Samantha Bee's Feckless Apology Deserves a 'C'

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As a comedy writer and a liberal, I feel badly that I am not feeling all warm and fuzzy after Samantha’s Bee on-air apology for calling Ivanka Trump a “feckless cunt.” Devoid of humility, her mea culpa came across as superficial and perfunctory. But what bothered me even more was the decidedly mixed message that she expressed. 

In one breath, Samantha Bee acknowledged that she has used the word “cunt” on her show many times, “hoping to reclaim it.” However, this time she used it “as an insult.”  This logic suggests that she thinks she erred not in using the word, but in using it in the manner in which she did. 

However, in the next breath she said, “The problem is that many women have heard that word at the worst moments of their lives. A lot of them don’t want that word reclaimed. They want it gone. And I don’t blame them.”

That is exactly how many African Americans feel about the word “nigger.” Yet, a significant segment of the black community has reclaimed the offending word and made it their own. 

So, does Samantha Bee still want to reclaim the word “cunt,” or does she now think that was a bad idea? We don't know, because she didn’t bother to address the very issue that she raised. 

Note to Samantha Bee: Please figure this out for yourself. If you want to reclaim the word “cunt,” which is something I would totally support (which may not matter to you since I’m a man), you will never succeed at that by using the word as a slur to insult women. If you are serious about reclaiming the word, then you will have to use it fearlessly and without apology, just as actress Sally Field did recently when she tweeted this: 

I like Samantha Bee a lot, but she is flat wrong to call Ivanka a cunt. Cunts are powerful, beautiful, nurturing and honest.   

Whether Samantha Bee has it in her to use the word “cunt” publicly, as Sally Field did, remains to be seen, but I sincerely hope that she does, lest she be seen by some as, well, feckless.

And that brings me to my next problem with Samantha Bee’s apology: Pulling a page out of the Trumpian playbook, she blamed the media for their response to what she said: 

“I should’ve known that a potty mouth insult would be inherently more interesting to them (the press) than juvenile immigration policy.” 

Right, so it’s the media’s fault for ignoring Samantha Bee’s indefensible (by her own admission) use of the word “cunt” and not engaging her in an in-depth discussion on American immigration policy. She did not have the humility to say, “I messed up totally and gave the media good reason to focus on my poor choice of words rather than the important issue that I so want to discuss.”  

I agree with Jon Stewart, who remains the most influential and astute political comedian of his generation, that conservative outrage over Samantha Bee is “a game” that should not be taken seriously. “They don’t give a shit about the word ‘cunt.’ Trump says that instead of ‘please,’ I’m guessing,” he recently said.  As usual, John Stewart is spot on, however just as John Oliver and Bill Maher did on their respective shows, he gave his friend Samantha Bee a comedy mulligan. 

Sorry, but with all due respect, I do not.

Reflections on the (Probably) Soon to be Unemployed Samantha Bee

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As someone who has spent his entire life in humor, both as a comedian and writer, I am utterly flummoxed as to why Samantha Bee would call Ivanka Trump a “cunt,” feckless or otherwise, on her TBS television show. 

Full disclosure: I am a fan of Samantha Bee’s and was employed as a comedy writer and editor for 33 years at MAD Magazine, which is owned by TimeWarner, which is also the parent company of TBS.   

Earlier in the week, Roseanne Barr blamed Ambien for her racist tweet stating that Valerie Jarret, a black former advisor to President Obama, was the product of the Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes.  She was promptly fired and apologized for making “a bad joke.” Not since Michael Richards destroyed his career with his infamous “nigger” rant (at the Comedy Store in 2006) has a comedian gotten into so much trouble for material that played as flat-out racist. But at least Roseanne thought her tweet was “a joke.”

Samantha Bee offered no such defense in her mea culpa. She apologized for “using an expletive” to describe the President’s daughter and acknowledged that she had “crossed a line.”  But she did not offer her own variation of the traditional “sorry, the joke didn’t work” excuse. Perhaps that’s because upon further review, she realized that her rant was totally devoid of humor: 

"After decades of ignoring the issue, Americans are finally paying attention. Well, most of us. Ivanka Trump, who works at the White House, chose to post the second most oblivious post we’ve seen this week.You know, Ivanka, that’s a beautiful photo of you and your child, but let me just say, one mother to another: Do something about your dad’s immigration practices, you feckless cunt."  

