Oh, Good…A Non-Political Reason To Avoid Saturday Night Live

Sanz and Fallon

It’s a sad truth, at least for me: the more you know about comedians and comics, the harder it is to laugh at them. There are notable exceptions of course (and as always): Martin Short, John Candy, Carol Burnett and a few more apparently are or were genuinely nice and relatively normal human beings. As a rule, however, extraordinary comedy talent is nourished by misery and emotional pain, and misery and emotional pain have a strong tendency to produce broken, sick, untrustworthy people.

For a lot of audience members, this isn’t a problem. For me, it is. I love great comedy, I’ve directed comedies, I’ve written comic scripts, revues, parodies and essays, and I’ve performed comedy. But once I learn that a comedy genius was or is a horrible human being, or acts like one sufficiently frequently not to be trusted, I just don’t enjoy watching and listening to that performer any more. The list of those who have landed on my “Can’t Make Me Laugh List” is too long to compile, and I really don’t care to encourage debates about whether it should matter that Charlie Chaplin was sexually attracted to little girls, or that Danny Kaye was a cruel misanthrope. It matters to me.

There are a few compensating advantages of this mindset, though. I haven’t watched a single minute of Saturday Night Live for so long I don’t even remember exactly when I started finding the show repugnant after years of never missing an episode. The reason I stopped watching was the show’s increasingly smug political bias that began to swallow the satire whole. I know it was somewhere around the George W. Bush presidency. (I had a similar experience then with David Letterman and The Daily Show.) SNL’s conversion into a full-time shill for progressives and Democrats became especially nauseating when it became addicted to using left-wing thug Alec Baldwin as a guest. There is no one on Earth I hate enough to find Alec Baldwin mocking him or her funny, and when it comes to Baldwin’s Trump impression, only the biases of Saturday Night Live directors and audiences can explain its popularity. As a director, I’d consider his amateurish routine unacceptable in a Cub Scout skit.

Fortunately, a recent emerging scandal looks like it will give me a new reason to detest the show that has nothing to do with politics.

Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The Rep. Matt Gaetz Story, Which So Far Consists Of Allegations That He’s A Creep Being Pressed By The Same People Who Supported Joe Biden For President When They KNEW Joe Was A Creep

So far, the only allegations of illegal activity by Gaetz, the Florida Congressman who appears to be a prominent target because he was an aggressive supporter of President Trump, involve an investigation by the Justice Department regarding possible sex crimes involving underage women. Investigations are not evidence of anything, as the despicable Russian collusion tactic against Trump illustrated. If we are to presume innocence after charges are filed against an American, we must certainly presume innocence before any evidence of a crime has been found.

Sadly, progressives and Democrats have increasingly drifted away from the concept of presumed innocence as they flirt with totalitarianism. Men are presumed sex criminals: all that’s required is an accusation by a woman. Whites are presumed racists. Well, let me clarify that: these things are presumed true if they involve conservatives, Republicans, police officers, celebrities and teachers. If they arise in reference to leaders of the Democratic Party, the rules are different. In fact, the news media makes them up as the situation demands.

I have seen enough to conclude that Rep. Gaetz is a creep. I don’t like creeps, and as a general proposition I don’t think creeps should be in positions of influence and power, because you can’t trust creeps. They are ethically “bent.” Still, we have had a lot of creeps in our history who have, despite themselves, been, at least arguably,net positives to the nation. Thomas Jefferson was a creep, for example. Jack Kennedy. Bill Clinton. Donald Trump.

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No, Eva Murry’s Icky Story About Joe Biden Doesn’t Make Tara Reade’s Accusation More Credible [UPDATED!]

Cool your jets, conservative media.

