TV Critic Neil Genzlinger’s Absurd Quote, Samantha Bee, And The 9th Circuit’s Travel Halt Decision]

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First, a quote…

“There is a lot of bravado in this series about how comics are society’s truth-tellers. As Keegan-Michael Key puts it: “The comic has become the person who pulls back the curtain to show the world that: ‘Do you see that this is happening? We didn’t make this up.’”Of course, we’ve just been through a period in which comedians of all sorts joked about one possible outcome of the American presidential election as if it could never actually come to be, and it came to be anyway. Now, the comics holding that curtain may be realizing that, sometimes, the world isn’t listening or doesn’t care.”

—New York Times TV reviewer Neil Genzlinger, in his conclusion to the review of CNN’s documentary on the history of television comedy.

Ugh.

The reason, Neil, that the world “isn’t listening or doesn’t care” is that with very, very rare exceptions, the political pronouncements of comedians are simple-minded, ignorant, juvenile or worse. Unfortunately, comics are increasingly laboring under the delusion that their junior college degrees, narrow life experiences and success at making drunks cackle imbues them with some genuine authority to pass judgments on complex policy issues. This is manifestly untrue. The clowns are on TV because they are, or were, allegedly funny, not because they have anything more sophisticated to offer regarding foreign policy or tax reform than the average guy on a barstool.

I have now seen an ad for Samantha Bee’s comedy show “Full Frontal” approximately a million times, or so it seems. If she is really this  ignorant, her show should be banned by the NEA. All of her featured riff is about how horrible the President is—well, at least that’s original—and it ends with her statement, complete with “any idiot should know this” facial mugging, that “lawyers call” Trump’s temporary immigration halt from seven nations “unconstitutional.” 

No, you smug ignoramus, “lawyers” don’t. Most actual lawyers who have a passing knowledge of the Constitution know that foreign citizens not currently within the U.S. or previously approved to come here have no constitutional rights whatsoever. They do have human rights, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, which is why summarily droning foreigners we don’t like is problematical, but that was the last President, not this one, and I bet you think he was wonderful. The right to practice the religion of their choice  extends to everyone within the U.S., but nobody out of it who never  here of belonged here in the first place, so your snotty assertion of what “lawyers think” as an attack on the President is not funny, nor is it enlightening. It is just false. It is is exactly like saying “lawyers think” the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

We keep being told that millennials and others look to Bee, John Oliver, Bill Maher, Trevor Noah and other conservative-hating comedians to get their news, and Bee’s recent pronouncements are just one more example of how this makes as much sense as asking your mail carrier to do your taxes. These are entertainers with unwarranted faith in their own acuity and wisdom, and nobody—nobody—should listen to or care what they say ever unless the objective is to get a giggle or two before you put the revolver to your temple. The bias and incompetence of journalists is awful, but the reliability of comedians for substantive information on legislation, governance, economics, science, the humanities, medicine and law is infinitely worse.

By the way, this afternoon I heard  my third news reporter today state that the Ninth Circuit was deliberating whether the Executive Order in question was constitutional. That is 100% false. It is not the issue being determined, and never was. The Ninth Circuit has decided the narrow issue of whether the national TRO leveled on the order, stopping it from going into effect, should be lifted (NO!), on the Government’s theory that not doing so poses a risk to the safety of the U.S. public. Whether the Executive Order is unconstitutional—which only some lawyers claim, and not very convincingly—is very much in doubt.  One problem, which Bee wouldn’t understand (what are the odds that she has personally read the order? My guess: about the same odds as Elizabeth Warren sucking face with Betsy DeVos on Valentines Day), is that the rollout of the order was so confused that there is still serious uncertainty  regarding what it is meant to do.

Hence today’s decision by the 9th Circuit, which upheld the TRO, while suggesting that the Government’s shifting interpretations of the Executive Order have not been satisfactorily resolved, since “the White House counsel is not the President, and he is not known to be in the chain of command for any of the Executive Departments.” This seems to say, says Will Baude at Volokh, that before the White House Counsel’s post EO description of what the Executive Order means is going to be taken as fact, the order needs to be amended.

