Tag Archives: comedy

Haters of free speech will get the repressive nation that they deserve

Image by Tyler Shields, YouTube

Comedienne Kathy Griffin is pictured above during a photo shoot last week in which she held up a prosthetic severed head of “President” Pussygrabber. Never mind the United States’ long history of the butchery of and the savagery against innocents that continues to this day; this act against yet another stupid white man by an uppity woman, in which no one actually was even harmed, was a bridge too far!

Living in a nation with truly free speech means that your precious sensibilities are going to be offended from time to time.

You’re going to have to get over it. (Please don’t make me have to call you a snowflake, and yes, there are snowflakes on the right as well as on the left.)

The first brouhaha this past week was when Kathy Griffin posed with a fairly realistic-looking replica of “President” Pussygrabber’s bloody severed head and posted it to the Internet on Tuesday. She held the fake head up to the camera like Perseus holding up the head of Medusa.

While the image certainly fulfilled a fantasy for millions, including me, I can’t say that it was funny. Just grisly.

And, of course, Griffin, or at least her handler(s) — assuming that she has one or more of them — should have known that depicting the violent death of the sitting “president,” especially if you are a famous or semi-famous person with an audience, would cause backlash.* It also gets you a visit from the men in black of the Secret Service.

I mean, Pussygrabber’s life is worth protecting as much as was that of our last wonderful Repugnican “president,” who also took office without actually having won the most votes and who is a complete and total baby-boomer buffoon (I know: redundant), but still, Griffin should have known.

To me, Griffin’s biggest “crime” is that she is a comedienne but that her Pussygrabber head thing wasn’t funny — just grisly. And, yes, fantasy-fulfilling. But not funny. (That said, I’ve never gravitated to Griffin, whose work I’m mostly unfamiliar with, and maybe that’s just because she overall isn’t very funny.)

But should Griffin be driven out of all paid work (if there still is a demand for her work in the so-called marketplace of ideas) for the head-of-Pussygrabber incident? No.

I’m not a fan of hers, but if we want free speech and if we want content, we’re going to have to cut our providers of content some slack when they fuck up. They’re probably not going to get it right 100 percent of the time. We expect too much of them.

On that note, on Friday night during his live politicocomedic talk show on HBO, Bill Maher remarked that he won’t work the fields of Repugnican U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse’s Nebraska because he is a “house nigger,” and that, of course, has prompted calls for his show’s cancellation, and such a call is only going to backfire on the Only Black Lives Matter** set.

Don’t get me wrong; I have problems with Maher’s show. Pretty much every fucking week he has to get in a dig against those Muslims who are violent and oppressive, as though Islam had the monopoly on violence and oppression.

(I’m a gay man in the so-called land of the free, and I didn’t get the right to marry until only two fucking years ago this month, and that’s mostly because of those loving, wonderful “Christians,” who, instead of more honestly just blowing you up with a suicide vest, kill you with their “Christian” “kindness.”)

Maher’s Islamophobic comments are way beyond old and tired, and his handler or handlers should have reined him in on this long ago. Yes, he has his own show, but using his show to constantly verbalize his own personal pet peeves and prejudices, while it very apparently makes him feel better, degrades the show.

Maher on his show also frequently blasts so-called Democratic “purists,” that is, we progressives. We commoners are supposed to just shut the fuck up, sit the fuck down, and just accept a certain amount of self-serving, double-dealing, greed and corruption from so-called Democrats, you see.

It’s funny, because “Democratic” impurity doesn’t harm Maher. He’s a millionaire baby boomer (he gave a cool million dollars to Barack Obama for his re-election), and so he has plenty of buffer in money and in power, regardless of who (or what) is in the White House.

Baby-boomer millionaire and limousine liberal Maher isn’t affected by what we commoners are affected by. He has the best health care that money can buy, I’m sure, and if he had kids he’d have no problem putting them though the best universities. I rather doubt that he lives paycheck to paycheck or worries about ever being homeless.

So instead of bashing “purists” who have a lot more skin in the game than he does, Maher should check his rich, white, baby-boomer, limousine-liberal privilege.

Very much related to that, Maher’s throwaway use of the term “house nigger” demonstrated his privilege. It is easy for a rich, white baby boomer, whose life is quite comfortable, to make a casual, unfunny joke about the brutal system of U.S. slavery in which some black slaves had less arduous forced tasks than others.

Again, Maher’s “house nigger” “joke” wasn’t even funny. It was stupid and throwaway. (I watched Maher make the remark on HBO’s streaming service, and “the ‘n’-word” was edited out by muting it; it is the first word that I recall ever having been edited from his show, which is profuse with profanity, which I’m OK with.)

