The First

I love Kathy Griffin and loathe Donald Trump. I like Rosie O’Donnell and am fed up with Rosanne Barr, who I would probably loathe if I didn’t believe she was in the grip of a severe mental health crisis.

Of course, I believe that Trump has severe mental health issues too and I still loathe him.

Maybe it’s because he occupies the office of what used to be the Leader of the Free World and can actually change the course of history, not to mention end the entire world as we know it.

All Roseanne can do is hate tweet, post ranting videos and be on a sitcom I wouldn’t watch.

This all bubbled up on Thursday night after seeing Kathy Griffin do a hilarious, dishy, touching and sometimes sad three-hour solo comedy show at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

The sad part wasn’t so much about the comic as it was about us and the cesspool of faux outraged, social media manipulated, human rights curtailing, conspiracy-based citizenry we have become.

I’m taking bids now

Many of us falsely believed that the social upheaval of the 1960s gave birth to a new time where we left McCarthyism behind and people could feel free to express their politics in any way they saw fit as long as they didn’t physically hurt anyone.

I, for one, can recall the late 1970s when, as a Jewish kid in grad school in Chicago, I heard the Nazis had chosen, of all places, to hold a big rally in the nearby heavily Jewish neighborhood of Skokie.

How could I be studying journalism in the U.S. and deny that these Hitler acolytes had the legal right to march right down the streets of that neighborhood? I couldn’t if I believed in freedom of speech, of religion, of the press and of peaceful assembly.

I mean, sure – I could will them to eat shit and die but I couldn’t actually poison it myself or let anyone else do it. I could show up in a counter demonstration where I sang Barbra Streisand songs or played the score of Fiddler on the Roof from my boom box but back in 1977 I’m not sure anyone would have gotten it.

sing it with me now: PEOPLE WHO NEED PEOPPPPLLLEEEE….

There was always the option of hurling rocks at them and starting a brawl but at 20 years old I was not ready to betray anything I believed in…quite yet.   And even if I could, I’d never be able to throw straight.   At that point I was having a hell of a time even being straight.

The above all refers to rights enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution, which reads as follows:

Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

In the last 40 years we have evolved on many issues.   Gay people have the right to be married; public schools are integrated, as are most private institutions. Women can work and get closer to equal pay (well, 80 cents on the dollar) and, as of this weekend anyway, they still have the right to choose.

Very win-win, right?

Not feeling super confident on all of these points, Chairy.

But what we are beginning to fail at miserably is holding up the very basic tenants of the first amendment.

We now have elected (sort of) a president who ran his campaign on, and is actively trying to, ban Muslims and any other number of non-whites from entering the country in the name of national security; defends the point of view of white nationalists and foreign dictators as good people and strong leaders; and attacks the mainstream, fact-based press daily by calling its multi-sourced, fully vetted stories fake news and its reporters very bad people.

This, of course, has nothing directly to do with the cost of health care, whether or not we’ll make more money at the end of the year or if we can even get employment next year.

Until it does.

I need a nap

When you strip us right down to the studs (Note: And these days, who’d NOT want to), the core attraction of America is our FIRST amendment. Theoretically everyone here has the same rights and can say whatever the hell they want under the law. Even if it doesn’t always work out perfectly, from the top on down we have always strived for that ideal. Or, at least, pretended to.

Now the president is proposing that football players get suspended for taking a knee during the National Anthem and fired if they do it more than once. This is a far more stringent punishment than any of the Nazis got who marched in Charlottesville last year and actually killed an innocent woman.

Which brings us back to Kathy Griffin.

Spilling the T

The job of comedians is to make us laugh by being — provocateurs. They share their lens of the world by telling stories and jokes, pushing boundaries in the ways they see fit. It is their very point of view, mixed with some truth telling, that makes them unique and, in essence, defines their talent.

Last year, in response to Trump’s bull-in-the-china shop approach to tearing down the norms of government and insulting anyone who disagreed with him in a shockingly offensive manner by using coded graphic words and actions (and, behind-the-scenes, pornographic ones), Kathy decided to use her comic chops in a photo shoot that would shock us all to attention as to just what this man was doing not only to the country, but to the world.

