Time to Boycott John Oliver and HBO

I believe in voting with my wallet whenever I can. For me, that means a boycott of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver after this week’s  on third party candidates Jill Stein and Gary Johnson.
I encourage you to do the same.

It was a heartbreaking piece of propaganda, because I enjoy the show. It has moved satire toward journalism in a way that’s very pleasing to me as one of the thousands of public service journalists laid off by the mainstream news media in recent years.

The deal-breaker was Oliver’s lampooning of the wonderful idea that we could offer free college to our kids in this country, like most modern European nations. Instead of setting them up for a lifetime of debt slavery.

Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein both back free college for some very good reasons. However, Oliver equated free college with Trump’s imbecile plan to build a border wall with Mexico.

This political hit was clearly meant to advance Hillary and win points for Oliver with her financial backers at Time Warner – which runs HBO and Last Week Tonight. The Democratic standard bearer is also backed by  which runs Comedy Central and The Daily Show where Oliver first gained fame.

The free ride Oliver and his peers have given Hillary in recent months is a betrayal of the implied promise satirical shows will skewer all political hookers with equal zeal. Just as news organizations are expected to scrutinize them with equal enthusiasm.

The shameless favoritism is also unnecessary.

Hillary has been in politics for some 40 years. If she can’t handle a fatally flawed candidate like Donald Trump without the help of journalists and satirists then she has no business in the Oval Office. Whatsoever.

The ends apparently justify the means for Oliver, Warner Brothers and Viacom – which are receiving millions of dollars in political advertising revenue this year. However, they do not for many American workers and their families.

We’re struggling with the worst labor market since The Great Depression and looking for political options that put the faltering middle class ahead of Wall Street’s job-killing multinationals.

The Green Party led by Stein and the Libertarian Party led by Johnson are two of the more viable options. Especially now that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have made their with the beneficiaries of the status quo.

“Third party candidates can siphon off votes and potentially wind up electing an ideological opponent,” Oliver said on the show, noting that Al Gore would have defeated George W. Bush as president in 2000 if he had won Florida.

Oliver implied that Gore lost Florida by 537 votes because Third Party candidate Ralph Nader won the support of nearly 100,000 Floridians. Conveniently hanging the blame for one of the most disastrous presidencies in American history on exploited voters, instead of the political hookers controlling the two major parties. 

The implication being that the faltering middle class should turn a blind eye to the abuses of a Democratic Party which has given us one of the most corrupt Congresses in U.S. history, simply because Republicans are worse.

That’s not good enough for me.

Democratic venality generated $153 million in big banks bribes for the Clintons, which made them legal by recategorizing them as “speaking fees.”

The same overt Dem corruption has generated an $88 million fortune for House Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It was amassed during her 29 years in Congress, largely from inside trading.

Apparently, stock tips from Fortune 500 CEOs don’t count as bribes for one the most unpopular Congresses in U.S. history. A den of thieves with no term limits, no bars on insider trading, a record 271 millionaires, generous pensions and heath insurance for life.

Meanwhile, the faltering middle class faces the prospect of medical bankruptcy after working ourselves sick to cover laid off colleagues in the dubious pursuit of some kind of job security. At which point we have the option of tapping the 401k retirement accounts which have replaced our pensions for basic living expenses.

Once the 401k is gone we get to live in our cars.


Because the permanent economic underclass now occupies public housing for life. Projects originally conceived of as emergency housing for the laid off workers whose taxes helped build and maintain them.

It takes years just to get on the waiting list for public housing now. That means this safety-net is completely inaccessible for the vast majority of workers whose jobs have been shipped to China by a Fortune 500 which puts profit growth ahead of their fellow Americans.

The disastrous economic context of this election seems to have escaped so-called “winners” like Oliver at a time when U.S. adults are struggling with joblessness and near-poverty, according to The Associated Press.

What they don’t understand is that there is no such thing as a “jobless recovery” for idled workers. Middle class balance sheets get worse every year a breadwinner is without work, as savings and credit are further depleted.