Two days ago, Law and Crime, usually a partisan website on the Democratic side, posted the detailed allegation of Eva Murry, a 26-year-old woman who is engaged and has two children. The site treated it as a major scoop (“A woman says she was sexually harassed by presumptive Democratic Party Presidential nominee Joe Biden when she was 14 years old”) and the conservative news media picked up the ball and ran for the metaphorical goal-line. Fox News wrote, “A woman related to a former Republican Senate candidate is accusing former Vice President Joe Biden of sexual harassment…The claim comes as Biden is denying a separate allegation made by former staffer Tara Reade that he sexually assaulted her in 1993.” Further down the food chain—much further— the Trump-boosting blog WS sported the headline, “Report: Another Biden Accuser Comes Forward, Says He Sexually Harassed Her When She Was Only 14-Years-Old,” and began, “Yet another Biden accuser has come forward with a disgusting story of sexual harassment.”

Eva Murry’s account has absolutely no relevance to Tara Reade’s allegations of sexual assault. None. It should not be treated as if it does.

In an earlier post, I listed the three reasons why I am dubious of Reade’s accusation. The first is that she took so long to make her accusation public, a problem she shares with Dr. Blasey Ford and Anita Hill, among others. Second, the accusation looks and feels like a politically-motivated attack, another feature redolent of Hill and Ford. Third, such accusations are always suspect when they are alone.

It’s still alone. Murry’s story is the kind of “this guy is a creep” tale that came from all sides at Donald Trump during the Presidential campaign. We know Biden is a creep, or should; it doesn’t provide any reason to believe he is capable of sexual assault no matter how hard his adversaries try to spin it. Continue reading

The Lesson Of Berkeley’s “Free Speech Week” Fiasco: Jerks Make Terrible Champions And Martyrs

Conservative agitator/ campus troll Milo Yiannopoulos’s Free Speech Week in Berkeley, California was advertised as a major event, bringing some of the most Left-reviled  conservative speakers and rabble-rousers together for four straight days of speeches and events on a campus that has repeatedly disgraced itself by being hostile to speech its primarily progressive denizens consider “hate speech.”

The University of California was taking elaborate measures to avoid the violence that protesters there and at other campuses have brought to appearances by many of the featured speakers. It was rumored that as much as $600,000 would be spent on security. The prospect of the rhetoric of such professional provocateurs as Yiannopoulosas, Steve Bannon and Ann Coulter, to name the best known, echoing around the school where it was least welcome promised an instant cultural touch-point, like a right-wing Woodstock, while challenging leftists and ideological censors to reveal their ugly, totalitarian sides.

But by the end of the week, many were predicting that the event was a mirage. Speakers whose names had been promoted on preliminary schedules either pulled out, denied they had been contacted  or said they were never planning to go. The campus publication sponsoring Yiannopoulos’s circus, The Berkeley Patriot, never reserved indoor school venues. Yiannopoulos kept up the pretense, announcing on Instagram a planned march through campus tomorrow in protest of Berkeley’s hostility to free speech. “It’s time to reclaim free speech at UC Berkeley and send shockwaves through the American education system to every other college under liberal tyranny,” Yiannopoulos wrote.

Today, the day before the “Week” was to begin, UC Berkeley announced  that ‘Free Speech Week’ was officially cancelled, saying,

“Representatives of the Berkeley Patriot student organization have informed UC Berkeley’s administration that all of the events scheduled for the coming week have been canceled. It is extremely unfortunate that this announcement was made at the last minute, even as the university was in the process of spending significant sums of money and preparing for substantial disruption of campus life in order to provide the needed security for these events.”

Now there is mass confusion, with strong indications that the event was a sham from the start. Lucian Wintrich, one of the planned speakers, e-mailed Cal spokesman Dan Mogulof this morning,  to say that the event had been a set-up from the start. “It was known that they didn’t intend to actually go through with it last week, and completely decided on Wednesday,” Wintrich wrote.

“Wait, whoah, hold on a second,” replied Mogulof. “What, exactly, are you saying? What were you told by MILO Inc? Was it a set-up from the get-go?”

 

Wintrich replied, “Yes.”

