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Comedy and satire have the uncanny ability to tell stories in a nonthreatening manner. Done correctly they can be heard palatably. Bill Maher takes America’s obsession with Malaysia Flight MH370 as a proxy for many of America’s dysfunctions.

Many will only see the humor in the piece. Subsequently the observed absurdities in the piece of what we do politically and otherwise are bound to self-reveal. That is why both Jon Stewart and Bill Maher are so effective.

Maher illustrates how America’s obsession with Malaysia is ill-placed given the reality of flight travel. He notes that Americans are uninterested in knowing much about genetically modified foods, the content of impactful legislation, the extent of polluters’ misbehavior, and many other issues. These issues have much more impact on their daily lives. Yet these issues get very little scrutiny from the media.

Granted, there are reasons for a continuous effort to find MH370. We should want to know if there is some flaw in the plane that could affect the entire fleet. However, given that these planes have been flying for years, empirically one can assume they are safe in the aggregate.

Ultimately Maher gets to the core of the American psychology. We have the need for complete closure. Is that a mental disorder, intrinsically human, or the need to be all-knowing? It is likely all of the above. The side effects are palpable as Maher clearly states.

“That’s why we have wars that last a decade or more,” Bill Maher said. “And farm subsidies for millionaires. And military bases in countries we fought in 75 years ago. And a senseless 50 year embargo on Cuba. Some of the best decisions in my life involved quitting.”

Many would view quitting as leaving loose ends. Sometimes it is simply the best decision to cut one’s losses. When we learn that as a country, just maybe we will fight the battles we can win. And with that we win the war of not following the fate of every empire that ever existed.

Originally posted to ProgressiveLiberal on Sat May 03, 2014 at 05:08 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I would have agreed with Maher (0+ / 0-)

    completely, but then I just read this:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/...

    ....mysterious cargo, high-tech weapons parts, phoney manifest? It's getting interesting.

    •  Isn't the Daily Fail (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jasan, Bob Duck, Kevskos, nipit

      Owned by Rupert Murdoch?

      Plus, look at all the informative news items they have listed under "Femail". Truly Britain's finest news source.

      •  Exactly, I have not seen anyone taking (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis

        claim for this as a terrorist act.  Pretty quiet for the last 2 months I would say.

        •  FOX News 'investigated' the Muslim pilots (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dewtx, Hoghead99

          IIRC. Nothing since then, shockingly. Someone must have sent a memo. Maybe they'll come up with a scoop linking Benghazi with this. Yep. That's it.

          "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

          by DaddyO on Tue May 06, 2014 at 07:51:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  While I don't believe it was terrorism (0+ / 0-)

          It's worth pointing out that Bin Laden didn't publicly admit responsibility for the 9/11 attacks until 2004. For a full year after the attacks he denied that Al Qaeda had anything to do with them.

          The notion that terrorists always immediately claim credit for an attack is based on the behavior of left-wing terror groups from the 1960's and 1970's. It's not necessarily the case that groups behave that way today, as it leaves them open to retaliation.

          To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

          by sneakers563 on Wed May 07, 2014 at 08:31:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Doesn't Al Queda... (0+ / 0-)

      take credit for their acts of terrorism? We've heard nothing but crickets on this one.

  •  During a Vendee Globe yacht race, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib

    in his book, Close to the Wind, Pete Goss recounts how one of the other racers had problems in that part of the world.  His body was never recovered, but fragments of his sailboat were later identified.

    That was a 35 foot sailboat.

    How can we not have recovered one fragment of the Boeing 777?

    Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

    by PatriciaVa on Sat May 03, 2014 at 06:29:40 PM PDT

    •  I'd guess the answer is a combination of the (0+ / 0-)

      size of the area they're searching and the amount of trash floating in the ocean so that finding the plane's debris among all the other stuff is difficult.

      This is far from the first plane or ship that's disappeared without a trace, even in modern times.  Look how long it took to find the Titanic, whose position was accurately known compared to this plane, which could have flown for hours in almost any direction.

    •  Yes, I found a penny in the sand at Padre Island. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DaddyO

      Therefore, there cannot be an unfound nickel anywhere on that beach and my son's claim that he absolutely could not find his car keys can only mean a conspiracy was involved.  A few ten-hour flights gazing out the windscreen of a P-3 at the Pacific Ocean might provide some insight.

  •  I'll also add, in the grand scheme of things, .... (0+ / 0-)

    ...new regressive taxes are far more important to Americans than GM foods.

    Whether it be (a) an increase in the local gas tax or (b) the possibility that Americans who have suffered through a decade of stagnant wages may now have to pay a toll to use the interstate system, either is FAR more important than GM foods or gun control.

    Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

    by PatriciaVa on Sat May 03, 2014 at 06:33:59 PM PDT

  •  Thanks. (0+ / 0-)

    "Seriously, Folks, WTH?" - ("What the Heck? "h/t Joan McCarter, Seriously, Florida. WTF?)

    by HoundDog on Sat May 03, 2014 at 06:50:08 PM PDT

  •  It appears to me that CNN is a lot more (5+ / 0-)

    interested in the flight than the average American.

    If I wasn't Bob Dylan, I'd probably think that Bob Dylan has a lot of answers myself. Bob Dylan

    by weezilgirl on Sat May 03, 2014 at 07:33:10 PM PDT

    •  It's cheap and easy. Just assemble a few people (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bryce in Seattle

      in your newsroom and have them speculate endlessly.  Far easier than sending people into, say the Ukraine or Syria, where their safety is at risk.

      And frankly, most Americans can better identify with someone on a plane than someone in a war-torn country.  So CNN gets more viewers with the cheaper and easier story.

      •  There is a man named Richard something (0+ / 0-)

        that absolutely irritates the stuffing out of me. I don't know why anyone could sit and listen to him. Very much the "expert" and blathers on and on. I watched the first  week and figured out that the Malaysian officials know nothing, tell nothing and in general are jerking the families around.

        You're correct. It is cheaper and easier. At least Anderson Cooper leaves the studio.

        If I wasn't Bob Dylan, I'd probably think that Bob Dylan has a lot of answers myself. Bob Dylan

        by weezilgirl on Sat May 03, 2014 at 09:42:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Our wars never end (0+ / 0-)

    because we have a need for complete closure?

    It's a disadvantage of printing quotes from a good funny political piece, I guess.

    That you can notice that the whole thing completely fails to make sense.

    •  It does make sense... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Garrett, Kevskos

      We need to feel like we "won" the war.  If there is no winner or loser, there is no closure, hence the reason we're still fighting these pointless battles...

      Repealing Obamacare and cutting spending is not an economic plan.

      by SuzieQ4624 on Sun May 04, 2014 at 10:13:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And that is most certainly NOT the royal 'we' (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Back In Blue

        The vast majority of Americans aren't THAT stupid. Just the Villagers.

        And we haven't had a war since 1945--just police actions and AUMFs. Completely un-constitutional, each and every one, and grand displays of cowardice on the part of each Congress who funded them yet declined to DECLARE them.

        "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

        by DaddyO on Tue May 06, 2014 at 07:54:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Where is all this obsession with MH370... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi

    of which Maher speaks, other than in the media?

    Are you talking about it all the time? Are your friends? Do you walk into your local store and get immediately hit by people talking about MH370?

    Are people at your local gym or maybe your running group bringing it up?

    Is it the big discussion around the office or the work site? Maybe I live in a bubble, but no one I know is discussing it.

    Quite frankly, the only place I hear anyone discussing it is:

    (surprise, surprise) THE MEDIA!

    And this includes Bill Maher, who likes to pretend he's not part of the media, but obviously is.

    CNN is basically the main place where this story is being beaten to death.

    No one I know really gives a fuck about it. I think, personally, it's being used as a "beard" to avoid discussion of what's happening in the Ukraine, which could easily trigger WWIII, and the fact that there is incredible disparity between the high-flying stock market and the actual economics of most Americans. As someone else stated, it's cheap and easy. You actually have to think and do real analysis if you discuss Ukraine or the economy. MH370...well, at this point, anyone's opinion is as good as anyone else's.

    FWIW, of course I'd like to know what happened to it. I'd like to know where Jimmy Hoffa's body is buried, too. But the idea that it's some sort of national obsession, other than the fact that it's being shoved down our throats by certain media outlets, including, ironically, Bill Maher is bullshit.

    The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you are throttling today. - August Spies

    by joegoldstein on Sun May 04, 2014 at 05:01:39 AM PDT

    •  You should have actually watched the clip... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kevskos, joegoldstein

      Maher is specifically calling out CNN (and people who are glued to CNN for all the "breaking news") for their idiotic obsession with this story.  

      If you were a regular viewer of the show, you'd know he hasn't mentioned it more than a few times, and even then, it was in the context of the way the media was covering the story.

      None of the other news channels (or regular Americans) seem to be morbidly obsessed with this story as CNN and it's viewers obviously are.

      But then again, this is what CNN is known for - standing around a disaster, speculating on what happened, rather than performing actual journalism.