Like Kathy Griffin, Bill Maher is supposed to be a comedian, and one might argue that the only real wrong a comedian or comedienne can commit is to fail to be funny.

That said, Maher has apologized for his “house nigger” comment, and coming from him, I think that his apology most likely is sincere.

Should his show be cancelled because of it? No.

Is Maher a racist? Sure, to those black supremacists and race hustlers who believe that every white person is racist (even though, ironically, the race-hustling black supremacists are incredibly racist themselves), of course Maher is a racist, but I don’t know too many white racists who gave Barack Obama a million dollars and who have dated black women, and I have been watching Maher’s show for some time now, and he regularly has black guests, very probably at a proportion that significantly exceeds blacks’ percentage of the U.S. population (which is 13 percent).

One of Maher’s many frequent black guests is Cornel West, of whom I’m a huge fan.***

Maher gives West and other black Americans a voice that they often don’t get in widely broadcast television shows that are watched by a lot of white Americans, so it’s perversely ironic that any black Americans would call for his show’s cancellation.

(Black Americans’ No. 1 pastime, it seems, is shooting themselves in the fucking foot, such as how they supported Billary Clinton over the much more popular Bernie Sanders by a margin of about three to one [which has reeked of anti-white racism (and perhaps also of anti-Semitism) to me], helping to ensure that the widely despised Repugnican-Lite Billary lost the White House to Donald Fucking Trump in November.)

All of that said, yes, Maher needs to check his privilege, not only his white privilege, but also his class and generational privilege.

But his having uttered “the ‘n’-word” in a lame and tone-deaf apparent attempt to be funny doesn’t in one fell swoop wipe out all of the overall good that Maher’s show still has. (If his show didn’t have more good than bad, I wouldn’t still be watching it regularly.)

Maher needs to be further educated and further enlightened, not utterly destroyed, and the Only Black Lives Matter set apparently still needs to learn that mercilessly calling for the complete, total and utter destruction of offending/“offending” whites (which, ironically, is just part and parcel of their own racial supremacism) — instead of calling for the education and enlightenment of whites (where such education and enlightenment is possible) — only is going to drive more whites away from their cause/“cause” than toward it. (Which, ironically, at least on a subconscious level probably is their intent, given that actual interracial reconciliation very apparently actually is the last thing that they want.)

I, for one, don’t want to live in a United States of America in which all of the Bill Mahers are driven out of the marketplace of ideas, leaving us only the white supremacists (the vast majority of whom vote Repugnican) and the black supremacists (many if not most of whom only use the Democratic Party to further their selfish, racist agenda of black supremacism, and so who aren’t at all actually progressive themselves) to churn out their hateful speech.

If those of us who are sane and progressive don’t protect First-Amendment rights — which includes protecting those whose hearts are mostly in the right place from being the victims of incredibly hypocritical political-correctness lynch mobs when and if they ever cross the political-correctness line — then that is the kind of nation that we’ll live in.

*Yes, awful, racist, inexcusable things routinely were said of Barack Obama and of his family members, but I don’t recall any celebrity, major or minor, ever having posed with a prosthetic severed head of President Obama. Just sayin’.

**Anyone who has read me regularly knows that I support the political push for greater racial equality, including stopping cops from routinely shooting (and otherwise harming and killing) unarmed black men (and other historically oppressed minorities), ending the insane incarceration rate of non-whites, and tackling our insane rate of income inequality, which harms people of all races.

Of course black lives matter, but Black Lives Matter needs to rein in the black supremacists among its ranks, and I refer only to those black supremacists as the “Only Black Lives Matter” set — because that is their mindset, their worldview: they care only about black people, and for anyone of any race to care only about people of his or her own race is some incredibly fucked-up, and racist, shit.

***Cornel West is a true progressive who doesn’t kiss the center-right Democratic Party establishment’s ass. He courageously consistently has been appropriately critical of Barack Obama and of Billary Clinton and, being an actual progressive, he supported Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.

And in a wonderful move consistent with acting according to his conscience, although West was on the committee that wrote the Democratic Party’s 2016 platform, he nonetheless ended up endorsing Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein instead of Billary, and I voted for Stein in November just as I voted for her in 2012, as I don’t vote for DINOs, but for actual progressives.

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‘SNL’ wasn’t funny on Saturday night (because fascism, racism aren’t funny)

Larry David May Get $5,000 For Yelling

It’s chilling that “Saturday Night Live” relentlessly makes fun of the one presidential candidate who would benefit the highest number of people were he to sit in the Oval Office, yet chooses as its guest host the one who probably is the most fascistic. Above, Larry David, who has just portrayed the “unelectable” Bernie Sanders unfairly unflatteringly again in “SNL’s” “cold open,” yells “Trump’s a racist!” during Donald Trump’s monologue — because Trump’s real-life racism and race-baiting, and further afflicting the already afflicted and further comforting the already comfortable, are funny, you see.

