On Sunday, John Oliver took on the FBI's continuing demands for Apple to unlock a cellphone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. Speaking largely on Apple's side of the debate, the Last Week Tonight host explained the importance of encryption and broke down what's at stake in the high-profile battle:
"There is no easy side to be on in this debate," Oliver said. "Strong encryption has its costs, from protecting terrorists to drug dealers to child pornographers. But I happen to feel that the risks of weakening encryption, even a little bit, even just for the government, are potentially much worse."
Even Sen. Lindsey Graham, who first came out strongly against Apple for refusing to comply with the FBI's orders, recently admitted that upon further research, he's realized the government's orders could pose an enormous risk to Americans' security.
"It's just not so simple," Graham told Attorney General Loretta Lynch during a hearing on the subject last week. "I thought it was that simple—I was all with you until I actually started getting briefed by people in the intel community and I will say that I'm a person who's been moved by the arguments that the precedent we set and the damage we may be doing to our own national security."
As Oliver notes, it's a "miracle" Graham has finally grasped the concept of nuance.
Stacey Dash played Dionne in the wonderful film Clueless. She also has very retrograde views on race! She has now made a video for Independent Journal Review, where the joke is that she is the Director of Minority Outreach in Hollywood, a position the real Dash would probably think shouldn't exist because racism is dead or something. In the clip, Director of Minority Outreach Dash goes to CPAC to find some minorities to be movie stars and they read lines from Clueless.
3) These conservatives she met at CPAC are not very good actors. Watching them butcher a '90s classic is fun in a hate-watching sort of way.
4) In the end, Dash sends the audition tapes to Tyler Perry and Spike Lee and says "I would love to be a fly on the wall when they open up those envelopes." I sincerely doubt Tyler Perry and Spike Lee are going to open those envelopes.
On Wednesday, Wired published a story about Donald Trump and the virality of marginal media subjects we've had the pleasure of laughing at during this election season. And thanks to a nifty Chrome extension and the ensuing correction it brought on, the story itself has turned into viral gold:
On Monday, Stephen Colbert took a few minutes to address Donald Trump's boast about the size of his penis during the most recent Republican debate, expressing his utter disbelief that such a vulgar remark could be made by a presidential candidate. At one point, the Late Show host couldn't even keep a straight face while delivering a joke about the GOP front-runner's less than presidential comments.
"This man is talking about the size of his schvantz in a presidential debate," Colbert said. "This is someone who could have his fingers on the button—and God, I hope it's his finger. We don't know if it could reach the button. We have no idea! The Russians could launch and he could be trying to reach the button."
"I can't believe that these are absolutely legitimate jokes to be making about a presidential debate right now," he added.
Judging by Donald Trump's sweeping victories on Super Tuesday, Republican voters have decidedly ignored John Oliver's plea to #MakeDonaldDrumpf again and are on track to nominate the "serial liar" for president—at least for the time being.
But that doesn't mean the Last Week Tonight host is done skewering Trump or his GOP rivals, especially after last week's vulgar debate in Detroit, in which the real estate magnate boasted about the size of his penis on national television.
"That's right, Donald Trump just talked about his dick during a presidential debate," Oliver said. "A dick which I presume looks like a Cheeto with the cheese dust rubbed off."
He then played audio excerpts of Trump's ex-wife's equally cringeworthy romance novel, read by Morgan Fairchild.
As Oliver declared last night, welcome to "Clowntown Fuck-the-World Shitshow 2016."
