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Flickr photo by Cosmic Smudge.

There was no shortage of political signs among the estimated 250,000 people who attended Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity Saturday on the National Mall.  Public Citizen’s voice was heard through the 5,000 signs it distributed bearing the winning slogans from its Signs for Sanity Contest.

While Stewart might have been spreading his message on stage, organizations and individuals took to the mall.

“One of the motivating reasons that people are attending is their frustration with the overweening corporate presence in politics and we want to give voice to that,” Public Citizen’s President Robert Weissman told Politico.

Public Citizen also collected signatures at the rally  for a constitutional amendment overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
Stewart’s and Colbert’s antics were entertaining and certainly the highlight of the rally, but the people in attendance and the messages they brought also helped define the rally.

“What is it that is going to define the rally the morning after?” James Poniewozik, a senior writer on popular culture for Time magazine, told NPR. “Is it what is said from the stage? Or the groups of people that show up, and the signs they carry, and their political leanings?”

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From Jon Stewart’s closing remarks at his Rally to Restore Sanity on the National Mall:

“I can’t control what people think this was.  I can only tell you my intentions.   This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith or people of activism or to look down our noses at the heartland or passionate argument or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear.  They are and we do.  But we live now in hard times, not end times.  And we can have animus and not be enemies.

The Examiner has the full text of his speech.

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Flickr photo by cliff1066™

We scoured Flickr for some of the best photos from Jon Stewart’s and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity. Check out some of the best rally signs after the jump.

We at Public Citizen are strong supporters of rational discourse and would like to thank everyone we met at the rally who signed our petition for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United ruling. If you didn’t get a chance to sign, you can still do so by visiting www.DontGetRolled.org.

Flickr photo by Public Citizen.

Flickr photo by TalkMediaNews.

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Flickr photo by CrazyJoeDavola

Let’s get this out of the way up front — Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity was insane. If the National Mall had been a bar, the fire marshal would have closed it down two hours before the Daily Show host even took the stage. The Daily Show estimated the crowd at 250,000. I have no idea how they came up with that number but I’m going to go out on a limb and say there were more.

That’s the only certainty about Jon Stewart’s and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear — that no one is going to agree on how many people actually attended.

Every major rally or protest in Washington, D.C. in the last 15 years (since the National Park Service stopped providing crowd estimates) has had differing attendance counts, often by hundreds of thousands of people.

The bigger question and more important one is what impact, if any, did the event have on the people who attended the D.C. rally? Was the gathering nothing more than the world’s largest flash mob? Or will some of the people who traveled from far and near look back upon it as a seminal event in their lives?

I’d love to hear what people who attended or watched it on TV think.

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Today’s Flickr photo

Let the sanity commence! Flickr photo by antisocialtory.

If you read one thing today…

Public Citizen supporters want to take on corporate power, Public Citizen’s “What Sign Should I Bring To Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity” showed, portraying the public’s frustration with the corporate-dominated status quo in Washington. Of the thousands of submissions, Public Citizen chose our fave four to print and distribute tomorrow on the National Mall.  Here are the winners and their prize slogans:

  • “Separation of Corporation and State” (Elizabeth, North Carolina);
  • “We, the People NOT We, the Corporations” (Alan, Colorado);
  • “It’s a Democracy, Not an Auction” (Eric, Washington state); and
  • “Keep Your Government Hands Off My Corporate Overlords!” (Ken, Washington state).

Overheard

“Sanity is no simple proposition in Washington, D.C., where narrow corporate interests routinely block commonsense policies to strengthen our nation and preserve our planet,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Our contest’s submissions highlight that restoring sanity requires taking on corporate power.”

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Now, that you’ve figured out what sign you’re bringing to Jon Stewart’s and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, there’s a few things you should know about navigating the nation’s capital. So, we’ve provided the above video as a helpful guide for this weekend’s visitors.

Public Citizen will be on the National Mall handing out signs from our slogan contest (see the winning entries here and if you’re a real glutton for punishment, see the nearly 6,000 entries here) and gathering petition signatures for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling. That’s the decision that opened the way for the anonymous corporate cash that is flooding this year’s elections.

So, look for us Saturday and sign our petitions and get one of the 5,000 signs we’ll be handing out. And, most importantly, please don’t stand on the left side of the escalator. We’ve got places to go.

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We have a winner!

Actually, four winners. From the thousands of slogans submitted in our “What Sign Should I Bring to Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity?” Contest, we couldn’t pick just one.

Here are the winning slogans (along with the name and state of the first person to suggest each one):

Separation of Corporation and State (Elizabeth, North Carolina)

We, the People NOT We, the Corporations (Alan, Colorado)

It’s a Democracy, Not an Auction (Eric, Washington)

Keep Your Government Hands Off My Corporate Overlords! (Ken, Washington)

And a few runners-up that made us laugh:

If It Weren’t for CNN, I’d Have No Idea What Was Happening on Twitter (Claire, New Jersey)

Wait, What Are We Protesting Again? (RJ, Florida)

If You Think Money Is Speech, Try Paying Your Visa Bill With an Essay (Bruce, Michigan)

Read more slogans on the contest page.