Despite the inexplicably big laugh that followed, there’s not a joke or satiric remark in the script. Minus wit or cleverness, it’s just angry full frontal commentary, and unlike Roseanne’s Twitter diarrhea, it was scripted in advance and loaded into a teleprompter.  

The level of comedy cluelessness at play here is truly astonishing. How could anyone on Samantha Bee's creative team think the best way for her to call attention to the horrors of separating mothers from their children at the border was to call the President's daughter a "cunt" on national television? By doing that, all she did was deflect attention from the very issue that she wants to discuss.    

Unlike the word “nigger,” which has found its way to common usage for a significant number of black Americans, the word “cunt” remains mostly forbidden, even among women. Larry Wilmore (at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2016) jokingly and affectionately addressed President Obama as “my nigga.” However, a female comedian could not address Michele Obama as “my cunt.” That doesn’t mean the word “cunt” is totally off-limits for a comedian, female or male. No word is off-limits! As the master, George Carlin, taught us, "it’s about context.”  So, if a comedian is going to use a word like “cunt” or “nigger,” or any other slur or expletive you can think of, the word must be expertly played. (No one “played” words better than Carlin.) 

Michele Wolf, even after she was criticized by those who invited her, did not apologize for her controversial material at the recent White House Correspondents’ Dinner. To her credit, she stood by her comic point of view, because she instinctually understood that speaking truth to power through humor is the highest calling of a satirist. But that’s not what Samantha Bee did. She lost her comedy way – as once did Don Imus, Gilbert Gottfried, Kathy Griffin and Bill Maher, to name the ones that come to mind now – and when that happens on a grand scale there is a price to be paid, though the price isn't always exactly the same. 

As of this writing, Samantha Bee has not yet been fired, but I don’t see how she keeps her job. The longer TimeWarner puts off what I believe is the inevitable decision, the more pressure the corporation will be under to release her. Autotrader and State Farm have already announced they are suspending their advertising and other companies will surely follow suit. Please note: the main and perhaps only reason that Bill Maker survived his casual “house nigger” comment is because his show is on advertiser-free HBO, which by the way, is also owned by TimeWarner. 

That liberals have remained mostly quiet about this is as unfortunate as it is predictable, and is reflective of blind tribalism that pervades our culture, seemingly more than ever. Imagine, for a moment, if Samantha Bee had referred to Sasha or Malia Obama as “cunts.”  

And so, it is precisely because I am a humorist and a liberal, that I feel a responsibility to call out Samantha Bee. I agree with her point of view far more often than not and I enjoy her comedy. That said, by her own admission, she blew this one big time. More importantly, she would probably benefit from taking a break, if for no other reason than to search for a new head writer.

Sometimes to Take a Stand, One Must Take a Knee

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With their unilateral decree last week that NFL players must now stand during the national anthem, or be banished to the locker room, the white owners of the NFL have caved to the hateful rantings of a white supremacist President. 

Remember, it was last September, just a few weeks into the dangerously long 16-game football season, that Trump launched a vicious and unhinged attack on the players engaged in the anthem protests: "Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” 

Yes, the President who previously claimed, “I love the First Amendment; nobody loves it better than me,” is an advocate of firing athletes who engage in legal social protest. 

League Commissioner Roger Goodell, who desperately wants us to believe that he and the team owners are uber-patriots, was quick to criticize Trump's comment as “divisive.” However, he also pompously said, “The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture.”  

Say what? Since when do we look to league sports to “create a sense of unity”? Team sports, by their very nature, naturally create bitter tribal divisions, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Cowboys fans and Packers fans aren’t supposed to get along.  But I digress. 

Roger Goodell’s job is to be a compliant mouthpiece for the NFL’s mega-rich white team owners, who settled on the new anthem policy without any input from its players, approximately 70% of whom are African American.  