None of which is explicated by goo-goo cheap shots like Bee’s.Unfortunately, the media, which, as I already noted,  is only slightly more trustworthy than she is, works to credential Bee and her ilk. The Atlantic actually just described her as a “public intellectual,” which is like describing Colin Kaepernick as a professor of black studies.  Here’s another example of Bee’s intellectualism: yesterday, she–again smugly, because she says everything smugly, and I confess, listening people saying stupid things smugly in public is right down there with licking roadkill among my least favorite experiences—defended, intellectually of course, sanctuary cities, saying they are not merely places “where artists and the LGBTQ community seek sanctuary from the red states where they were born,”(intellectuals know that citizens in “red states” are not fit for human consort) but urban paradises where “undocumented people don’t have to live like animals.” Bee explained that in such cities  local police won’t detain people who are undocumented simply because they’re in the country illegal.

“If that sounds reasonable and compassionate to you,” Bee said, “congratulations, you haven’t been watching Fox News for the past five years.”

If police officers encouraging non-citizen law breakers to keep breaking laws out of “compassion” sounds reasonable to you, get help, since you  have somehow absorbed one of the most irresponsible and cynical bad ideas ever to come out of partisan politics.

And no, that doesn’t make you an intellectual. Far from it.

The Times critic’s suggestion that the public should ever listen to or care what American comedians say is good leadership or sound policy is formula for an even dumber populace than we already have.

UPDATE: Regarding the 9th Circuit’s non-review of the constitutionality of the Middle East travel order: the opinion makes perfect sense to me. If nothing else, the opinion sends the clear message that the Ted Mack Amateur Hour is no way to manage immigration, and an administration too confused and sloppy to make it clear to all what it is doing deserves to be slowed down, embarrassed and have its knuckles rapped. This lawyer agrees that no Executive Order should have to be interpreted according to what incompetent “advisors” like Rudy Giuliani babble in an interview, and the order is a good place for the President’s legal experts to get their act together.

But even Rudy deserves  to be listened to more than a stand-up comic.

_____________________

Sources: Washington Post, ,New York Times,

37 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Citizenship, Comment of the Day, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

37 responses to “TV Critic Neil Genzlinger’s Absurd Quote, Samantha Bee, And The 9th Circuit’s Travel Halt Decision]

  1. J. Houghton

    I like Rudy… but I liked him more maybe 20 years ago.

  2. E2 (nee Elizabeth I)

    Until now, I didn’t even know who Samantha Bee was, much less her characterization as an “intellectual.” That’s it. Back to Jane Austen and PG Wodehouse. I know, I know. I should force myself to keep “up” with popular culture, but when the likes of Samantha Bee presumes to inform political discourse, I decide once again on a break. This time I’m headed to Bertie and Jeeves and the silver cow creamer.

  3. Other Bill

    isn’t “full frontal” a type of lobotomy?

    • Hi O.B. I can’t tell if you’re being cheeky, or not, but if not, the Full Frontal is referring to full frontal nudity, as in, she gives you the whole story w/o any filter. In theory.

      My father loves her; I absolutely cannot stand her, mainly because of the constant smugness (any ideology that has her as a follower, ‘aint the ideology for me. If she suddenly became a conservative, I would instantly begin doubting myself and my beliefs), but also because no party and no ideology is foolproof. You can be 100% set that your way of thinking is better than your opposition; you cannot, logically or reasonably think that your way of thinking, or those who think like you, is above reproach. Her absolute refusal to acknowledge the flaws of the politicians she supports, her way of thinking, and her ideology (aside from an occasional, tepid “Hillary is unlikeable” throwaway line), makes her worthless as a news source, to me.

      • Other Bill

        Chris, I prefer “ironic” to “cheeky” but either will suffice. I don’t have the patience you have. I just toss verbal squibs. The smug left has worn me out. I’ll leave the contest to you and your generation. Regards.

    • Pennagain

      Thanks, Bill. Fits perfectly.

      • Pennagain

        (wrong place in the thread, Bill. Sorry.) To clarify for Chris or anyone else who didn’t get it, your definition of “full frontal” is in this case funny, apt, informative and altogether top comic.