I try to have at least somewhat of a thick skin, and I think it’s generally important that one’s own cows that aren’t all that sacred, but “Saturday Night Live” went way too far on Saturday night.

No, it’s not that you can make fun of the right wing (yes, I still suspect that Tina Fey’s Emmy-Award-winning rendition of Sarah Palin on “SNL” hurt the McCain-Palin ticket in 2008) but never the left wing.

It’s that when you make fun of the right wing, you’re usually making fun of the rich and/or the powerful, of those who routinely afflict the already downtrodden. The targets of such parody deserve their comeuppance, albeit only their comedic comeuppance (which is usually the most comeuppance that they’ll ever receive here in the United States of America, where “justice” is but a word).

But when you make fun of the left wing, unless you explicitly are making fun of limousine liberals (who are, in my book, because of their rank hypocrisy, very fair game [and who sure love fellow limo liberal Billary Clinton]), you usually are making fun of those who already are downtrodden and/or of those who are standing up for the downtrodden. And that’s not humor. That’s bullying.

And the bullying began right at “SNL’s” opening, in which Larry David, apparently high from his first portrayal of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on “SNL,” returned for another portrayal of him, this time in a mock-up of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow’s Democratic presidential candidates’ forum (which aired on Friday night), which, we are told right out of the gate, means “a debate that no one watches.” Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! (Actually, Rachel Maddow’s viewership, especially among younger adults, apparently is doing just fine. But if we say that there is no audience for left-of-center media content, that makes it true, right?)

Last time on “SNL,” Larry David’s great Bernie Sanders joke was that Bernie Sanders owns one pair of underwear! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!  This time, the hilarious Larry-David-as-Bernie-Sanders gag was that Bernie Sanders wants only your pennies — not your shiny and new pennies, but your old and nasty pennies retrieved from your vacuum cleaner, your “vacuum pennies.” Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaa!

“SNL’s” Larry David’s Bernie Sanders from Saturday night also picks from the mock Rachel Maddow an envelope (containing a question or a dare, apparently) from the far left — “so far left,” he says, “it could never be elected.” Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaa! Because NBC will tell us commoners who is and who is not electable, you see! We mere serfs to our corporate masters cannot (and will not) be trusted with such important decisions!

Larry David has some of Bernie Sanders’ mannerisms, such as the periodic tongue swipe, down — I’ll give him that — but overall the writers of “SNL” (who are, in the end, let’s just acknowledge it, corporate whores) very apparently don’t know where to take their Sanders gags outside of portraying him as a grumpy old man (“Of course I hate you; I hate everyone,” he tells the mock Maddow on Saturday night’s show) who’s huge on austerity (replete with owning only one pair of underwear and requesting only “vacuum pennies”).

Never mind that the real-life Sanders is older and is serious (because our nation and our planet face serious challenges) but isn’t grumpy, and never mind that the real-life Sanders does not actually preach personal austerity (such as advocating the possession of only one pair of underwear, and not one penny of the hundreds of dollars that I have given him for his campaign came from a vacuum cleaner), but he does preach against corporate abuses.

But corporate abuses are A-OK to a corporation like NBC, which demonstrated the stunningly poor judgment to allow fascist presidential aspirant Donald Trump to host its show on Saturday night.

Scroll down to the bottom of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign website’s home page and you’ll see the words “Paid for by Bernie 2016 (not the billionaires).” (Again, you won’t see any mention of “vacuum pennies”…)

Bernie Sanders isn’t a billionaire, but Donald Trump is, so which presidential aspirant does “SNL” invite as its guest host? The billionaire, of course, not the one who fights against billionaires. “SNL” invites as its host the billionaire bully, not the one who stands up to the billionaire bullies. And this fascistic slop is served up to us serfs by our corporate master NBC as “entertainment” and even “comedy.”

(And yes, Sanders and Trump are pretty equal, politically speaking. What they both have in common right now is that both of them are in the top two in the partisan presidential polling for Iowa, New Hampshire and the nation, and both lead in New Hampshire right now. [See here and here.])

I don’t use the term “fascist” lightly. I don’t use it as a slam, although it is, rightfully, a slam; I use the term in its dictionary-definition sense. A Laurence W. Britt, a political scientist, a dozen years ago listed 14 characteristics of fascism that we’ve seen in world history. Most of these characteristics are quite apparent in Donald Trump’s campaign for the White House (and already have been put into practice by the Repugnican Tea Party, if not by El Trumpo himself):

  1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.
  2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.
  3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people’s attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice — relentless propaganda and disinformation — were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite “spontaneous” acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and “terrorists.” Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.
  4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.
  5. Rampant sexism. Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.
  6. A controlled mass media. Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes’ excesses.
  7. Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting “national security,” and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.
  8. Religion and ruling elite tied together. Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and proto-fascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite’s behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the “godless.” A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.
  9. Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of “have-not” citizens.
  10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated. Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.
  11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.
  12. Obsession with crime and punishment. Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. “Normal” and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or “traitors” was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.
  13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.
  14. Fraudulent elections. Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite. [Bush vs. Gore, anyone?]

