Political Humor

“New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will begin fundraising for a potential 2016 presidential campaign by the end of January. No word on what his platform will be, but if I know Christie it’ll be really strong, maybe double reinforced steel.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Mitt Romney will reportedly address the Republican National Committee on Friday to talk about a possible third presidential run. It’s never a good sign when you have to start your speech with ‘Hear me out’.” – Seth Meyers

“Mitt Romney is running for president again. That will be attempt No. 3. Well, everybody needs a hobby. He’s almost certainly running, and I’m almost certainly retiring, so I don’t care.” – David Letterman

“It’s rumored that Chris Christie and Mitt Romney are planning to meet to overcome any lingering awkwardness from the 2012 election. Incidentally, ‘Lingering Awkwardness’ was actually Mitt Romney’s Secret Service code name.” – Jimmy Fallon

“John Boehner is a member of a country club in Ohio. It turns out that the bartender was plotting to poison Boehner. Now wait a minute. Isn’t that the movie with Seth Rogen and James Franco?” – David Letterman

“A congressman sent a tweet that compared president Obama to Adolf Hitler. He has now apologized. It’s not helping that he apologized to Hitler.” – Conan O’Brien

“President Obama is focused now on cyber security. He’s pushing for new laws to protect companies from hackers. And who better to do that than the people who brought us the Obamacare website? Not only couldn’t hackers get in, no one could penetrate it.” – Jimmy Kimmel­

“The IRS is warning that there could be long delays getting your tax refund this year because of budget cuts. They’re expecting so many delays that they’re renaming themselves the DMV.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“The good news regarding the IRS budget cuts is that they also won’t be auditing as many people. So if you’ve been thinking of claiming your pets as dependents this might be the year to do it.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“For the first time since 2007, the FDA Has approved a new device to treat obesity. The amazing breakthrough is called a vegetable.” – Conan O’Brien

“Yesterday, during his domestic abuse trial, NASCAR driver Kurt Busch said he believes his ex-girlfriend is a CIA-trained assassin. I guess those are just the kinds of thoughts you have when you drive in circles for four hours.” – Seth Meyers

“Today in Sri Lanka, Pope Francis visited a Buddhist temple. When asked why, the Pope said, ‘Just keeping my options open. It’s a dicey job market. You never know.'” – Conan O’Brien

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It’s Alive!

Zack Weinersmith

Zack Weinersmith
© Zack Weinersmith

Ever get the feeling that the echo chamber has taken on a life of its own, and doesn’t reflect the opinions of any real people? Back in 1964, Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message”. It is even more true today.

McLuhan believed that a medium itself shapes and controls “the scale and form of human association and action”. Sound familiar?

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Late Night Political Humor

“A new Republican Congress is taking over. Sen. Ted Cruz has been appointed to overseeing NASA in Congress. He says he wants NASA to focus on finding aliens so he can deport them.” – Conan O’Brien

“Mitt Romney is reportedly putting his 2012 election team back together. And somehow, miraculously, none of them were busy with other stuff.” – Seth Meyers

“Days after Mitt Romney announced he is considering a 2016 presidential campaign, his former running mate Paul Ryan announced that he will not run. Ryan won’t say who he’ll support. He just wants the best man for the Jeb … Job, I mean job.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Paul Ryan announced that after a lot of thought, and talking it over with family and friends, that he is not going to run for president in 2016. I’m telling you, this announcement sent shock waves through no one.” – David Letterman

“Republican Mike Huckabee criticized the Obamas for letting their daughters listen to Beyoncé, due to her explicit lyrics. So now the Obama girls are faced with the tough choice every teen must eventually make — listen to Beyoncé or Mike Huckabee.” – Conan O’Brien

“A congressman from Texas sent out a tweet comparing President Obama to Hitler. That is ridiculous because at this point in his career Hitler had a much higher approval rating.” – Conan O’Brien

“Fidel Castro, who hasn’t been publicly seen for more than a year, wrote a personal letter referencing current events to prove he is still alive. And nothing says ‘I’m alive in 2015′ like writing a letter.” – Seth Meyers

“Fifteen states across the country have gas prices that have dipped below $2. That means it’s now cheaper to buy a gallon of liquefied dinosaurs than one cup of coffee at Starbucks.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Congratulations to Ohio State, your new college football champions. Coach Urban Meyer may be the greatest football coach of all time. Don’t confuse him with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. That’s urban quagmire.” – David Letterman

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The Last Laugh

The Charlie Hebdo killing was a tragedy, but it was also full of irony and was a stunning source of satire. In honor of that, I give Tom Tomorrow the last word. Over and Out:

Tom Tomorrow
© Tom Tomorrow

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Late Night Political Humor

“Mitt Romney said he is considering a third presidential bid. Romney said he got the idea from watching his dog repeatedly run into an electric fence.” – Seth Meyers

“Mitt Romney says he is considering a third campaign for the presidency. He made the announcement during a private meeting with donors. It’s pretty shocking, you know, that Mitt Romney needs donors. I mean, what are these guys, trillionaires?” – Jimmy Fallon

“The film ‘Boyhood’ won the Golden Globe for best drama. It follows one guy’s journey over the course of 12 years — or as Mitt Romney calls that, ‘running for president’.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Donald Trump said he is thinking very seriously about a 2016 presidential campaign. You can tell he’s serious. Today I saw him shaking hands and firing babies.” – Jimmy Fallon

“A Saudi-Arabian prince has said that oil may never again rise above $100 a barrel. He said it’s gotten so bad he can’t afford to buy his wife her own car that she’s not allowed to drive.” – Conan O’Brien

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Death and Money

Ted Rall
© Ted Rall

The weekly circulation of Charlie Hebdo is normally around 60,000. But in the aftermath of the death of 17 people, sales have topped 5 million copies.

I’m not really sure what to say about that, but you gotta admit it is ironic.

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Happy MLK Jr. Day!

Joel Pett
© Joel Pett

Today is the day to remember that one person can make a difference. Even one person who was persecuted, spied on, and eventually assassinated. One person who was not perfect, but who fought for a cause.

We live in a world that is not just 24/7 information, but information that is supplied with a commercial agenda – to make money. The result is news that appeals to our base emotions. Full of violence and death. We are genetically programmed to pay attention to things that can harm us, and cable news is only too happy to feed that need.

In reality, the world is a pretty wonderful place, full of fascinating people and magnificent places. Stop looking at the world through someone else’s lens (especially a corporate lens). Get out there. Travel. Go to places that are out of your comfort zone, that are so different from your normal life that you will end each vacation a changed person. Some of those places may be just a few blocks from your home, but all of them will require effort to fully see.

Find good causes and fight for them. There are lots of them out there. Find one you can care about.

Live.

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Late Night Political Humor

“President Obama posted a video on Facebook yesterday announcing his plan to make the first two years of community college free. Unfortunately he was interrupted when Biden got confused and threw a bucket of ice water on his head.” – Jimmy Fallon

“President Obama has issued three veto threats in just two days. Meanwhile, Chris Christie has threatened four Vitos, two Charlies, and a Doug.” – Seth Meyers

“Hillary Clinton is the leading presidential contender for the Democrats. Former Clinton aide John Podesta said Hillary will highlight her differences with President Obama if she runs. The biggest difference: Hillary is still interested in being president.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Potential presidential candidate Jeb Bush will release a decade’s worth of tax returns to avoid comparisons to Mitt Romney. Yeah, they’re nothing alike. They’re just both former governors from wealthy families whose parents gave them super-weird names.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Former Arkansas governor and potential 2016 candidate Mike Huckabee is releasing his 12th book later this month called, ‘God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy.’ The craziest part: that’s just his favorite aisle at Walmart.” – Jimmy Fallon

“California’s 74-year-old Senator Barbara Boxer announced she will not run for re-election in 2016. When I saw the headline ’74-Year-Old Boxer’, I assumed they were making another ‘Rocky’ movie.” – Conan O’Brien

“Today, Angelina Jolie met with Pope Francis at the Vatican. Long story short: She adopted him.” – Conan O’Brien

“Today is the birthday of Elvis Presley and dictator Kim Jong Un. Elvis would’ve been 80 today. Kim Jong Un is either 32 or 33. They actually aren’t sure. North Korean scholars agree that when he entered the world a silver eagle ascended and promised 1,000 years of prosperity for his people. That should kick in any day now.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Happy birthday to evil North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. He gathered family and friends together and celebrated by executing a few close friends.” – David Letterman

“Last year Kim Jong Un had Dennis Rodman on hand to sing to him. This year he had a low-key celebration. He spent the day at home reading Sony’s emails. ” – Jimmy Kimmel

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Wage Stag Nation

Another ironic situation is shaping up.

In the Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky points out that Republicans have started talking about stagnant wages as a way to attack Obama.

For example, John Boehner, upon being reelected (barely) as Speaker of the House, spoke on the House floor:

In recent months our economy has showed signs of improvement. After difficult years it may be a temptation to accept what I would call the new normal. But … far too many Americans remain out of work and too many are working harder only to lose ground to stagnant wages and rising costs. We can do better. We can build an economy that furthers better-paying jobs, more growth and more opportunity for the middle class. This is our vital task.