  4. Chris

    “Whether the Executive Order is unconstitutional—which only some lawyers claim, and not very convincingly—is very much in doubt.”

    If some lawyers state that the order is unconstitutional, than Bee’s claim that “lawyers call” the order “unconstitutional” is just as true as this claim:

    “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

    Unless, of course, you’re saying comedians have more of a duty to be careful with language than presidential candidates.

    • This is such a ridiculous argument that out of respect I’m going to ignore it and pretend you wouldn’t stoop that low. B’s statement is false, and intended to convey something that isn’t true. Trump’s statement was not intended to convey anything false, and didn’t. Bee wasn’t making an assertion about the nature of lawyers. If she said, “lawyers get disbarred,” I would know that she was not talking about all lawyers, or most lawyers, just as it was not a statement by Trump that “all illegal immigrants are rapists.” Bee, instead, was asserting a conclusion of presumed experts that isn’t a fact. There are a few Climate scientists who say global warming isn’t happening. If she were to say, “Scientists say there is no global warming,” that would be an analogous statement, misleading, deceitful and false.

      • Orin T

        Trump’s statement: ““When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people” is B.S. It is misleading and deceitful. The inclusion of “I assume” implies that he is not sure that any of immigrants are “good people.” This like most assertions made during a campaign has more to do with persuading voters then with uttering truth.

      • Chris

        If she said, “lawyers get disbarred,” I would know that she was not talking about all lawyers, or most lawyers, just as it was not a statement by Trump that “all illegal immigrants are rapists.”

        I think that comparison is much weaker than mine. If I say “Mexicans are rapists,” that implies that I think all Mexicans are rapists.

  5. Margie

    “They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

    It never ceases to amaze me that people latch onto the false notion that he was calling all Mexicans rapists, and ignore the fact that, if that was indeed what he meant (which he didn’t), then he was also saying that some rapists are good people.

  6. All of this could be the result of journalists abdicating their responsibility, causing the subsequent vacuum to be filled by crack-pots.

  7. fattymoon

    “If police officers encouraging non-citizen law breakers to keep breaking laws out of “compassion” sounds reasonable to you…”

    Really? I think you just jumped the shark.

    • That, unfortunately, shows that you have been infected. The idea that lawbreaking of any kind should be systematical encouraged is suicidal, and bats. To apply that rationalization—that’s what it is—to immigration can’t be defended logically..and hasn’t.

      • fattymoon

        Nah, I’ve been vaccinated.
        What I’m saying is… Are you saying that police will ignore law breakers if they are non-citizens residing in a sanctuary city? That doesn’t sound logical to me.

        • That’s what police are saying. I’m saying that the entire concept that illegal immigrants should be patted on the head and allowed to casually break US law by coming here, out of “compassion” essentially destroys the whole concept of law and equal protection. If you break the law because you have problems, it’s OK, but breaking the same law because you’re a lawbreaking jackass isn’t? She’s a moron. That is the entire thrust of the Bee argument, and if one believes “No, it doesn’t matter WHY you break laws, you’re still accountable,” it’s because someone watches Fox News.

          • fattymoon

            Oh, now I think I get what you’re saying. I THOUGHT you were saying police won’t arrest illegal immigrants even if they commit a crime. (I don’t mean the crime of being an illegal immigrant). Thanks for the clarification.

            Never saw Bee. My go-to is the dearly departed George Carlin. Bet he’s having a field day up there.

          • Chris

            Here’s another example of Bee’s intellectualism: yesterday, she–again smugly, because she says everything smugly, and I confess, listening people saying stupid things smugly in public is right down there with licking roadkill among my least favorite experiences—defended, intellectually of course, sanctuary cities, saying they are not merely places “where artists and the LGBTQ community seek sanctuary from the red states where they were born,”(intellectuals know that citizens in “red states” are not fit for human consort) but urban paradises where “undocumented people don’t have to live like animals.” Bee explained that in such cities local police won’t detain people who are undocumented simply because they’re in the country illegal.

            “If that sounds reasonable and compassionate to you,” Bee said, “congratulations, you haven’t been watching Fox News for the past five years.”