“We want people to be respectful of the national anthem,” said Goodell, who runs a league that was paid $700,000 to stage “military tributes” during games, still has a team called “the Redskins,” whose cheerleaders were required to escort sponsors and pose topless at a nightclub, and has failed to adequately address its epidemic of concussions. Yet Goodell’s primary mission now is to soothe the fears of his beer, fast food, and erectile dysfunction advertisers, a difficult task when the average viewership for a regular season game dropped 10% last season to 14.9 million people, down from 16.5 million people the previous year. 

By the way, in recognition of his exceedingly tough job, NFL owners awarded Goodell a five-year deal in which he can earn up to $200 million, though they held the line by refusing to grant him use of the private jet he was bargaining for.  But I digress again. 

The NFL owners do not care about the free speech rights of its players, especially its African American players. They just want the protests to go away.  So, in their shallow minds, declaring a "respect the anthem” policy was an easy way to achieve that end. But the move has already backfired, because given the context in which it was made, the policy itself is racist in that it solely squelches the speech of black athletes.

Is the policy legal?  While that remains to be seen, it just might be. The NFL is a private business, and since the rule is part of its game operations manual, it is not subject to collective bargaining. But whether the policy is determined to be legal or not, the NFL has created yet another massive public relations nightmare for itself. The owners have capitulated to a racist President, whose latest chilling commentary on the subject is, “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or shouldn’t be playing. You shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.” 

So, it is up to the players now. In a show of solidarity, they could all decide to stay in the locker room, though it would be much more effective if they all took a knee in public while the anthem droned on. There is more to protest now than the social injustice against blacks that spurred Colin Kaperenick to action. To take a stand against Trump, the time has come for all of us to take a knee. 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott: The Enabler

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Texas Governor Greg Abbott is an enabler of mass shooters. Of course, that is exactly what we would expect the governor of the regressive cowboy state to be, a mouthpiece for the NRA who labels anyone who dares suggest even the most flaccid gun control measure a threat to freedom. Please note: In Texas, as in a lot of other states in this fractured nation, "freedom" means the freedom to assemble a military grade arsenal and/or walk around pretending that you're a sheriff. 

In the old westerns, only an idiot or a woman would be seen in a saloon without a gun. The booze flowed freely as tough guys played poker and smoked cigarettes. What could possibly go wrong? Fist fights turned into gun fights. "I don't want any trouble here tonight," the bartender would say, usually a scene or two before all his whiskey glasses were shot up and his brains were blown out.  

To Greg Abbott the entire world is a saloon, which is exactly why he defeated his Democratic opponent, Wendy Davis, by over 20 percentage points in the most recent Texas gubernatorial election. The majority of Texas voters think they live in a saloon and, in fact, they kind of do. Over 3,500 gun-related deaths take place in Texas every year. How's that for freedom? Over a third of Texans, about 10 million people, own guns. The average gun owner in America owns eight guns, which means there are likely 80 millions guns circulating in Texas. I'll ask again: What can go wrong? 

Who wouldn't wanted to be armed in Texas? Greg Abbott has proclaimed, "I will sign any gun rights bill that reaches my desk." In his recent speech to the NRA, he boasted about the bill he signed allowing guns to be carried in holsters, ya know, just like a real cowboy!  He waxed poetic about the bill he signed allowing concealed firearms to be carried on colleges campuses. He called attention to his tireless work to assist other states in expanding their gun rights. 

It makes perfect sense then that Greg Abbott is leading a statewide discussion about protecting Texas children from mass shootings. Who better to lead such an important conversation than a hack with an "A" rating from the NRA, who once tweeted a photo of himself at a shooting range in celebration of his signing a law that lowered the state's license-to-carry fee?

Greg Abbott, who has built his entire political persona as a gun rights whore, now says he wants to "step up" to stop school shootings. He wants to hear from students, teachers, concerned citizens, and "those who hold the second amendment in high esteem," by which he means Texans who blame mass shootings on video games, mental illness, removing God from the public square, having too many doors in schools (the harebrained theory of his Lieutenant Governor, Dan Patrick), or anything else, as long as there is absolutely no mention of gun control. 