Fascism isn’t funny, yet “Saturday Night Live” saw fit to have fascist Donald Trump as its guest host, and apparently sought to absolve itself with yet another “funny” “joke”: Larry David, fresh off of his second stint bashing Bernie Sanders for his corporate pimp NBC, yelled from the sidelines during Trump’s opening monologue, “You’re a racist!” and “Trump’s a racist!” — because, David said, he wanted the $5,000 reward that he’d heard any studio audience member who called Trump a “racist” during the show would receive. Trump responded that as a businessman, he couldn’t hold David’s greed against him. Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaaa!

Let me remind you that in June, Donald Trump stated, in his presidential announcement speech:

… When Mexico sends its people [to the United States], they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. … [“You,” I presume, would be (mostly if not entirely) white people who are “good” because they support Trump.] They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems [with them]. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. …

Trump has yet to back down from his anti-Latino-immigrant positions, including his ludicrous call for A Great Wall along the entire border between the United States and Mexico. That link is to his presidential campaign website, which also includes this lovely little anecdote:

Most recently, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, with a long arrest record, is charged with breaking into a 64 year-old woman’s home, crushing her skull and eye sockets with a hammer, raping her, and murdering her. The Police Chief in Santa Maria says the “blood trail” leads straight to Washington. [The link is the website’s, not mine, and this is a copy and paste, so the errors are entirely the website’s.]

Yes, not only does Trump need to buy himself a competent copy editor for his campaign website, but his campaign uses rhetoric that is chillingly reminiscent of the anti-Semitic rhetoric of the fascistic Nazi Party. Trump won’t tell you of the many murders and rapes committed by American citizens, especially by white ones; no, he will only single out heinous crimes committed by the “illegal aliens” — crimes that, of course, are committed by members of many demographics, especially when you have millions of members of these demographics in the United States.

Donald Trump would have you believe, for his own personal political gain, that only those crimes that he conveniently has singled out for the xenophobic and racist — the fascistic — political persecution of one group of people are the only crimes that occur in the United States of America — or, at least, the only ones that we should focus on and worry about.

By furthering the anti-intellectualism and the pro-plutocracy of fascism by consistently unfairly and inaccurately portraying the intellectual and the anti-plutocratic presidential aspirant Bernie Sanders in an unflattering light, and by trying to make light of presidential aspirant Donald Trump’s blatantly fascistic characteristics, NBC is only helping fascism to take even further root in the United States — which, only coinkily-dinkily, I’m sure, sure further benefits a corporation like NBC.

Fascism (including its racism and xenophobia) isn’t fucking funny, and I don’t think that I can think of “Saturday Night Live” or NBC in the same light ever again.

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False equivalence, even in ‘comedy,’ isn’t funny; it is dangerous

Bernie Sanders Reacts to Larry David's 'Saturday Night Live' Impersonation

Larry David admittedly does a pretty good Bernie Sanders impersonation, especially vocally, but I, for one, find corporately sponsored take-downs of Sanders to be chilling because there is a dark agenda of corporate self-preservation behind them. (By “self” I don’t mean to imply that corporations are people. They most certainly are not…)

It’s easy to laugh when a politician whom you despise is spoofed on “Saturday Night Live” or elsewhere. This was the case for me with parodies of Sarah Palin (Tina Fey won an Emmy for that portrayal) and yes, of Billary Clinton (both Amy Poehler and Kate McKinnon have done a pretty good job of portraying Her Highness).

It’s a little more difficult when the politician who’s being lampooned is your favorite, such as, in my case, Bernie Sanders.

Don’t get me wrong; Larry David overall did a great job as Bernie Sanders on last night’s “SNL.” He has Bernie’s voice down pat, and it’s OK, I suppose, for David or anyone else to portray Bernie as a bit of a crank, a curmudgeon (as David did). Long live free speech. (Did you detect my enthusiasm there?)

It’s that, of course, NBC is a mega-corporation, and so of course pro-corporate bias is going to seep even into a “comedy” show like “SNL.”

Larry David’s Bernie Sanders’ opening statement in “SNL’s” mock Democratic Party presidential debate of last night, for instance, includes: “We’re doomed! We need a revolution! Millions of people on the streets! And we’ve got to do something! And we’ve got to do it now!” He then pauses for a moment and then, waving his hand dismissively, declares: “Nah!”