            If police officers encouraging non-citizen law breakers to keep breaking laws out of “compassion” sounds reasonable to you, get help, since you have somehow absorbed one of the most irresponsible and cynical bad ideas ever to come out of partisan politics.

            This is just a strawman, Jack.

            Bee’s exact quote, according to you, is that sanctuary cities are places where “undocumented people don’t have to live like animals.”

            That is what she is saying should sound reasonable and compassionate.

            Now, to argue against this, you’d need to explain why her premise that undocumented people in other places have to live like animals is false. (Alternately, you could accept the premise and say that her conclusion that avoiding this is reasonable and compassionate is wrong, but that seems like a tougher argument.)

            But she did not say “police officers encouraging non-citizen law breakers to keep breaking laws” is reasonable and compassionate.

            I think Bee has a point: undocumented immigrants often do live in poor conditions in the US, and often put up with low wages, unreported abuse, and other unreported crimes because they are afraid to go to the police.

            As I understand it, the practical argument for sanctuary cities is that we want undocumented immigrants to report crimes without fear of deportation, otherwise crimes will go unreported. Trying to catch and deport the majority of undocumented immigrants could also be a drain on the police’s resources, and negatively impact a city’s economy. These all sound like “reasonable” causes to support sanctuary cities to me.

            The compassion argument speaks for itself, and I admit it is both weaker and more prominently cited in defense of sanctuary cities.

            • No, no, no. She specifically related “living like animals” To “not fearing arrest by the police” That’s HER straw man. And yours, apparently. It’s an especially odious one too: if illegals feel they are living like animals because they lack legal status, then they are absolutely free to go the hell home.. They have no right to life like law abiding Americans, and that [STRAW MAN!] is the essense of a false dichotomy: it’s either be able to break the law and not fear enforcement, or “live like animals.” Right. Moronic.

              We agree that it should be easier for immigrants to come here legally. It does NOT follow that that this justifies not enforcing current law, or the 100% ignorant, assinine and undefendable claim that hardship of the law breaker justifies ignoring the law

        • Matthew B

          In sanctuary cities,police will be disciplined for cooperating with federal immigration officials. Since GW Bush One has focused heavily on felons to deport. The Ins will request local agencies to turn over felons to them instead of releasing them. Local agencies refuse.

          That right there is lawlessness.

  8. Jack on the travel ban ruling, I hope and trust you are not suggesting that the Ninth Circuit’s role is to “send a message” to the neophytes in the new administration. It may end up having that positive effect but if that is the intention then the ends do not justify the means.

    The opinion stretches standing as a legal concept to the breaking point. Third parties generally do not have standing in immigration cases. States can always say that the decision in a case may impact who enters their state, or attends a state university. But if that is to be the law, then the requirement of standing is a joke.

    Especially with standing being so thin, the comment about the government not having enough evidence of a need for the order is a dangerous judicial overreach. The independent judiciary derives its powers from its constitutional authority to decide cases and controversies. If it stretches standing to a previously-unrecognizable point to decide political cases, then the judiciary has overstepped its bounds.

    It is especially dangerous here. What if the judges are wrong about the need for the ban, or right but unlucky? What if, god forbid there is a terrorist act perpetrated by somebody who got here by virtue of the TRO? That would not only lead to human victims but it would undermine the reputation of the judiciary, perhaps permanently.

    • Dan,

      I read that standing argument, too. I was confused. I thought federal required more than a mere suggestion that a state someday, someway, somehow, might not be able to offer a state-run university position to someone from somewhere else to confer standing to sue the federal government. Is the Ninth Circuit,by extension, conferring standing on non-immigrants who might someway, somehow, someway want to study at
      University of Texas to sue for admission to that university? Or does that Ninth Circuit believe that standing is simply conferred on someone to sue because that someone is not happy with a government policy.

      As National Review writer David French noted, “Applied more generally, this ruling would give state attorneys general extraordinarily broad powers to act essentially as lawyers for actual or potential immigrants — merely by pointing to the alleged costs incurred by key state institutions if they are even temporarily deprived of the immigrant’s presence.”