So she had someone buy a $12 rubber Trump mask, doused it all over with ketchup, held it up as if it was his severed head, and then took a picture…which she then posted on social media.

I, for one, thought it was a hilarious, outrageous and very necessary political statement/response to the times we were and still are living in. In fact, I still do. So, in solidarity, here it is again:

blood coming out of his.. wherever

But because Trump is technically our Electoral College POTUS and has a lot of power, as well as a large following (Note: Though not as large as Hillary’s) here is what she got in return for 6-12 months and counting:

1- Her name on the no-fly list

2- Her name on Interpol (an international criminal police organization)

3- Daily death threats

4- The cancellation of all of her bookings in the U.S., often because venues were afraid of bomb threats.

5- Daily character assassinations on Fox News and TMZ, both of whose owners are rabid Trump supporters.

6- Marginalization by all the major network powers-that-be, who were terrified of offending potential sponsors (nee corporate $$) and the new Trump power base.

7- An international P.R. campaign, spurred on by Fox, that convinced millions of conservative viewers that she had become an actual member of ISIS.

8 – A relentless social media Russian bot patrol attack.

9 – Investigation by the Secret Service, the FBI and others about her plotting to actually assassinate our Electoral College POTUS.

10 – A Trump supporting next-door neighbor who cursed at her and verbally harassed her so consistently that she eventually had to sell her house and move.

She explains it much more thoroughly and with a great deal more humor in her current LAUGH YOUR HEAD OFF (Note: Yeah, that’s right) tour.

In addition, there are also GREAT and unexpected stories about Ellen, Stevie Nicks, Kim Kardashian, Jim Carrey, Jamie Fox, Billy Bush and even Stormy Daniels if you’re as much of a star/media f-cker as I am.

We’re with you KG

But what stood out the most to me leaving the show is that political protest has swung back about a century here except for the use of technology and social media by the powers-that-be doing the oppressing.

When Roseanne sends out an offensive racist tweet comparing a non-white person not elected to office and no longer in the zeitgeist to an ape for no other reason than she felt like it, it is hard to see what she is satirizing other than herself with a bad one-liner.

Nevertheless, she is covered by the first amendment and is free to do so. Much in the same way the corporations that employ her are legally able to fire her.

The same applies to Kathy and those also choosing not to work with her.

The difference is – Roseanne was NOT put on the no-fly list, NOT listed on Interpol, NOT checked out by law enforcement officials for a crime, and NEVER victimized by Russian bots.

my version of hell at least

However, she WAS publicly supported and tweet cheered by THE ONE PERSON person who is still the de facto Leader of the Free World – our current sitting Electoral College POTUS. With all the power that HE is allowed.

Think about that the next time you sit down for dinner with Trump supporting friends and relatives or find yourself in an impromptu political discussion with those who say you’re being too sensitive, paranoid or reactionary.

But don’t laugh your head off quite yet. You will need it – and A LOT more – in the coming months. COMRADE.

Little Anthony & The Imperials – “Goin’ Out of My Head”

Advertisements

Time Bandits

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 12.09.25 PM

The terrific new film Spotlight tells the story of how an investigative unit of reporters from The Boston Globe spent more than a year researching, reporting and writing a story about the Massachusetts Catholic sex abuse scandal and the Catholic Church’s widespread cover-up of numerous pedophile priests. The real-life reporters won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for their work – which exposed many decades of the hidden sexual abuse of many hundreds of children by these men, who were protected by a massive labyrinth-like web of obfuscation by Church hierarchy that reached all the way to the upper echelons of the Vatican.

A year or more on one news story? Uh, yeah – sometimes it takes a long time to get things right.

#preach

#preach

I can personally testify to this as someone who just took a year to write a very complicated screenplay adaptation about another journalist who sacrificed his family and career in order to expose widespread corruption in a small midwestern town. The tireless work he did in the late 1970s failed to receive the massive attention of the Globe story but nevertheless it put some very bad people behind bars and shed light on a corrupt system of justice that slowly began to get just a little better as a result of his efforts. And yes, it also took him a little more than a year to do it.

All of this is not to say that one year is the writer/reporter’s magic number to turn out anything of value and significance. Rather what the demarcation means is that in order to tackle particularly challenging tasks of any kind —

IT. TAKES. TIME.