David’s Bernie also declares, in his closing statement, that he’ll end up being Billary’s running mate, which is right in line with the corporate punditry’s “conventional wisdom” that Bernie can’t win. (He can, actually, but, of course, the corporatocrats and the corporate whores who love them will do what they can to ensure that Bernie doesn’t.)

Um, yeah, I don’t know. It’s important for us not to take everything too seriously, or at least to be able to laugh now and then, but the danger, it seems to me, of spoofing Bernie Sanders like this is that it’s meant to negate pretty much his entire message — which is awfully convenient, of course, not only for a corporation like NBC but for the entire elite establishment that benefits from the status quo, which hinges on corporations continuing to drain the life blood of working-class Americans and even destroying the planet itself in the process of profiteering obscenely.

It’s not really funny shit, and to laugh at it as though it were — Hey, if “SNL” is spoofing it, how serious can it be? — serves to enable us to continue to ignore it at our own collective peril.

Not that Bernie Sanders was the only one lampooned last night; the first words spoken by Kate McKinnon’s Billary Clinton in “SNL’s” mock Democratic debate are: “Oh, hello. Thank you for having me. I think you’re really going to like the Hillary Clinton that my team and I have created for this debate.” Ouch. (Because it’s so true.)

But while Billary Clinton indeed keeps rebranding herself like a human weather vane spinning around in a tornado (just very recently she went from being a proud “moderate” to being a “progressive”), Bernie Sanders isn’t a Chicken Little. The problems that he repeatedly talks about — such as climate change and insane income disparity — are severe and persistent, and it’s not difficult to foresee the future if we wave them all off like a joke, like Larry David’s Bernie Sanders does.

Another problem with spoofing presidential candidates and politicians in general is that there so often is the concern of the writers to give the appearance that everyone is being spoofed equally and that all sides of any political debate are presented as being equal. (This is meant to accomplish at least a few things, such as to avoid allegations of bias [probably especially by right-wing nut jobs] and to keep the money flowing [money might not keep on flowing if you have stepped on some toes].)

But that blatantly false equivalence so widely communicated within the corporately owned and controlled media, probably especially in the “news” media, inevitably infects our general discourse to the point that many if not most Americans cannot effectively and accurately analyze politics and politicians. They cannot discriminate between truth and bullshit and they often even (often enthusiastically) support politicians whose political practices harm them while only helping those who already are filthy rich.

The “tea-party” dipshits, whose darling right now apparently is billionaire Donald Trump, are experts at this, experts at being chickens supporting Colonel Sanders (who is not to be confused with Bernie Sanders).

How stupid is it to vote against your own best interests?

But millions of Americans do it every election, such as even with their blind support of Billary Clinton. (Well, Wall Street supports Billary, as it does Jeb! Bush, the Wall Street weasels’ top two beneficiaries, so their support of corporate whores like Clinton and Bush certainly makes selfish and greedy political sense for them, but the vast majority of us voters aren’t Wall Street weasels who will benefit directly from another Bush or Clinton presidency.)

Equal spoofing is bullshit because everything isn’t equal. To assert that it is is its own form of nihilism that, only in our own minds, lets us off of the hook of our duty, as the citizens and denizens of this nation, to ensure that our descendants, that all of the other species of life and the planet itself don’t continue to suffer degradation (or even extinction) in the future because of our selfishness, laziness and greediness in the present.

It’s not just “SNL”; take also 2004’s “Team America: World Police,” for instance. In that movie, which overall is pretty funny (with some truly hilarious scenes) and was a pretty good response to the hyper-jingoism that followed 9/11, the “South Park” creators make leftists from Hollywood (including Alec Baldwin [who played Jim Webb in “SNL’s” mock debate last night], Matt Damon, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon) and, of course, left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore, into villains, apparently only or primarily for the purpose of not being accused of taking a political side, of being an equal-opportunity offender.*

But, again, not all political sides are equal. Sarah Palin, for instance, is not the equivalent of even Billary Clinton, and Billary Clinton, while she calls herself a “Democrat” and even “a progressive” (“a progressive who likes to get things done”!), is not the equivalent of Bernie Sanders.

In a nation whose denizens can barely analyze political matters and politicians as it is (if they haven’t already given up the effort entirely for sports, celebrity gossip, consumerism and/or other forms of entertainment and/or distraction) — and who consequently, again, thus routinely actually vote against their own best interests (when/if they vote at all) — this false-equivalence-as-comedy shit just isn’t very fucking funny.

*It’s perfectly OK to take down limousine liberals, who by definition don’t walk their own talk, but that doesn’t seem to have been the “South Park” creators’ main intent with “Team America.”