      Here is the link: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/444785/ninth-circuit-travel-ban-donald-trump-ruling?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_content=french

      jvb

  9. Neil A. Dorr

    Jack,

    “The reason, Neil, that the world “isn’t listening or doesn’t care” is that with very, very rare exceptions, the political pronouncements of comedians are simple-minded, ignorant, juvenile or worse.”

    In other words, funny. They are entertainers, after all.

  10. Michael Ejercito

    Here’s another example of Bee’s intellectualism: yesterday, she–again smugly, because she says everything smugly, and I confess, listening people saying stupid things smugly in public is right down there with licking roadkill among my least favorite experiences—defended, intellectually of course, sanctuary cities, saying they are not merely places “where artists and the LGBTQ community seek sanctuary from the red states where they were born,”(intellectuals know that citizens in “red states” are not fit for human consort) but urban paradises where “undocumented people don’t have to live like animals.” Bee explained that in such cities local police won’t detain people who are undocumented simply because they’re in the country illegal.

    Here is something ken Schultz wrote about this.

    http://reason.com/blog/2017/02/09/georgia-bill-limits-universities-ability#comment_6748277

    “One of those policies is a 2011 rule saying that under Title IX, colleges and universities have to investigate and punish instances of sex discrimination, including allegations of rape.”

    So, here’s a question: Why is this okay with Title IX, but not with sanctuary cities?

    Take the University of Georgia, state college, I believe it’s employees are public employees of the state of Georgia

    One of the main arguments against the government punishing sanctuary cities for refusing to check immigration status is that it’s wrong for the federal government to commandeer state law enforcement to enforce federal law.

    Meanwhile, the Department of Education is commandeering state employees at public universities to enforce Title IX–which is federal law?

  11. Thanks for that clown reference! I hate clowns. Clowns, by definition are unethical, immoral, and illegal. All of them. And anything to do with them. Yes. I am coulrophobc. Completely. Now, I have to see my therapist (or perhaps confer with The Macallan, which ever is closer) to get that clown image out of my head.

    jvb

    • E2 (nee Elizabeth I)

      I agree wholeheartedly. Since childhood I have found clowns to be creepy and scary in the extreme. (With the exception of Jimmy Stewart in “The Greatest Show on Earth,” but then he was being Jimmy Stewart and not a clown.

      That said, what right do these ignorant, narcissistic “comedians” have setting themselves up as political commentators who should be taken seriously?

      At least Al Franken gave up comedy (at least presumably) and got a seat in Congress. Not a great addition to that august body, but at least he put himself in the correct venue to make his beliefs heard… for good or ill.

      • Chris

        That said, what right do these ignorant, narcissistic “comedians” have setting themselves up as political commentators who should be taken seriously?

        Do you not know what a right is?

        • When in doubt, intentionally misconstrue what is being said. Yes, E2 knows there is a technical “right” to lie, to assume expertise one does not have, to pose as a national authority based on nothing but gall.

          When someone says, “”what right do you have” to judge me, “what right do you have” to act like that, “what right do you have” to speak to me that way, we all know that the speaker is not asserting the lack of Constitutional rights, or that there is an actual LAW preventing it.

          Elisabeth has a good reason to ask you the question you asked her. She was using the FIRST definition of the noun

          “right,” as in Oxford’s

          RIGHT 1[mass noun] That which is morally correct, just, or honourable. ‘she doesn’t understand the difference between right and wrong’ [count noun] ‘the rights and wrongs of the matter’

          E2 was saying it is WRONG to do this, in other words. You intentionally chose to ignore the obvious and correct meaning, and accused her of meaning the SECOND Oxford definition of the word,

          RIGHT 2. moral or legal entitlement to have or do something:
          [with infinitive] ‘she had every right to be angry’
          ‘you’re quite within your rights to ask for your money back’
          [mass noun] ‘there is no right of appeal against the decision’

          Yes, comedians have a legal right to do the wrong thing. That’s ethics 101, and I’m pretty sure you know that, so your use of this rhetorical trick is pretty obnoxious. What’s gotten into you lately?

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