Look for us at the rally! We’ll be decked out in spiffy Public Citizen t-shirts and handing out signs at nearby Metro (subway) stations. Get there early and get your sign before they’re all taken. Then show your Public Citizen pride by holding your sign as high as you can all day. Or, you know, until your arms get tired.

Thanks to the thousands of Public Citizen members and activists who submitted slogans. We really enjoyed reading them!

Hope to see you on the Mall this Saturday.

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Today’s Flickr Photo

Flickr photo by woodleywonderworks.

If you read one thing today . . .

There are a lot of books and movies popping up about the causes and consequences of the 2008 financial meltdown but, apparently, there aren’t many that look at the sub-prime mortgage racket the way Michael W. Hudson does in his book, The Monster: How A Gang of Predatory Lenders and Wall Street Lenders Fleeced America—And Spawned A Global Crisis. Hudson talks to Mother Jones about how the sub-prime market began in Southern California:

If you had to pick one figure that did more than anyone else to grow the subprime market, and grow it into the monster that it became, it would be Roland Arnall. Now, Countrywide and Angelo Mozilo played a big role, but they were very late to the game. Mozilo, especially in the ’90s, was nervous about subprime, and worried about getting into it. It wasn’t until Ameriquest and a few other Orange County-based subprime outfits really showed that you could make lots and lots of money, and really started threatening Countrywide’s market share, that Countrywide got into it.

Overheard:

Monday kicked off Jon Stewart’s week in Washington, D.C., which ends, of course, with the mother of all rallies, the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear on Saturday. In a segment about NPR’s firing of Juan Willliams, Stewart tosses to Jason Jones who is driving around, lost, looking for the Supreme Court. Anyone who has tried to drive in the nation’s capitol will get this:

“I’m in a six-lane traffic circle that leads to an underpass . . . and that leads to another goddamn traffic circle. This Frenchified city layout makes no freaking sense. How hard is it to lay out a grid?”

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If Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert and their “competing” Washington D.C. rallies don’t have your attention by now, you  a) have just woken up from a 25-year coma b) live in a shack in Montana where you are working on your great anti-technology manifesto, or c) are among the 4 percent of the population who truly believes President Obama might actually have been born in the Alpha Centauri solar system.

When both Big Os — Oprah and Obama — endorse your Rally to Restore Sanity, you know you might be on to something. Since Sept. 16, when Stewart announced his Oct. 30 rally, along with Stephen Colbert’s satirical March to Keep Fear Alive, 180,000 people on Facebook have said they plan to attend the event, while another 100,000 have said they might.

Public Citizen plans to be there, and we’ve been encouraging people to submit ideas for signs that we’ll hand out at the rally on the National Mall. We plan to pick the slogan that we think best sums up the message we want to share with the throngs of people who will be packed in front of the Lincoln Memorial. So far, more than 3,000 slogans have been entered in our “What Sign Should I Bring to Jon Stewart’s ‘Rally to Restore Sanity’ ” contest. Another 1,000 people have joined the accompanying Facebook page, and hundreds more are spreading the word on Twitter with the hashtag #signs4sanity.

Picking the best one is going to be difficult. We’ll be asking our Facebook fans to help, but in the end,  we may have to resort to the old picking a slogan out of a hat method. You can read the thousands of sign suggestions and enter your own at www.citizen.org/jon-stewart-sanity-rally-signs.

Generally, the sign suggestions fall into five categories: (more…)

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By David Arkush and Christine Hines

Jon Stewart, the popular host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and “America’s most trusted newsman,”  regularly imparts an astute critique of American political affairs and media.

The comic’s recent two-part exchange with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, for instance, elicited – in between the funny jabs – thoughtful, nuanced discussion on policy, politics, and the president. As Daily Show fans though, we cringed a little during his chat with O’Reilly when they briefly discussed so-called “tort reform,” the phrase used by the health industry and big business to advocate taking away your access to the courts

O’Reilly first broached the issue when Stewart was a guest on Fox’s O’Reilly Factor. He complained that President Obama could have worked with Republicans during the health care reform debate by adding “tort reform” to the bill. Stewart shot back that the president said he was willing to compromise on the issue, a priority for Republicans, even though it wouldn’t save much in health care costs. In their second conversation, this time at the Daily Show. Stewart blasted the extent of corruption, in media and finances (financial services?), and then strangely expressed a willingness to offer “right wing tort reform,” as he called it. It wasn’t clear why he mentioned it. Perhaps to suggest he would bargain on the issue in exchange for measures that curb corruption.

We’re with him on the need to end corruption. Government and corporate accountability are at a serious low point; we’ve proposed (more…)

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