Not to mention lots of thought, many dead ends, and tons of hard work.

This seems a novel concept these days.

We want immediate actions and spontaneous results to some of the world’s most complicated problems. And by gum, we’re getting them.

Take terrorism (Please).

Yes, let's please discuss

Yes, let’s please discuss

The Republican Apprentice proposed a national registry just for Muslims, in addition to surveillance programs and taking a serious look at the mosques. (Note: Re the mosques – in Apprentice-speak that could mean anything from a walking tour to a burning tour depending on whether he’s talking to MSNBC or Fox News while subtly evoking images of the Holocaust or KKK).

Dr. Ben Carson advocated banning ALL Syrian refugees, whom he compared to rabid dogs running around your neighborhood.

Marco Rubio raked Pres. Obama over the coals for not taking more immediate, hands on action in light of the Paris attacks to stop the Syrian, or perhaps all immigration – it wasn’t quite clear. What was apparent…oh heck… here’s the chief sound byte from the diminutive Florida senator who could: This is a clash of civilizations. And either they win, or we win.

Ladies and gentleman and those who prefer to remain gender neutral: These are your three top Republican presidential nominee frontrunners. By A LOT. Either one of them or Hillary Clinton will be your next president.

Oh gawd, don't remind me!

Oh gawd, don’t remind me!

It’s not hard to imagine how long it took each of them to come up with those responses to perhaps what are the most complicated and perplexing issues of our time – how to stop terrorism, protect our homeland and help broker some sort of peaceful co-existence of various factions, tribes and religions in the Middle East.

A minute, 10 minutes, an hour? Certainly not a full day. They don’t have time for that.

Mrs. Clinton delivered a very detailed, in-depth, speech with her own complex plan and strategy. How boring.

Oh, and here’s the answer Pres. Obama gave at the G3 summit last week when a CNN International reporter/patriot spit out this thoughtful, provocative question re: radical terrorists: Why can’t we take out the bastards?

The president’s response: This is not, as I said, a traditional military opponent. We can retake territory. And as long as we leave our troops there we can hold it. But that does not solve the underlying problem of eliminating the dynamics that are producing these kinds of violent extremist groups.

What a wimpy nerd.

Just being honest

#reality

If I have to listen to or read about one more dumbass talking head angling for some votes, or trying to sell a few more books, or even adding a couple of more points to their TV Qs, I’m gonna barf.

And you try turning off the noise. Everyone’s talking about it. Commenting on things they know nothing about. Yes, I suppose that includes me – at least in comparison to Mrs. Clinton and the/our current sitting president. See the president gets confidential briefings on these matters daily and Hil circled the globe maybe five times as Secretary of State talking to all of the players. Which was 10 years after she spent 8 years as First Lady, circling the globe while married to another former sitting president.

Oh... was that me?

Oh… was that me?

If I wanted to build a hotel in Beirut even I might consult the Republican Apprentice. And while I wouldn’t trust him to operate on my brain for fear that someone might have told him about The Chair, I would certainly choose Dr. Ben’s hands over Hillary’s if it meant going under anesthesia. (Note: Wait, would I???) As for the Senator-ette that could – he hasn’t been in Washington, D.C. all that long and has one of the highest rates of absenteeism of any current elected official in Congress. So I guess if I needed an advisor on how to get elected to a job I didn’t want to do I admit he might be in my top five, or maybe even three.

But at the task at hand (i.e. how to stop the terrorists) – none of the above three.

blerg

blerg

They don’t take the time, they take the oxygen. And suck it out of the zeitgeist. To the point where most of the rest of us can’t breathe and recede into our own individual worlds – desperate to not pay attention when attention should be paid because it’s too tortuous to engage through their smoke and mirrors spew show of nonsensical rhetorical bluster. I always hated the jingoist dialogue in tent pole action movies. Why would I want to engage in it – or even listen to it – in real life?

It is in this way that the lazy know-nothings win. To fight them is the intellectual equivalent of continuing to go out to cafes in order to not let the terrorists win. But one has to keep paying attention, reason through the muck and fear and put a great deal of thought into considering what the long term solutions are and who best can lead us there if we are to survive through this.

We’ll be lucky if it takes just a year.