Tag: political satire

Sudden disappearance of ducks worries readers of international relations blog

The Canard
“All the fake news that’s fit to print”


Readers of the popular blog “Duck of Minerva” are expressing a mix of consternation and concern with the disappearance of many of the ducks on the site. Charli Carpenter, Stephanie Carvin and Dan Nexon, normally reliable for a couple of quacks a week on important issues of foreign affairs, have not been heard from in weeks, sometimes months, and those who peruse the site regularly are not letting their frustration roll like water off a duck’s back. “LFC” posted: “I count on this site to break down important events. Where is everyone?”

Others are more concerned. Nawal Mustafa worries that the ducks might be….dead ducks. Scientists are worried that the sudden decline in the blogger population might be related to the mysterious die-off of hundreds of birds in Arkansas at the beginning of the year, for which there is as of yet no known cause. Unlike that incident, though, no carcasses have been found.

Nevertheless experts take comfort that co-founder Patrick T. Jackson is alive and kicking, cantankerous as ever. Jackson is more goose than duck though, with a fierce bite, and it might be that whatever malady has struck is particular to ducks.

The site has hired a lot of new talent lately, getting in ducks in a row. New bloggers like Joshua Busby have taken to their new roles like ducks to water, offering trenchant analyses of pressing global issues like conflict and famine in the Horn of Africa and global warming. Megan MacKenzie waddles through wonderful posts about gender. Catherine Weaver pecks at the innards of international financial institutions. It might be that the old ducks are just lame ducks, resting on their laurels while the little chicks handle the site, relaxing and spending time with their families. Maybe even working.

Others, however, have not had the same success, with readers, especially those who admired Steve Jobs, directing particular ire towards the smart-aleck posts of Brian Rathbun. Rathbun has frequently had to duck and cover. Contacted by the paper, Rathbun wimpered, “The internet makes you a sitting duck. Anyone can just lambaste your posts, saying ‘you aren’t funny. FAIL.’ It is very hurtful.”


Creeping Reasonableness

I’ve been wondering when the Locke/Demosthenes effect would manifest itself through the faux political rivalry of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Could this be their moment?

Stewart on the need to return to a deliberative ethic in American democracy – best if viewed starting @ 2:10 below:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Rally to Restore Sanity
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Colbert’s response @ 3:54 below:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
March to Keep Fear Alive
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election Fox News

David Carr writes:

In a sense, the pair from Comedy Central are a postmodern response to a modern media universe.

His round-up of insights on the politicization of satire and satirization of the political include the following:

Kurt Andersen, the novelist and host of public radio’s “Studio 360,” called Mr. Stewart’s rally for civility “a milestone in this arc of increasing entanglement between show business and politics. The current media condition is not just more power. It’s nuclear power, and we don’t really know where we are going with it,” he said.

“Stewart and Colbert are awkwardly transitioning from media figures to political figures with an understanding that there may not be that much difference anymore,” said Michael Hirschorn, a writer and a producer of a number of reality shows.

My modest prediction regarding this twin set of rallies: Stewart’s will draw a significant number of moderates, for precisely the reasons he hopes, but Colbert’s will also draw Americans on both the far left and far right. If so, that will be an interesting pot in which deliberative democracy can, momentarily, stew – and I wonder what exactly they’re planning to stir it with come the day.

Hope to see you there on October 30th at 8:00 a.m.!


Not At All Shiny

On the Report tonight, Stephen Colbert gave a long, funny, monologue about how he is more hip-hop-pop-cultural-savvy than Michael Steele.

Then, in the following segment on Node 3 of the International Space Station, he (and his screenwriters) seemingly demonstrated a surprising lack of cultural literacy. How else to explain their disbelief at the fact that “Serenity” beat out “Colbert” as one of the most-recommended names for Node 3? Watch the clip and tell me if I’m misinterpreting this.

Oh, and you can go here to vote.


The Wrong Palin

I’m sorry, but I simply couldn’t help but post this.*

*My willingness to make fun of Sarah Palin should in no way be construed as an endorsement of some members of my party’s more appalling rhetoric toward her and her daughter, which I frankly have found an embarrassment over the past eleven days. There are many good reasons to not want her at the country’s helm; her commitment to her family and her daughter’s exercise of her choice as a woman (a responsible one, you might even say) are certainly not among them.


Truthy or Dare

If you’ve not done so, open up your Political Science & Politics and read James Fowler‘s article “The Colbert Bump in Campaign Donations: More Truthful than Truthy.” In this brilliant piece, Fowler empirically tests whether support exists for Stephen Colbert‘s claim that Congresspersons who appear on his late-night comedy show receive a “bump” in their approval ratings.

Now I need to go back through my video archive to make sure I’m correct in thinking the correct indicator of approval ratings, according to Colbert, is opinion polls (Fowler uses donations to Congressional campaigns as a proxy). That notwithstanding, I think this article is brilliant for three reasons.

1) It’s brilliantly, refreshingly funny – bravo to PS&Politics for publishing not only a scholarly article about political satire, but one written in a satirical style. (Fowler peppers his descriptions of selection effects and Mann Whitney U nonparametric tests with such gems as: “I’m sure Stephen will be pleased there is a ‘man’ in his statistical test – though, what kind of a man calls himself Whitney?”

2) It’s an article born to make students excited about political science: a simple empirical test of a popular empirical claim, with all the boring theory-relevance evacuated. Of course, because it does absolutely nothing to build theory, many journals might not have published it. But I’m delighted it was published, because it advances our understanding of how popular culture impacts political outcomes. More political scientists should focus on using our methodological tools to test popular assumptions. Who says polisci has to be boring?

3) Also, the article introduces political scientists who don’t watch the Colbert Report (I was surprised to learn that the average viewership is only about 1.3 million) to a popular phenomenon that nonetheless exerts “a disproportionate real-world influence” due to its elite demographic; while introducing Colbert fans to a dispassionate analysis (minus hype) of the show’s impact on real-world politics.

Fowler’s methodology is creative and intriguing. Instead of simply tracing the actual before-and-after campaign success of Colbert’s interviewees, he controls for selection effects by pair-matching Colbert Report guests with similar political candidates who did not go on the show. His none-too-counterintuitive finding is that the Colbert “bump” in fact exists, but only for Democrats.

Read the whole thing here.


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