In America, it always comes back to the second amendment. It is that, more than anything else, that now makes us exceptional among modern nations in the ugliest and most horrifying of ways. More specifically, it is the ultra-conservative interpretation of the second amendment as decided by the Supreme Court in the Heller case that has led us to this current state of terror. America's sick gun culture now has federal law on its side. 

Greg Abbott's meaningless response to the mass shooting was to declare a statewide moment of silence. While his policies continue to enable mass shooters, he never apologies or plays defense. In his shallow mind, Greg Abbott is the one under assault, not traumatized teenagers. It is understandable then that his top priority is to protect himself from the liberals who want to take his precious guns away, something that could happen only in his paranoid daydreams. 

Reality check: No one is coming for Greg Abbott's guns, and if anyone actually did, he would just start shooting at them. 

Reflecting on Mass Murder and the “Most Extraordinary Hats” at the Royal Wedding

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Less than 24 hours after another mass murder at an American high school that left ten dead, the headline at CNN.com proclaimed, “Here comes the bride.” I can watch videos of the Beckhams, the Clooneys, and even Oprah arriving at the festivities, not to mention a live feed of Meghan Markle herself (wow!) on the way to the chapel. Finally, there is some good news to celebrate, even if it isn’t happening here.

What America needs is a royal family of its own to serve up some high quality regal distractions. But alas, we’re stuck with more news of mass murder beyond our capacity to synthesize. And when the story disappears from the news cycle, it’s back to non-stop Trump.

Two thirds of Americans have gone numb, are in total denial, not paying attention, still suffering from presidential election PTSD, or addicted to opioids. The remaining third have somehow come to the conclusion that the country is “on the right track.” 

By the way, since I started writing this, the CNN headline has changed to, ”The Big Moment.” It is indeed! Two people most of us either have never heard of until a few days ago, or just don’t care about, are exchanging wedding vows. Also, CNN has just posted footage of Meghan “walking herself down the aisle.” Note to CNN: She’s not “walking herself,” she's just walking.” And while I have not seen it yet, I’ll bet that she looks smashing!  

A much smaller CNN headline reads “Muqtada al-Sadr coalition wins Iraq election.” Is that a good thing? Sorry, I’m not up on this story. I don’t know about anything happening in the world that isn’t related to Trump, except of course that Meghan and what’s-his-name will now be known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Pretty damn impressive! By the way, in case you didn’t know or forgot, Muqtada al-Sadr is an anti-American populist, so no, the victory of his political coalition is not a good thing, though I will admit that if I lived in Iraq, I might be an anti-American populist myself. A lot of us would. 

Hey, CNN now reports that the happy couple was just married! Yippie! I know that Trump wasn’t invited, though I wonder if Robert Mueller was. He's so busy with his investigation,  he probably couldn’t have made it anyway. In any case, I am certainly grateful that CNN is not bothering me with cliched obituaries of the murdered students and encouraging me instead to focus my attention on the "newly revealed details of the wedding venue, cake and reception." 

Oh, and here’s another really compelling and important headline that is breaking just now on CNN: “The most extraordinary hats at the royal wedding.” 

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As I write this, the morning following the school shooting at Santa Fe High School, the headline story at the websites for Fox News, MSNBC, NPR, Slate, Google News, Yahoo News, the Huffington Post and USA Today all joyously shout about the exceedingly exquisite royal wedding. Finally, we have found a solution, not to gun violence, but to those pesky feelings of upset and sorrow that typically follow a mass shooting. 

I would write more but I have to stop now to look at footage of the happy couple’s first kiss. 

We All Live In Deadwood Now

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In the aftermath of horrific mass shooting after horrific mass shooting – elementary, high school or college students dead, church-goers dead, nightclub patrons dead, policemen dead – the same depressing news cycle plays out.

We are subjected to interviews with friends and family members of the victims and killer(s), harrowing eye-witness accounts of the mayhem, heartbreaking expressions of grief, canned statements from politicians, words of condolence from clergy, talk of justice, healing and resilience, condemnation of anyone who “politicizes” the issue, and, finally, the resurfacing of our bitter national gun-control debate that changes nothing and fills everyone who wants the violence to end with despair.