An account of the chaos and miscommunications surrounding the event published by The Atlantic yesterday certainly made this development seem probable. Milo, as late as this afternoon, insisted that the intention was always to hold a real week of speeches. He has as much credibility as someone who makes his living creating controversies and infuriating his ideological foes deserves to have: none.

What’s going on here? Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/15/2017

Gooooood Morning Ethics Alarms Readers in Vietnam (3, 501 views so far)!!

1. I am three new rationalizations and at least two Comments of the Day behind. Sorry.

2. One of the more creative efforts to make Donald Trump Jr.’s aborted opposition research meeting seem significant, sinister and one more step to the impeachment “the resistance” and the news media so, so desperately want is this article in the Washington Post, by a Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, the director of the Intelligence and Defense Project at Harvard’s Belfer Center, who was a director of intelligence and counterintelligence at the Department of Energy and previously a CIA intelligence officer in domestic and international posts. His analysis is a masterpiece of projection, supposition, unwarranted assumptions and exaggeration. Rolf’s argument is that the meeting is important because it constituted a “green light” to Russia that the Trump campaign approved of Russian meddling in the election, would not blow the whistle on it, would be open to more serious involvement, and would respond to such action with future quid pro quo favors. All of this, simply based on the willingness to meet on the hopes of acquiring dirt on Hillary Clinton.

It is useful a a microcosm of the entire Russia-Trump conspiracy theory, and indeed conspiracy theories generally. Applied to an agreement between a married man and a single woman to have drinks together, the fact that the man never tells his spouse about the meeting means that the man thought the meeting was illicit, was open to having adulterous sex with the woman, would react favorably to the woman’s subsequent efforts to undermine his marriage, and was a green light to the woman to escalate her seduction. But as in the case of Trump’s meeting, a married man having drinks with an unmarried woman is not illicit, no matter what Mike Pence thinks, and is not proof of any further actions or unethical intent no matter what conclusions the woman leaps to. There is also the disconnect that under Mowatt-Larssen’s analysis and his version of the Russian thinking, Donald Trump Jr was central to the Trump campaign rather than incidental. He also seems to think the right hand in this chaotic organization knew what the right hand was doing, which we know not to be true. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On Bill Maher’s Incest Joke About Ivanka Trump

This is my favorite photo of Bill Maher. It captures the essence of his charm, his manners and his wit so perfectly…

Following the (much deserved and still not sufficient) criticism of Fox News’ Jesse Watters’ leering “joke” about Ivanka Trump’s handling of a microphone, HBO’s Bill Maher gave conservative critics an opportunity to trot out the  “we have standards, where are yours?” accusation against liberals when the host of “Real Time” made suggestive gestures while talking about how the First Daughter “helps” President Trump.

“What do you make of Ivanka and her efforts to sort of humanize her father?”, the comic asked guest Gabe Sherman ( a writer, book author, Fox News critic and a vocal one regarding Watters’ incivility). “We see all this misogyny at Fox News [ KABOOM!, incidentally. If there is anyone on earth other than the President more ethically estopped from accusing someone else of misogyny, it’s Maher, who flings “cunt” and “twat” at women he disagrees with and who cheered Bill Clinton’s exploitation of Monica Lewinsky on the grounds that “he works hard, and he deserves it”); we see it in Donald Trump himself. A lot of us thought, Ivanka is gonna be our saving grace.” Then, as he mimed Ivanka masturbating her father, Maher continued, “When he’s about to nuke Finland or something, she’s gonna walk into the bedroom and—”Daddy, Daddy…’Don’t do it, Daddy!”‘

This most recent vulgarity by Maher as his audience of hateful left-wing boors hooted on cue even moved the progressive tool Daily Beast to complain that “if liberals are going to castigate Donald Trump for his boorish, sexist behavior, they shouldn’t behave in a similar fashion” —a point that is too little and far too late in the case of proudly boorish, sexist Bill Maher.