This painful reality is not captured by the plethora of economic indicators that tell us “all is well.”

The U.S. unemployment rate was a respectable 4.9 percent in August, but the actual percentage of Americans without a job was 40.3 percent, according to the more reliable employment-to-population ratio. They can’t both be true.

The country is on the verge of open revolution as working Americans and homeless veterans live in the forest, while Oliver and his fellow elites live it up inside the NYC, DC and San Francisco privilege bubbles.

American workers and their families are in no mood to give either Democrats or Republicans a free ride at a time when U.S. companies are growing their profits by offshoring American jobs to low-wage nations and trimming older workers to reduce their health insurance premiums. Much less to be lectured by a privileged British comedian who received the same kind of affordable medicine and tuition in his youth he would would deny us.

Like many progressive Americans, I am well past my saturation point with the heavy-handed tactics of the Wall Street goons who own Clinton, Oliver, and the Democratic and Republican parties.
A reasonable person could expect the satirists to be skewering both major party turds in this disastrous election. Instead, we’re seeing a clear bias toward Hillary which mirrors the financial interests of the shows’ parent companies.
By contrast, voters are exploring options that put America’s faltering middle class ahead of Wall Street’s treasonous multinationals.
Through sins of omission, Oliver made Stein’s call for free college tuition sound like a financial impossibility. Even though The City College of New York offered free tuition for all until the 1970s and Cooper Union did so until 2014. Dozens of other schools still do in one way or another.
Meaning our nation has offered free tuition before and could easily do so again. Despite the 1,120 percent increase in U.S. college tuition costs over the past 30 years, .
Oliver’s omission of this historical context is the kind of knowing misrepresentation which makes it impossible for voters to reach informed decisions. It also opens the door to predatory business models like for-profit education.

“Coming from someone who made , and who claims to want alternatives to the failed two-party system, this disingenuous attack on the idea of canceling student debt is both puzzling and hypocritical,” Stein’s campaign said in . “It was beyond disappointing to see that our responses were completely ignored. The same tired, misleading attack lines were trotted out, and Oliver chose to misrepresent our campaign on the lone substantive issue that he addressed: our plan to cancel student debt.”

Adding insult to injury is the awkward fact that  himself actually is a beneficiary of Europe’s enlightened approach to affordable education and nationalized medicine. 
The funnyman is a graduate of the elite  (below right), which brings in an average  from its 657 students. That’s just 13 percent of the  tuition at a four-year school in the U.S.
The 39-year-old attended the prestigious in his childhood and has no personal experience with scarcity in either education or healthcare. 

The Rutherford School is funded by a trust and looks like the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter film series. It prohibits parental income from being factored into admission decisions and actually has a school restaurant instead of a cafeteria.

Clearly, nothing is too good for John Oliver. It appears that he never went to bed hungry as a child or had to choose between declaring bankruptcy after 30 years of hard work and going without critical medical care as an adult. The comedian never had to choose between a college education and a mortgage-sized student loan.

However, he wants all of that for the rest of us here in his adopted America.

Oliver is the son of a British headmaster, which is the equivalent of a school principal here in the U.S., and a music teacher. Meaning he wasn’t rich, but he was privileged in terms of opportunities at school.
The child of a teacher and principal is not going to come up on the short end of the stick on anything in the world of education. Whether it be an honors program, scholarship or expensive field trip.

This Englishman actually studied English in his English college. Which is akin to someone raised in the Bronx like me spending four years studying the origins of phrases like “fagedabowdid,” “not for nothing,” “homeboy,” “say it ain’t so,” “bust your fronts,” “you looking for trouble,” “knocking boots,” and “you think you’re better than me?”

In other words, it’s a dodgy major at best for someone who habitually and correctly pronounces “been” as “bean.” 

Oliver’s bias has also been on display in his handling of the reptilian Donald Trump.