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Assorted shit

Why the dick won’t shut the fuck up

In this photo released by ABC former Vice President Dick Cheney ...

Associated Press photo

Gas bag Dick Cheney appears on a political talk show aired this morning in order to (what else?) bash the Obama administration. The Associated Press correctly although too diplomatically deems Cheney’s “public criticism on a successor administration” as “unusual.”

Gay conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan and I agree on one thing (besides our attraction to members of our own sex): Former Vice President Dick Cheney is still talking, more than a year after he left office, because he’s afraid that he might, just might, actually be prosecuted for his war crimes one day.

Politico quotes Sullivan as having stated in an e-mail:

“Cheney’s unprecedentedly aggressive approach … reflects his own knowledge that he has committed war crimes of a very grave sort, war crimes that at some point could lead to prosecution and will undoubtedly lead to historical infamy.”

“If that becomes the prevailing narrative — because it is true — he will go down in history as a man who betrayed the very core principles of Western civilization out of panic and then covered it up,” Sullivan continued. “So he has to change the subject and launch this kind of PR campaign to throw everyone off the scent….

“Cheney is cornered. He knows justice is coming, and he knows that one day the full truth will come out and there will be no hiding. Until then, he will fight and fight and break every taboo that respect for the Constitution and for civil discourse requires.”

Sullivan has been one of the leading voices criticizing the news media — and Politico specifically — for giving Cheney a platform for his rhetorical blasts in interviews without challenging his premises and also forcing him to answer for his own alleged misdeeds in office….

Cheney isn’t fooling anyone, though, isn’t throwing anyone off of his stench. And by keeping himself in the limelight, he is drawing more attention to himself and to his treasonous war crimes. Stupid.

I mean, George W. Bush, a dumbfuck extraordinaire, is smart enough to keep a low profile, and why is Dick Fucking Cheney criticizing the Obama administration when Al Gore, President Bill Clinton’s veep, didn’t routinely criticize the BushCheneyCorp administration, even though there was plenty to criticize?

(I can recall that Gore only made one fiery speech critical of the unelected Bush regime, in the wake of the breaking of the Abu Ghraib House of Horrors scandal to the entire world community. That speech was quite appropriate, given that it had turned out that Americans had treated Iraqi prisoners, most of them innocent of any crime, in a Nazi-like fashion. I don’t believe that during the eight long nightmarish years between January 2001 and January 2009 Gore made more than one or two prominent speeches in which his main topic was criticism of the BushCheneyCorp, yet here is Cheney, who can’t keep himself off of the Sunday morning political shows.)

Anyway, it isn’t like it was Sullivan who made me see the light of the truth. It was in a post titled “Die, Dick, Die!” in October that I wrote:

Cheney, with his latest act his rant against the Obama administration’s handling of Afghanistan (where he would have proclaimed “mission accomplished” already), is trying to salvage his “legacy” by acting as though he really cares about national security instead of war profiteering (he did deliver his war-profiteering corporation Halliburton the Vietraq War, after all), the pundits are chattering, but my best guess is that Cheney is terrified that he might actually be charged as the war criminal that he is and that he therefore is trying to drum up public opinion to be sympathetic toward his sorry, felonious, treasonous ass should justice actually ever be done and he actually be held accountable for the thousands upon thousands of unnecessary deaths of our men and women in uniform and of innocent Iraqi civilians (and many, many other innocent civilians throughout the Middle East).

I also have to wonder if perhaps Tricky Dick still believes that he is in power; maybe that faulty, Grinch-like, two-sizes-too-small heart of his isn’t supplying his brain with enough oxygen. Politico quotes Cheney as having said, when asked how George W. Bush feels about his outspokenness, “I’m the vice president now — ex-vice president. I have the great freedom and luxury of speaking out, saying what I want to say, what I believe. And I have not been discouraged from doing so.” 

“I’m the vice president now”? Sounds like a Freudian slip to me.

Fuck the filibuster!

Rachel Maddow has called — I think — for doing away with the filibuster.* While she focuses on how boring (but how important) the concept of the filibuster is, and calls for renaming the filibuster, what she seems to be aiming at is doing away with the filibuster altogether.

Maddow notes that the filibuster used to require two-thirds, or 67 votes, of the U.S. Senate, to be overcome. The filibuster threshold now stands at 60 votes.

While I believe that a simple majority is good enough in a democracy — we don’t require a presidential candidate to get 60 percent of the vote — I could compromise and put the filibuster at 55 votes. That is one-half of the Senate plus one-tenth of one-half of the Senate. That seems fair enough to me.

(And indeed, the infamous progressive Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida has called for a 55-vote filibuster threshold, and you can sign his petition for this more reasonable filibuster threshold at StopSenateStalling.com.)