Ethics Observations: Continue reading

Jesse Waters Reminds Us That The Misogynist Culture At Fox News Is A Lot Deeper Than Just Roger Ailes And Bill O’Reilly [UPDATED]

On the Fox News show “The Five,” in the course of a discussion of Ivanka Trump’s appearance at a conference in Berlin where  she was jeered  for defending her father’s record of supporting women, Fox News commentator Jesse Watters made the following comment in reference to the photo above:

I really liked the way she was speaking into that microphone.

Nice.

The degree to which Fox News is definitively exposed as a sexist, oppressive environment catering to over-aged sniggering frat boys where professional women both betray their gender and their self-respect by accepting paychecks to be abused, ogled and hit upon is inversely proportional to the time it takes for the network to fire this toxic asshole.

He made a fellatio reference regarding the President’s daughter, on the air, smiling broadly.  [Absurdly, news organizations are writing that “some commenters” are “interpreting Watters’ comment as a sexual innuendo.” Right: the commentators with eyes, ears, brains and integrity who aren’t paid by Fox News.] Then, after the predictable negative response (although Fox hosts apparently assume that all of their viewers are both mentally challenged and have been frozen in glaciers since 1956). Watters lied brazenly, telling BuzzFeed: “During the break we were commenting on Ivanka’s voice and how it was low and steady and resonates like a smooth jazz radio DJ. This was in no way a joke about anything else.”

Sure, Jesse. So now we know you think we’re all stupid, and you’re a disgrace to your profession. Continue reading

Unethical Tweet Of The Month: The Despicable Howard Dean

howarddean-tweet

What can you say about this kind of slimy, unethical innuendo from a former Democratic Party chair? How hateful and uncivil the brand of politics and partisan nastiness that it symbolizes and advances? That it represents gutter political smearing at its worst and most unforgivable? That a party with any dignity and sense of decency would demand an apology and a retraction or cut ties with such a shameless creep? That someone who would do this has never heard of the Golden Rule, much less follows it?

The only remaining question is whether this ugly tweet allows Dean to surpass  or merely  Harry Reid as the most loathsome individual on the political scene, edging past the disgraced Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

I’m trying to think of a similarly ethically irredeemable Republican. Chris Christie hasn’t sunk to this level; Newt Gingrich is close, but he wouldn’t do this. Ironically, the only one I can think of is…Donald Trump.

A Donald Trump KABOOM! How Can A Creep Like This Be Running For President?

calvin_headexplode

A recently uncovered clip from a 1994 episode of “Lifestyle of The Rich And Famous” was shown on Comedy Central and left host Trevor Noah with a bad case of the oogies…as it will you.

I hope.

“Donald, what does Tiffany have of yours and what does she have of Marla’s?” the show’s host, Robin Leach, asked, referring to Trump’s then one-year-old daughter and her mother and Trump’s second wife, Marla Maples.

“I think she’s got a lot of Marla, she’s a beautiful baby. She’s got beautiful legs. We don’t know if she’s got this part yet,” Trump said, as he cupped his hands under his chest to signify breasts, “But time will tell.”

Kaboom. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Matt Drudge

SAG

Matt Drudge, on his Drudge Report,  posted the above photo of Susan Sarandon with the caption, “SAG.”

Nice.

The link was to this story, a really stupid one, about criticism the 69-year old actress is receiving for dressing this way to deliver an award at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

The Drudge Report, I must note, is the favorite, go-to source for political news for conservative pundits.

The gag is per se nasty, ageist, misogynist, and creepy. Sarandon is roundly hated by conservatives for being an outspoken feminist and supporter of liberal causes. The “joke” is an ad hominem attack and a despicable cheap shot. Somewhere, someplace there might be someone who has standing to make fun of Susan Sarandon’s looks, but I don’t know of any. By the way, here is Matt Drudge:

Drudge

One can debate the tastefulness of her attire, but Sarandon, as always, looks smashing.