Not because he trashes the boorish, lecherous silver spoon mofo. But because he doesn’t routinely trash equally boorish, lecherous silver spoon mofo – who typically backs Democratic candidates.

has been a and for Hillary. is worth about $43 billion and controls CBS, BET, Showtime, MTV and Paramount Studios.

Redstone is a lot like Trump, who has been a richly deserving target of Oliver’s satirical splendor. Both billionaires were born on third base and behave as if they hit a home run.

But don’t look for Redstone to be skewered on Last Week Tonight or The Daily Show any time soon. Even though he shares Trump’s narcissism, bullying demeanor, and affinity for sex with women young enough to be his granddaughter.

Right now the only sure way a member of America’s faltering middle class can secure affordable tuition for their kids is to send them to college overseas somewhere like Germany, Sweden, Norway or Denmark. Where college is free. Even to foreigners.
Same goes for medicine.
Free medicine and free college tuition are financially doable. That’s why we already provide them to kids in our society from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Extending free medicine and college to all Americans is financially doable in much the same way as the $4.6 trillion the U.S. government has already spent bailing out the financial institutions responsible for The Great Recession, .
Doable in exactly the same way McDonalds could feed you for 25 cents a meal, but charges $10 instead. And Disney could entertain your family of four for $40 a day but charges $800 instead.
Why do they overcharge like this?
It’s called “gouging.” Meaning profits beyond all reason.
You know, like the hedge fund sleaze who raised the cost of an AIDS drug by 900 percent and the Clinton ally who tried to pull the same garbage with the EpiPen?
Gouging is usually advanced by monopolistic businesses and industries where competition is hindered by collusion. Our antitrust regulators are supposed to police this perversion of free markets, but don’t.

“In Iceland, the bankers who destroyed their economy are in jail,” said the Stein campaign. “In the USA, they are laughing at us from country clubs and yachts.” 

Bottom line, Americans can put a man on the Moon and a generation of political hookers in Congress. However, John Oliver and his corporate owners say we don’t possess the know-how to do what Europe already does in terms of free college tuition and healthcare for all.


One of the big reasons they cite is the ridiculous idea the inflated prices in these industries created by collusion, artificial scarcity, and pay-to-play politics are the only prices which can be used to calculate the true cost of free medicine and college tuition. They’re not. 

The prices used in this analysis should be set at cost. Not at cost plus absurd profit margins as they are now. That alone would probably trim the totals more than 50 percent.

That’s also probably why Oliver’s alma maters are so affordable.
How do nations our troops saved during World War II accomplish such things and still sustain record corporate profit growth?

They don’t.
Instead, they put their own people first. Ahead of the corporate hamster wheel that is perennial profit growth.
Ain’t nothing wrong with turning a profit. But we all know how much is too much. The baseline of 8 percent profit growth per year ensures every growth company eventually goes too far.
Sadly, with savage capitalism they usually reach that point just before declaring bankruptcy. Like Boston Market, The Sports Authority, Enron and on and on.
Our mature publicly traded corporations have become like aging celebrities who use cosmetic surgery to create the illusion of forever youth right up until the day they die. AKA Casey Kasem, Joan Rivers, and Dick Clark, Michael Jackson, and Burt Reynolds.
All of which makes you think that comedian Dave Chappelle might have known exactly what he was doing when he told the corporate goons at Comedy Central “no mas” at the height of his popularity in 2006. If John Oliver had been half as principled he would have too.

Instead of monetizing his intellectual dignity as he did this week.

I’m not sure what language a Brit like Oliver would use to describe the gist of a column like this. However, I have a feeling the working class Cockneys of East London – who remind me so much of the Bronx of my youth – would say something along the lines of “Why don’t you bugger off mate?”

It sounds like a question. but actually is a declarative statement. As any poser who has ever majored in English in Jolly Old England can tell you.

Correction: Early versions of this article incorrectly identified the entertainment company broadcasting Last Week Tonight.


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