Horrendous Tyranny of The Humorless Twits

If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at? Apparently nobody, if the case of an Indian-American comedian recently yanked off the stage in mid-performance by the Columbia University Asian-American Alliance is any indication. The reason: telling politically incorrect jokes.

As comedian and “Saturday Night Live” writer Nimesh Patel performed at the group’s terribly named “CultureShock: Reclaim” event, he was told by organizers his night was over because his material was homophobic and racist.

But was it really? Here’s an example: “Being gay cannot be a choice because no one looks in a mirror and thinks, this black thing is too easy, let me just add another thing to it.”

How stupid do you have to be to not realize this is irony, a pro-gay and black joke? How insulated must one be not to realize that millions of Americans still think being gay is a choice, that you aren’t born that way? That was clearly Patel’s point, but these guardians of purity somehow miss the difference between racist jokes and supportive ones.

These Patel bashers are the same type of humorless scolds who drove the likable cartoon character Apu, owner of “The Simpsons” Kwik-E-Mart and the most popular Hindu-Bengali character in TV history, off the air earlier this year.

Apu’s critics complained that he was a stereotype with an accent. No kidding. It’s satire! Every character on the Simpsons is a stereotype. Police chief Wiggum is a corrupt, doughnut-stuffing fool; Krusty the Clown is Jewish, boorish and with multiple addictions; while white, Christian Homer Simpson is a fat, lazy moron. Yet we care about them all.

Simpsons creator Matt Groening told The Guardian, “I think it’s a time in our culture where people love to pretend they’re offended.”

And it’s not solely the self-righteous left that’s guilty of this. Not sure? Turn on Fox News this month, and watch its annual wail about how no one is allowed to say Merry Christmas anymore. Seriously? Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Festivus!

Meanwhile, Patel told his audience that he meant no harm, and that his aim was simply to expose people to real-world ideas. In response, his mike was cut off.

Free speech? Real world? Not in our safe space!

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Face Facts About Facebook

Somewhere along the line, in addition to sharing birthday wishes and cute kitten videos, Facebook thought it would be a great idea to share Russian propaganda that has damaged our democracy. The friendly mask Facebook presented to the world fell to reveal the same greed, deception and corruption political Facebook users often wail about on the site.

Years ago, many liberals viewed the large, established U.S. corporations as bad, and the newer, “enlightened” tech companies as good. Those days are over.

After a speech in which billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros blasted Facebook as an out-of-control menace to society, calling for stricter (any?) regulations on the company, Facebook launched a campaign to smear and demonize him. The tech giant is now doing what Fox News and other right-wing media have undertaken for years — relentless propaganda casting Soros, who supports democracy and human rights around the world, as the face of evil.

Feminist icon Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, recently asked Facebook employees to dig up dirt on Soros, and the company hired Definers Public Affairs, a Republican-linked research firm, to do just that. Facebook was soon accused of “trafficking in anti-Semitic attacks against the billionaire,” according to The New York Times. Not long after, Definers was fired.

If I had a dollar for every moment I’ve wasted on Facebook, mindlessly scrolling or arguing politics with strangers who used to write letters to the editor in crayon, I’d be richer than Soros. My bad. I’m also sick of the company’s constant mining for my private information, especially after learning that tens of millions of Facebook users had their privacy compromised by Cambridge Analytica, a Donald Trump campaign-linked data firm, according to the Times.

Maybe the time has come to log off Facebook for good. But what about our friendships? If your Facebook friends are mainly people you wouldn’t recognize if you bumped into them on the street, they really aren’t your friends. Perhaps take the time you save, go out and make some real ones?

Yes, we’ll have to figure out a way to maintain vital contacts we’ve established on the site, but with the way Facebook is behaving lately, I think it’s time to say so long.

I want my privacy back.

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Following Trump No Tweet

In an effort to keep my readers better informed and my blood pressure from getting too low, I’ve started following President Donald Trump on Twitter. Here are a few recent pearls of wisdom:

–“Of course we should have captured Osama Bin Laden long before we did. I pointed him out in my book just BEFORE the attack on the World Trade Center.”

This tweet was sent right after heroic former Navy SEAL Commander William McRaven, the architect of the raid that killed Bin Laden, described Trump calling the news media the enemy of the people “the greatest threat to American democracy I’ve ever seen.” Probably coincidence.

–“So funny to see little Adam Schitt (D-Ca.) talking about the fact that Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker was not approved by the Senate, but not mentioning the fact that Bob Mueller (who is highly conflicted) was not approved by the Senate!”

So funny to see the President of the United States try to bully a Congressman by using a schoolyard insult a 12 year old boy would find vulgar and infantile. Not funny hah-hah, funny pathetic.

–“You just can’t win with the Fake News media. A big story today is that because I have pushed so hard and gotten gasoline prices so low, more people are driving and I have caused traffic jams throughout our great nation. Sorry everyone!”

“A big story?” Maybe in Trump’s imagination. I saw traffic at a standstill on 5th Avenue the Friday after Thanksgiving, and thought it was due to “Black Friday” sales. Silly me__it’s because our stable genius leader has singlehandedly lowered gas prices!

–“Brutal and extended cold blast shatter ALL RECORDS. Whatever happened to global warming?”