Thanks to her dry, deadpan delivery, Jennifer O'Connor could fool a careless listener into thinking she's cool and detached. Au contraire. On her fine sixth album, and first outing in five years, this unassuming yet gifted singer-songwriter quietly injects her catchy folk-pop with shots of undiluted raw emotion, telling gripping stories of hearts in turmoil without slipping into cheesy melodrama. As evidenced by the use of her music in an iPhone ad and such TV shows as Orange Is the New Black, O'Connor can craft smooth melodies you'll want to hum all day, but her real gift is the casually tossed-off lyric that cuts straight to the heart of a desperate situation. "Where do you go, when the road ahead just ends?/'Cause you made the same wrong turn over and over again," she murmurs in "The Road," while "It's Gonna Get Worse" finds her calmly asking, "Tell me why you stand there, staring at your feet," adding tersely, "Take out the trash." Elsewhere, the hushed closing track "Black Sky Blanket" would do Lou Reed proud. Title to the contrary, Surface Noise is insightful, subtle, and intriguing.
Singer-guitarists Anna Fox Rochinski and Shane Butler, who contribute the lion's share of the material on Quilt's arresting third album (with solid drummer John Andrews filling out the lineup) are clearly talented writers, but the sheer gorgeous sound of the band is so intoxicating that it almost doesn't matter. Like its predecessor, the engrossing Held in Splendor, Plaza offers a dreamy mind excursion, mixing soothing male-female vocal harmonies with swirling folk-rock guitars and strings for a potent escapist cocktail. Evoking the late-'60s, when soft pop and loopy psychedelia intersected to delicious effect, mesmerizing tracks like "O'Connor's Barn" and "Eliot St." make a twee first impression before the luscious melodies kick in, and you're hooked. If Plaza sometimes feels like a decadent indulgence, so be it!
Various Artists God Don't Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson
Various Artists The Rough Guide to Bottleneck Blues
Courtesy of Alligator Records
The great gospel blues artist Blind Willie Johnson left behind a legacy of just 30 songs, recorded between 1927 and 1930, that drew their primal power from his ferociously raspy voice and thunderous acoustic slide guitar. Underscoring his lasting impact, the exciting tribute album God Don't Never Change is a fitting salute, starring some obvious kindred spirits and a few surprises among the admirers. Rickie Lee Jones, Lucinda Williams and Tom Waits (whose skid-row vocal style seems directly descended from Johnson's) hew closely to the spirit of the master, while Cowboy Junkies get uncharacteristically down and dirty on "Jesus Is Coming Soon" and veteran blues dude Luther Dickinson lends an unexpected delicacy to "Bye and Bye I'm Going to See the King," with assistance from the Rising Star Fife & Drum Band." Ideally, this excellent set will also send listeners back to Johnson's own timeless, still unsurpassed, recordings.
One good place to start is The Rough Guide to Bottleneck Blues, whose leadoff track is Johnson's thrilling "It's Nobody's Fault but Mine" (later "borrowed" by Led Zeppelin). While the compilation doesn't include the electric bottleneck playing popularized by Elmore James and Duane Allman, this 25-song feast is a fine survey of the varied sounds possible when country bluesmen applied anything from a glass bottleneck to a pocketknife to their acoustic guitar strings. Ranging from hauntingly tender to scarily brutal, highlights include Leadbelly's "C.C. Rider," a staple for R&B artists and blues-rock bands through the years, the charming "The Hula Blues," from Jim and Bob (The Genial Hawaiians), and "When the Saints Go Marching In," by Blind Willie Davis. But there's not a dud to be found. Here's to a volume two.
To help explain what's at stake for women and how the case could could affect abortion clinics nationwide, Samantha Bee recently dedicated a segment of her new show to a conversation with one of the legislators who crafted HB 2, the 2013 Texas anti-abortion law central to the dispute. But once Bee sat down with Texas Rep. Dan Flynn, it became obvious that he didn't know too much about women's health, reproduction, or the lack of evidence that the HB 2 restrictions, which have radically curtailed reproductive rights in his state, are medically necessary.
"I'm not a doctor," he said at one point. "I don't know, but I've listened to many doctors tell me about the procedures that happen when you do an invasive surgery."
Bee looked stunned. "You don't seem to know anything specifically about abortion really at all, and yet you did all this with building regulations," Bee responded.