As Maddow and Grayson note, the filibuster is not contained anywhere in the U.S. Constitution, but is only a Senate rule. Wikipedia notes that Senate rules can be changed by a simple majority vote of the Senate — and that this is what the Repugnicans, during the reign of the unelected Bush regime, threatened to do with their “nuclear option,” to do away with the filibuster, an option that the Democrats thus far have been too pussy to take.

I say: Nuke the motherfuckers. Now. 

The 60-vote filibuster is preventing any progress from being made and has hamstrung the U.S. government.

The 60-vote filibuster reminds me of how the two-thirds vote requirement for the California Legislature to pass the state’s budget has only hamstrung rather than helped my home state’s budget process.

Unfortunately, that ridiculous requirement for a super-majority is contained in the state’s Constitution, and the easiest way to change that would be to amend the state’s Constitution at the ballot box. Many if not most proponents of changing the state’s two-thirds-vote budget-bill requirement are OK with making it a 55-percent-vote requirement instead. I’m OK with that.

Dick Cheney and I actually agree on something!

An Associated Press article on how long it might take the U.S. military to finally stop discriminating against non-heterosexuals reports:

The goal, according to senior defense and military officials, is to avoid the backlash that could result from imposing change too fast. While officials expect resistance from only a minority of service members and believe that it could be contained with discipline, officials fear isolated incidents of violence could erupt as a means of protest.

What does it say of the quality of the individuals in our military that “violence could erupt as a means of protest” against granting equal human and civil rights to everyone in the military?

Actually, though, I don’t think that really is the stupid white men’s concern. I suspect that once again, the stupid old white men are just using our troops as political human shields for themselves. (The members of the unelected Bush regime did that routinely when they tried to morph any valid criticisms of their launching and their handling of their Vietraq War into attacks on our troops.)

It’s the stupid old white men who are far more afraid of the change than are the young people in the military.

Even Dick Cheney, whose daughter is a dyke, has my back on this one. Reports the AP:

According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, three-quarters of Americans say that they support openly gay people serving in the military. The 75 percent figure is far above the 44 percent of Americans who said so in May 1993.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney, defense secretary in the first Bush administration, said [today] he supports a review of the [“don’t ask, don’t tell”] policy.

“When the chiefs come forward and say we think we can do it, it strikes me it’s time to reconsider the policy,” he said. “I’m reluctant to second-guess the military in this regard.”

Cheney, who has an openly gay daughter, said he thinks society has moved on from staunch opposition to gays serving in the military.

“It’s partly a generational question,” he told ABC’s “This Week,” adding that “things have changed significantly” since the [“DADT”] policy took effect.

“Partly” a generational question? No, it’s almost wholly a generational question.

OK, so I guess that I still have plenty of disagreement with the dick…

Move over, Margaret!

Speaking of dykes, Wanda Sykes is my new favorite comedian.

I recently bought the DVD of her HBO stand-up special “I’ma Be Me,” which was recorded in Washington, D.C., in August, and my boyfriend and I have watched it twice.

Wanda rocks.

Margaret Cho, a self-proclaimed fag hag, has been the default gay guy’s comedian for some years now, and I still love ya, Margaret, but Wanda is funnier and fresher than you are.

Wanda’s political sensibilities seem to be much sharper than those of Margaret, who, if her autobiographical claims about herself are accurate, apparently spent a lot of years partying before she woke up to the political scene circa 2003 or 2004.

And while Margaret’s material is stale, Wanda’s is new to me.

Wanda comes to her comedy from the perspective of being a black lesbian. (She came out in November 2008, after the odious Prop H8 passed here in California.)

In her HBO stand-up special Wanda doesn’t talk too much about lesbianism — her comedy is much less sexually graphic and less scatological than is Margaret’s — but her take on what it’s like to be black in white America is hilarious and even eye-opening.

“White people are looking at you!” she intones throughout her routine, and while it’s comedy, it rings true. Her bit about finally being able to buy a whole watermelon at the supermarket — now that Barack Obama is president — is hilarious and probably only she could get away with something like that.

Wanda’s riff on pirates (yes, pirates — a reference to when the Somali pirates were in the news) also is ROLF-level good, and the way that she brings back certain themes throughout her routine is masterfully funny.  

Wanda’s 15-minute performance at the 2009 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner probably gave her the most national exposure that she’s ever had, but, as she says right off in “I’ma Be Me,” she had to hold back at the correspondents’ dinner.

She’s much better when she’s off-leash, so to speak, as she is in “I’ma Be Me.”