We are stuck in a nightmarish Groundhog’s Day scenario. Americans are dying on the street every day as gun sales skyrocket. The Congressional Research Service, whatever that is, estimates that there are 300 million guns in America. Those are the guns that can be accounted for. There are unquestionably many more guns than that in circulation. America has more guns now than people and the very word “gun” is part of the problem because it is a misnomer. A mere “gun”– think Wyatt Earp – doesn’t qualify as a slingshot in a country with a citizenry arming itself with assault rifles. And what exactly is an “assault rife”? We can’t even agree on that.

Who and what is responsible for this state of utter madness? There is certainly plenty of blame to go around: the NRA, Congress, the Supreme Court, the media, Hollywood, our primitive violent nature, and the Second Amendment itself, which like the Third Amendment (which forbids the government from housing soldiers in private homes) made good sense in 1791 and no sense in the 21st Century.

I am thinking of what President-elect Ronald Reagan said in 1980, with a stone-faced Cardinal Terrance Cook by his side, when he was asked about the assassination of John Lennon: “What can anyone say? It’s a great tragedy and it’s just other evidence of what we have to try and stop happening in this world.”

The reporter then asked, “Would you stop that with handgun legislation?”

Reagan answered: “I have never believed that. I believe in the kind of handgun legislation we have in California. If someone commits a crime and carries a gun when he’s doing it, it adds five to fifteen years to the prison sentence.”

It wasn’t long before Reagan himself was shot with a Röhm RG-14. Six shots were fired in 1.7 seconds. Had Reagan’s would-be assassin used an AR-15 or similar weapon, the current favorite of today’s terrorists and mass shooters, he would have been massacred beyond recognition. Instead, he survived and to his credit went on to support the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act and the Assault Weapons Ban, which has since expired leading us to where we find ourselves today. And where exactly is that?

We all live in Deadwood now, a kind of futuristic Deadwood in which seemingly everyone has a gun and a smart-phone to record gun violence. I’ll bet it’s just a matter of time before we can download a gun app for our smart-phones and start firing away. Let’s face it, in this environment what reasonable person wouldn’t want a gun? Bill Maher owns a gun. Michael Moore owns a gun. President Obama posed shooting a hunting rifle.

I myself have never held a real gun in my hand, though when I was a kid I did have a squirt gun, which I remember well. It had a nifty manual squeeze trigger and what I considered an ample 10-ounce fluid chamber. I loved shooting at the blouses of girls I had crushes on and making wet marks on them. But these days no self-respecting kid would be seen with such a harmless toy. Squirt guns have been replaced with “super soakers,” “double-drench blasters” and “water cannons” equipped with multi-quart chambers that can saturate a girl, and her teacher too, in mere seconds from 50+ feet away. Okay, I’ll admit, that does sound like fun. The thought of getting the girl of my dreams all wet is a real turn on.

So, I imagine the thrill of holding a loaded gun that can do real and lasting damage is a real turn on too, all the more so because we have fetishized guns, fetishized violence actually. Whether we kill or not, what an exhilarating power trip it is to have the power to kill in our hands.

Let’s not forget, of course, that guns don’t kill people. Also, forks don’t eat food, but they sure do make eating a lot easier. Imagine if there was an assault-fork which allowed the average-Joe to eat 18 seven-course dinners in 51 seconds. You think that might have an undesirable impact the national obesity rate?

The sobering reality is that we have travelled a very long way down a very dark road. Gun control laws won’t stop gun violence any more the speeding laws stop speeding. But speeding laws do reduce speed and keep us marginally safer. In this dangerous country with its sick gun culture, “marginally safer” is the best we can hope for.

When a Lying Lawyer Lies for a Pathologically Lying President

 A lying lawyer, incredulous at his own lies. 

A lying lawyer, incredulous at his own lies. 

When a lying lawyer for a pathologically lying President, with a lying Press Secretary, spews lies, it can be very challenging for the lying lawyer to get his lies straight. 