      Repealing Obamacare and cutting spending is not an economic plan.

      by SuzieQ4624 on Sun May 04, 2014 at 10:20:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My issues *are* more with CNN... (0+ / 0-)

        than Maher, though I do think he's a bit hypocritical on this.

        In any case, I do not think that Americans, at large, are overly obsessed with MH370, at all.

        I appreciate your thoughts.

        The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you are throttling today. - August Spies

        by joegoldstein on Mon May 05, 2014 at 05:48:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  There is very little journalism anymore (0+ / 0-)

        Most of the time they make shit up to make things more interesting. But let's not blame CNN too much. They do have an audience who keep them in business. It's supply and demand.

        Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others....Groucho Marx

        by tazz on Tue May 06, 2014 at 07:38:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I assume there is a video, (0+ / 0-)

    it being Maher, but my iPad just shows a block of white space.

    Marx was an optimist.

    by psnyder on Tue May 06, 2014 at 07:33:56 PM PDT

  •  I would think Maher would know the reason the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    the fan man

    media spends so much time on this story, they they dont have to talk about important things. And the reason those other things he mentions aren't in the media much is because they are some of those important things.

    We don't have news anymore we have propaganda, entertainment and distraction.  But I guess thats what people want since they get higher ratings than actual news. I think our national fear mongering has put most pf the pop in a PTSD state and people just tune out to reality.

    Maybe thats the intended point...

    Join the DeRevolution: We are not trying to take the country, we are trying to take the country back. Get the money out of politics with public financed campaigns so 'Of the People, By the People and For the People' rings true again.

    by fToRrEeEsSt on Tue May 06, 2014 at 07:42:24 PM PDT

  •  I said it after 9-11 and the Iraq Invasion (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    METAL TREK

    Sometimes, in life as well as in geopolitics, the best choice is to do NOTHING.

    Too Zen for America. Not ADD enough. And there's no money in it, either.

    "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

    by DaddyO on Tue May 06, 2014 at 07:47:49 PM PDT

  •  I have to disagree with Maher on this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    METAL TREK, Roadbed Guy

    I think that most peoples' interest in this flight is because there were people on board a plane who have almost certainly died for reasons we don't really yet know. Unlike landslides, war and terrorist attacks, most of us have been on planes so this is something that could happen to us, so we can relate. I really don't see the connection or think that in this case public interest is largely due to rubbernecking. It was tragic AND creepy. We relate to that.

    That said, for the life of me I will never understand our obsession with the K sisters of Beverly Hills. I find them incredibly boring and can't relate at all.

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Tue May 06, 2014 at 08:01:36 PM PDT

  •  Is this really worthy of front page on Daily Kos?? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Back In Blue

    see what I did there.
    What is the obsession of Daily Kos with the obsession of CNN.
    Ultimately I think the business of judging what is worthy of our obsession is tricky. Who is really to say what is worthy of attention?
    Actually I think the airplane is sort of a terrible but fascinating story.

    Obama 2012...going to win it with our support!!!

    by mattinjersey on Tue May 06, 2014 at 08:14:46 PM PDT

  •  That's not it... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roadbed Guy, the fan man

    The obsession with the missing plane is not all about "closure", it's about a story people can relate to. Everyone knows what it's like to fly... and many of us know what it's like to be anxious about flying.

    But do you have any personal experience with climate change? GMOs? the keystone pipeline? Immigration policy? these things are all abstract to most people... and their eyes glaze-over these subjects. They just can't grasp the essence of them, and derive any feeling from them. So, they just say "meh", and move on.

    But cat videos on the other hand?!?!? purrrrrrrr

    Freedom isn't free. That's why we pay taxes.

    by walk2live on Tue May 06, 2014 at 09:53:13 PM PDT

  •  It's interesting (0+ / 0-)

    because it's a mystery.   As long as it remains so, anything seems plausible;  terrorism, alien abduction?  

    An acquaintance who is a air traffic controller has a theory that the playboy co-pilot wanted to bring a girl into the cockpit to impress her, but the captain said no, and they got in a fight where the first officer accidentally killed the captain, then was so ashamed he decided to take his life and that of everyone else on board so no one would find out so he turned the plane and turned off the cabin oxygen.

  •  Junk News: satifies a craving, cheap to make. (0+ / 0-)

    No big revelation here. These items satisfy and exercise our pattern seeking instinct but require no further action on our part.

    Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

    by the fan man on Wed May 07, 2014 at 03:54:59 AM PDT

  •  It shows how dependent we are on technology. (0+ / 0-)

    People may claim to be religious but the real religion is the belief that technology is not infallible.

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