The only criticism that I have of “I’ma Be Me” is that Wanda uses at least two or three of the jokes that she already used at the correspondents’ dinner. She’s allowed to rehash her own material, of course, but you would think that she would have realized that many if not most of us had already heard those jokes.

Wanda’s facial expressions and her willingness to move around on stage liberally add entertainment value to her already-funny material, and she’s so adorable that even when she chuckles at her own jokes it’s quite forgivable.

You owe it to yourself to watch “I’ma Be Me,” whether it’s still showing periodically on HBO or whether you buy the DVD (such as via amazon.com).

Out to pasture for the McCainosaurus?

There is talk that Repugnican John McCainosaurus might lose the Repugnican primary to his even wingnuttier challenger, J.D. Hayworth, ending McCainosaurus’ stint in the U.S. Senate, which began in 1987.

Reports The Associated Press:

Phoenix – Defeated just two years ago as the Republican presidential candidate and with his bonafides as a true conservative again being challenged, John McCain finds himself in a struggle to get even his party’s nomination for another term in the Senate.

Many conservatives and “tea party” activists are lining up behind Republican challenger and former [right-wing] talk radio host J.D. Hayworth, reflecting a rising tide of voter frustration with incumbent politicians. Only 40 percent of Arizonans have a favorable view of McCain’s job performance.

Faced with his toughest re-election battle ever, McCain has moved to the right on several hot-button issues, like gays in the military and climate change, and has built a campaign war chest of more than $5 million. Former running mate Sarah Palin and newly elected Republican Sen. Scott Brown, both popular with conservatives, are pitching in.

Hayworth, who will officially launch his campaign [tomorrow], began using his talk show on conservative radio station KFYI to drum up opposition to McCain.

“You have a consistent conservative challenger and an incumbent who calls himself a maverick but in fact is a moderate,” Hayworth said, outlining what he views as the central choice for conservative GOP primary voters in August.

McCain is launching his own statewide tour, complete with visits next month from Palin and Brown, who already has recorded calls asking Republicans to support McCain.

The four-term senator and his allies also are taking aim at Hayworth. In December, they filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission arguing that the talk show host was a de facto candidate and his radio station was providing a corporate gift by allowing him to campaign on the air. And they’re attacking Hayworth’s 12-year record as a [U.S. representative] representing the eastern suburbs of Phoenix….

Democrat Harry Mitchell defeated Hayworth four years ago, winning the GOP-dominated [U.S. House] district amid a rough national climate for Republicans and questions about Hayworth’s dealings with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Hayworth ran a conservative campaign emphasizing his opposition to illegal immigration, but he was dogged by a reputation for being an angry and combative partisan, highlighted by an editorial in the state’s largest newspaper recommending “Mitchell over the bully.”

Hayworth said he decided to quit the [right-wing radio talk] show and run for [the U.S. Senate] in late January after holding “town-hall meetings five days a week” with his conservative listeners.

They are angry, Hayworth says, about McCain’s history of teaming with Democrats on key issues. In the past decade McCain has worked with Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin on campaign finance reform and with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts on an immigration bill that would have created a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants….

A poll last month by the Phoenix-based Behavior Research Center found [McCain’s] lowest approval rating since January 1994, when McCain was in the midst of the “Keating Five” scandal in which he and four other U.S. senators were accused of trying to intimidate regulators on behalf of a real-estate developer later convicted of fraud.

McCain’s once-powerful support from independents is particularly lacking; just 38 percent approved of his performance…. Arizona allows independents to vote in primaries. They could make the difference in a state where 30 percent of the electorate doesn’t belong to a political party….

While I suspect that the McCainosaurus will beat Hayworth, who I remember only as a fugly, goofy-looking

(  )

local television sportscaster when I lived in Phoenix more than a decade ago, it would be hilarious if the McCainosaurus were to lose the Repugnican primary to a tea-baggin’, mouth-breathing, Sarah Palin-Quayle-like stupid white guy whose main platform, like that of Repugnican former U.S. Rep. Tom “Bring Back the Literacy Tests!” Tancredo, is to beat up, like the ignorant bully that he is, on powerless, brown-skinned, “illegal” immigrants, who, as Wanda Sykes correctly points out in “I’ma Be Me,” aren’t criminals, but who just want to make a better life for themselves. (I would tell her joke, but I don’t want to spoil it for you; you’ll just have to watch “I’ma Be Me.”)

*Wikipedia’s entry “filibuster” states:

A filibuster, or “speaking or talking out a bill,” is a form of obstruction in a legislature or other decision-making body whereby one attempts to delay or entirely prevent a vote on a proposal by extending a debate on that proposal. A popular saying is “filibuster it to death!”

The term “filibuster” was first used in 1851. It was derived from the Spanish [word] “filibustero,” meaning “pirate” or “freebooter.” … 

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