For example, if the lies the lying lawyer spews are different from the lies the lying press secretary spews, it may cause concern, albeit briefly, that one of them may not be spewing lies. To avoid this, the lying lawyer must carefully coordinate his lies with the lying press secretary in order to develop consistency in lying. However, the task is considerably more daunting than that. 

In these days, it is hardly enough for a lying lawyer to merely coordinate his lies with a lying Press Secretary. A lying lawyer must make certain that he is spewing the lies that the pathologically lying President wants him to spew. Otherwise, the pathologically lying President will soon need to spew lies about the lies that his lying lawyer and lying press secretary spewed. This inevitably leads to the lying lawyer and lying press secretary spewing lies about the lies they spewed about the pathologically lying President’s lies. 

The most important thing to understand about a pathologically lying President is that everything he says of consequence is a lie. 

He spews lies about what he did or did not do, and when he did or did not do it. 

He spews lies about what he did or did not know, and when he did or did not know it. 

He spews lies about what he did or did not say, and when he did or did not say it. 

He spews lies about what others did, knew or said, and when they did, knew or said it. 

He spews lies about his friends, family, cabinet members, judges, members of congress, leaders of other nations, newspapers, websites, journalists, comedians and athletes.  

He spews lies about his wealth, his intelligence, his health, his affairs, his history as a sexual predator, his payment of hush money to a porn star, and his colluding with the Russians. 

He spews lies about his margin of victory, how many people showed up at his inauguration, and how much cable news he watches. 

He spews lies abut the lies he spewed. And then he spews lies about the lies he spewed about the lies he spewed.  

The pathologically lying President spews lies indiscriminately, casually and incessantly, about people of all races, nationalities, genders and sexual orientation.  

More than anything, the pathologically lying President spews lies to himself about himself, consciously and unconsciously. His life itself is such an infinitely gigantic lie that he has absolutely no grounded relationship to the truth.  

Occasionally, the pathologically lying President is correct about something. For example, he might say, “Today is Tuesday,” and it might actually be Tuesday.” However, that is a random occurrence of absolutely no consequence, because the pathologically lying President never intends to tell the truth because he can’t. At his core, the pathologically lying President is psychologically wired to lie.  

This brings me back to the aforementioned lying lawyer and lying press secretary: 

As proficient as they are in spewing lies, the lying lawyer and lying press secretary remain at best novice students studying at the feet of the Master. Despite their sincere efforts to acheive an utter lack of credibility and personal integrity, when compared to the pathologically lying President, the lying lawyer and lying press secretary sometimes come across as straight-talking truth-tellers. Expect them to both be fired soon. 

 

 

 

 

Michele Wolf Speaks Truth to Power and Expresses no Remorse

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I am not sure how far back the tradition of the court jester performing before a King goes, but my guess is that the first comedian who ever “died” was probably executed by a monarch who didn’t think he was funny, or whose humor struck too close to the bone. The White House Correspondents Dinner has evolved (devolved?) into a modern-day version of that ancient ritual, with the modern comedian expected to be satirically sharp and outrageously irreverent without being offensive, or at least too offensive to, well, who exactly? The President? Those in power?  Liberals? Conservatives? The media itself?

Michele Wolf, formerly well-known on Comedy Central but now a national comedy star, did not show up at the White House Correspondents Dinner to make friends. She understands that the role of the satirist is not to make her audience feel comfortable. In fact, the great political stand-ups, from Dick Gregory to George Carlin to Bill Maher, have never been afraid to make their audiences squirm. That is because the truth frequently hurts and the best satire often reveals truth in disturbing ways. 

Michele Wolf on abortion:

Mike Pence is very anti-choice. He thinks abortion is murder, which, first of all, don’t knock it till you try it. And when you do try it, really knock it. You know, you gotta get that baby out of it. And yeah, sure, you can groan all you want, I know a lot of you are very anti-abortion, you know, unless it’s the one you got for your secret mistress. It’s fun how values can waiver. But good for you.

Good for who exactly? How about former GOP Congressman Tim Murphy, an outspoken anti-choice crusader who recently urged his mistress to have an abortion and was forced to resign in disgrace? Let the audience groan all it wants.  