And it is true that the fact that wages have not increased significantly is the worst part of not just the current economic recovery, but of the last 30 years or more.

Since 1979, worker productivity in the US has increased by 80%. And (as a result) the income of the top 1% has increased a stunning 240%. Yet the wages of an average American has gone up less than 8%, adjusted for inflation. That’s bad news, because a thriving middle class is a large part of what drives our economy, and in the US the middle class is going nowhere, despite working harder and better.

Hypocritically, most of this was by design – it was the heart of “Trickle Down Economics”. The idea that if we gave huge tax breaks to the wealthy, jobs and money would trickle down to the middle class. So we handed out tax breaks to the wealthy like they were candy. How did that work out?

It is going to be interesting to see how the GOP pins this problem on Obama.

Especially after the announcement that Obama is going to use the State of the Union speech to propose closing huge tax loopholes for the wealthiest while offering new tax breaks for the middle class (and simultaneously reducing the deficit).

Will Republicans flip-flop and turn against the middle class again? Will they have to in order to remain the Party of No, opposing everything Obama proposes (even things they came up with in the first place, like Romneycare?) Can a leopard change its spots?

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Seizing the Moment!

Finally! Attorney General Eric Holder today barred police from using Federal civil asset forfeiture laws without warrants or criminal charges. The laws were originally passed as part of the (failed) war on drugs (to confiscate money made in the drug trade, but quickly turned into a money-making operation for local police departments.

Over 55,000 seizures totaling $3 billion in cash and other property have been made. Often property was forfeited even if there was not enough evidence to charge anyone with a crime, and encouraged police to concentrate on otherwise low-priority crimes where they could profit as much as possible. Civil forfeiture was also used disproportionately against minorities, who could not afford to hire lawyers required to get their property back.

The new policy has limited exceptions for illegal firearms, ammunition, explosives, and property associated with child pornography.

I’ve posted before about these crazy laws, which turn our system of justice on its head, and are clearly unconstitutional, depriving citizens of property without any due process of law.

Civil asset forfeiture is institutionalized corruption, and I’m very happy that the Obama administration is taking steps to shut down its abuse.

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Late Night Political Humor

“President Obama met with the president of Mexico. When asked what it’s like to govern 100 million Mexican people, Obama said, ‘It can be challenging.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“Some more news out of Washington. During a recent interview, a White House adviser said Joe Biden is the reason President Obama got elected both times. Then he said, ‘He’s also the reason we got banned from Applebee’s.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“Here in New York City, it’s cold. It’s so cold the Republicans want to use the Keystone Pipeline to deliver soup.” – David Letterman

“Congrats to former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara, who celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary yesterday, and it’s actually the longest presidential marriage since John Adams. Or as Barbara calls Adams, ‘my first love’.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Some areas near Dallas experienced a 3.5-magnitude earthquake, which some blame on fracking. However, scientists say that it was more likely aftershocks from Chris Christie celebrating at the Cowboys game.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Scientists are adding an extra second to the year 2015. Yeah. Here’s the bad news. You just wasted it listening to this joke.” – Conan O’Brien

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Cartoons Against Terrorism

Tom Tomorrow
© Tom Tomorrow

The Nib has a special series of responses to the Charlie Hebdo massacre from other cartoonists. This includes a particularly powerful piece from a Muslim cartoonist. But all of them are short and well worth a read.

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Late Night Political Humor – Charlie Hebdo

“This is really hard to do but I’d like to change the tone now and briefly mention today’s terrible tragedy in France. Twelve people were killed because a satirical newspaper made jokes that some group found offensive. All of us are accustomed to bad news from around the world. But this story hits home for anybody who mocks anyone.” – Conan O’Brien

“Our hearts are with the staff of Charlie Hebdo and their families tonight. I know very few people go into comedy as an act of courage, mainly because it shouldn’t have to be that, it shouldn’t be an act of courage, it should be taken as established law. But those guys at Hebdo had it, and they were killed for their cartoons. For however frustrated or outraged back and forth conversation can become, it’s still back and forth conversation amongst those on … let’s call it team civilization. And this type of violence only clarifies that reality. Of course, of course, our goal tonight … is to not make sense of this, because there is no sense to be made of this. Our goal, as it is always, is to keep going, keep calm and carry on, or whatever version of that saying is in your dorm room.” – Jon Stewart

“Today’s tragedy in Paris reminds us very viscerally that it’s a right that some people are inexplicably forced to die for. So it’s very important tonight that I express that everybody who works at our comedy show, all of us are terribly sad for the families and people of France and anybody in the world tonight who now has to think twice before making a joke. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be.” – Conan O’Brien

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