Michele Wolf on Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful. Like she burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Like, maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies. 

Note to that most uptight of all liberals, Mika Brzezinski, who whined on MSNBC that Wolf's cutting remark was a comment on Huckabee's looks. It wasn't. She was commenting on Huckabee's continual spewing of lies for a continually lying President. Not that there’s anything wrong with a comedian making fun of how someone looks, though Wolf saved those barbs for Mitch McConnell, who she claimed wasn’t in attendance because he’s finally getting his neck circumcised,”and Chris Christie, of whom she said, “Republicans are easy to make fun of. You know, it’s like shooting fish in a Chris Christie.” Brzezinski, true to formexpressed not a word of outrage about either remark. Conservatives have no special claim to selective outrage.   

Wolf made jokes about Fox News and MSNBC, not to mention their two biggest personalities, Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow. However, she saved her most pointed barbs for CNN: “You guys love breaking news, and you did it, you broke it! Good work!” 

Donald Trump, a man who has laughed in public once since running for President – at a crass one-liner comparing Hillary Clinton to a dog -- called Wolf’s performance “filthy.” At times it was, and that is exactly what a filthy President deserves. Though try at she might, Wolf could not possibly be as vulgar as Trump, who degrades the Presidency with his falsehoods,  flippancy, and ugly rhetoric whenever he opens his mouth. 

Michele Wolf was given the opportunity to speak truth to power and she rose to the occasion like a comedy champ. Fearless, outspoken and relentless, she let no one off the hook and offered no apologies, even as she was pilloried in the press and accused of being filled with hate for daring to do her job. 

Actually, it is Wolf who deserves an apology from Margaret Talev, the spineless  President of the White House Correspondents Association, who wrote: “Last night’s program was meant to offer a unifying message about out common commitment to a vigorous and free press while honoring civility, great reporting and scholarship winners. Unfortunately, the entertainer’s monologue was not in the spirit of that mission.”

Really? I'm sure that mandate came as news to Wolf, as it would come to any humorist, that her role as a standup was to offer “a unifying message.” If that’s what the White House Correspondents want, next year, instead of a standup, I suggest they book a pastor. 

Did every joke work? Of course not. Every joke never works. But far more often than not, Wolf's shots either hit or landed close to the comedy bulls-eye. That is exactly why so many powerful people in Washington are still so upset.

Bravo Michele! You made us comedians and comedy writers proud. 

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Billy Graham Was Often Wrong

 Like most preachers, Billy Graham was frequently incorrect. 

Like most preachers, Billy Graham was frequently incorrect. 

Evangelist Billy Graham has died. He was widely loved and respected, but wrong about many things:

"You're born. You suffer. You die. Fortunately, there's a loophole."  

There is no loophole – unless God exists and He’s an accountant. And even if God exists, theologians are in widespread agreement that the odds of Him being an accountant are exceptionally slim.

“A real Christian is the one who can give his pet parrot to the town gossip.”

The Bible mentions antelopes, geckos, maggots, mole rats, serpents, turtle doves and vipers. Sorry, no parrots.

“I think Pat Roberston is a terrific fellow.”  

Pat Roberston proclaimed that feminism encourages women “to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." A “terrific person” wouldn’t say that – at least in public.

"Communism is a religion that is inspired, directed and motivated by the Devil himself who has declared war against Almighty God."

Communism is not a religion and the devil is not a communist: he's a libertarian. 

"Only the supernatural love of God through changed lives can solve problems that we face in the world."

Nope. In 2015, Stephen Hawking famously published a solution to “black hole information paradox.” He’s an avowed atheist.

Only those who want everything done for them are bored.”

Obviously, Reverend Graham never sat through Superman v Batman: Dawn of Justice.

“Our society strives to avoid any possibility of offending anyone – except God.”

It is a well-known fact that nothing offends God more than a preacher who claims to know what offends God.

“Without the resurrection, the cross is meaningless.”

That is not only untrue, but breathtakingly shallow. A cross is an archetypal symbol of deep significance. Nailing someone to it turns it into a crucifix, which for many is a major turn-off. 

“Everybody has a little Watergate in him."

These days everyone has a little Deflate-gate in them.

“Knowing we will be with Christ forever far outweighs our burdens today! Keep your eyes on eternity!”

That’s terrible advice! Keep your eyes directly on the path in front of you and watch out for precipitous dips. Eternity, whatever that is, will take care of itself without you having to manage it. Who has time for that anyway?  

 

In The Aftermath of Another School Shooting, Teenagers Are The Moral Voice of America

 Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stonemason Douglas High School, 

Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stonemason Douglas High School, 

So, maybe it will come down to the teenagers. Perhaps they are the only ones who have a fighting chance to break the NRA’s stranglehold on our society, just as it was only the teenagers of my generation who had a fighting chance to bring the Vietnam War to an end.

“War is not healthy for children and other living things,” went one of the popular slogans of my youth. My hippie friends may have been naïve, unemployed, and in desperate need of a shower, but they were not wrong about that, just as today’s teenagers are not wrong about the sickness at the core of America, our rampant gun culture enabled by one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in history.  

The Vietnam War was ugly beyond our imagination to conceive, immoral at its core, and utterly senseless. It was also something that adults didn’t care enough about to try to stop. It was up to us.

By the way, I use the word “us” loosely. I was seven when JFK was assassinated, nine when President Johnson received nearly unanimous consent from Congress to escalate the war, and 13 when Woodstock took place. But I was old enough to be aware of the looming threat that my government posed to my life.

I was in the final year (1972) of the draft lottery. By then, thanks to the anti-war movement, fewer of us were being ordered to serve. Still, I received a draft card, a symbol that my government might try to compel me to fly to Southeast Asia and risk my life for nothing.

Now, after yet another gruesome school shooting, we are finally hearing from the friends of the victims, the teenagers whose lives are at risk on the way to math class. Adults have failed at protecting them, so they are taking matters into their own hands.

The unspeakable grief of the survivors has turned to outrage and they are placing the blame exactly where it belongs, on the politicians who are owned by the NRA and speak sanctimoniously about our God-given right to own AR-15s.

Trump, a man with no moral core and incapable of empathy, is unelectable without the support of gun fetishists. When accepting the endorsement of the NRA, he called it “a fantastic honor,” before promising his adoring crowd, “We’re getting rid of gun free zones.” The president who proclaimed that he would put an end to “American carnage” has, in fact, enabled it. And he is hardly the only one.

Marco Rubio has received over three million dollars in payoffs from the NRA, but not to worry, he is “praying for all the victims.”  Is it too much to say that there is blood on his hands? I don’t think so. Rubio was a midwife of our sick gun culture, as was John McCain and Joni Ernst and Ted Cruz, and the list goes on and on. Yes, there is blood on their hands, just as there is blood on the hands of Supreme Court Justices Scalia, Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito, who decided that the Second Amendment, which is as arcane as the Third Amendment, guarantees the individual right of gun ownership. Their reckless judicial activism has led us to where we are now. And where is that exactly?

A candidate for congress in Kansas is giving away an AR-15 as a campaign stunt. Third-graders in Missouri are selling raffle tickets for an AR-15 as a fundraiser for their baseball team, and their coach thinks the surrounding controversy “has been blown out of proportion.”

The sobering truth that some liberals fail to recognize is that there is no magic bullet (no pun intended) solution to this problem. Even if sensible gun control legislation were enacted today, over five million Americans already own an AR-15.

So, in the face of these long odds, steps forward Emma Gonzalez, a senior and survivor of the atrocity at Marjory Stoneman High School. Recently, while addressing a gun control rally in Fort Lauderdale, she said, “We certainty do not understand why it should be harder to make plans with friends on weekends than to buy an automatic or semi-automatic weapon.”

A few days later, when asked by Carol Costello on CNN, “So, what do you say to the NRA?” she replied, “Disband. Dismantle. And don’t make an organization under a different name. And don’t you dare come back here.” She was wearing a t-shirt that said, “The Beatles” and I could not help but think that something of the best of what my generation stood for lives vibrantly in her. 

AR-15s are not healthy for children and other living things.