Great point! While the rate of melting ice sheets in Antarctica has tripled over the last five years, they should start freezing up again any day now. And those in Miami sloshing around in ankle-deep water after hurricanes and rainstorms? Hang in there, a dry cold front is on the way! But what about Friday’s government report warning that if we don’t start taking climate change seriously, it will cause massive national and economic damage? FAKE NEWS!

Uh-huh. Whatever you say (or tweet), Mr. President.

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On Thanksgiving, Still Plenty To Be Thankful For

How did it get here so fast?

On the earliest fourth Thursday of November possible, we gather tomorrow with family, often arriving from far distances, to give thanks, and in many households, a silent prayer: Don’t say Trump, don’t say Trump, don’t say Trump!

Because Thanksgiving should be a time of love and gratitude, not political warfare and people storming out before the first course.

In these trying times, it’s more important than ever to remember what we are thankful for. The moment I did, I realized my list is long—hope yours is too!

–I’m thankful to be alive, to have seen the beautiful fall colors once again and for the simple things we all take for granted—until we don’t have them anymore.

–I’m thankful that the three people in my family who love dark meat have finally found a way to split two drumsticks three ways. Okay, we’re a little slow on the uptake, but we did it!

–I’m thankful for my Irish-Catholic sister-in-law who makes great matzoh ball soup as an appetizer each year, from my late mother’s recipe. Thanks Karen!

–I’m thankful for a roof over my head, food on my table and other daily blessings that millions of people around the world—and yes, the nation—still only dream of.

–I’m thankful that another dismal New York professional football season is nearly two-thirds over, and that baseball pitchers and catchers is only three months away!

–I’m thankful that my diligent exercise program has trimmed me down to within 5 pounds of my target weight, and plan to take a flattering photo of myself Thursday morning before I blimp up again.

–I’m thankful for the Thanksgiving Day parade, that corny, wonderful event that made me happy as a child and still makes me smile as I see the inflated turkey and other familiar floats bravely battling the gusty breezes over Central Park West, as well as the new chocolate factory float!

And despite our differences, I am thankful to still live in the greatest country on earth, a beacon of hope and freedom to those around the world. Let’s keep it that way!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Amazon to Queens? Smart Move

When I read Tuesday that Amazon had officially chosen Long Island City as one of two locations for its next headquarters, I flashed back a few years to a play I had produced in Florida. When the play was in NYC, I had the luxury of picking from hundreds of top-notch actors. In Florida, I had to settle for a lead actor who couldn’t remember his lines.

Sure, talented actors who long to work on stage flock to NYC. But it’s not just the entertainment field — the most impressive performers in every industry seem to wind up here.

And no one knows that better than Amazon. While a number of heartland cities in red states were eager to lure the tech giant, they never had a chance. For Republican strongholds overrun with anti-science, anti-immigration sentiments and regressive ideologies, the chickens were coming home to roost.

Whether it’s leading actors, scientists, or techies, New Yorkers don’t mock “elites,” we treasure them. Young, well-educated, open-minded people simply don’t want to live and work in areas with the values and attitudes of the 1950s, but rather in cities where diverse people and lifestyles are welcomed.

Rapidly evolving LIC, previously known more as a place to get high in scuzzy bars and strip clubs than for high tech, has become unrecognizable to longtime locals, with a massive rebuild underway long before Amazon even set sights on it.

Now that Amazon, headed by Jeff Bezos, is on its way, can the neighborhood accelerate its development? Perhaps some future Amazon employees will live in the residential units springing up all over LIC. Will they sample local restaurants? Amazon already offers free food to employees to encourage them to eat at their desks. Will many of them walk to work and never leave the building?

Meanwhile, New Yorkers have suffered from a lack of affordable housing as well as antiquated, overcrowded subways for years, and the massive influx of new workers — some 25,000 at least — won’t help.

Will Amazon offer its strategic planning expertise to help solve these ongoing problems? The innovative thinking needed to resolve them has been sorely lacking from our politicians.

Hmm, maybe Bezos can run for mayor?

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A Nasty Election Season Finally Ends

“Politician” was never high on the list of most trusted professions, with deceit almost a requirement for the job. But the lying, dirty tricks and scare tactics over the past few months have been so extreme it might be amusing if it wasn’t so horrifying.

Of course, President Fearmonger launched the festivities with his caravan-gone-wild schtick. Pulling a perverse Paul Revere routine, Trump cried, The invaders are coming! Thousands of angry aliens from Central America, including gang members and “Middle Easterners!” They’re coming for us, and have cunningly timed it around Election Day!

Actually, this desperate group of asylum seekers won’t arrive until the end of November, if any of them actually get here. Thousands have already dropped out.

“There is no invasion,” said Fox News anchor Shepard Smith, who eats alone in the Fox cafeteria. “No one is coming to get you.” Trump’s “invasion” scare coming right before the midterm election is “what all this is really about,” Smith noted.

When pressed by CNN’s Jim Acosta for proof that the exhausted group of refugees includes “unknown Middle Easterners,” Trump shrugged “There’s no proof of anything, but there could well be.”

Excuse me? Was that his thought process when Trump called Andrew Gillum, Florida’s Democratic, African-American candidate for governor, “a thief?” No proof, but it “could well be?” Sounds a lot like his claim in 2016 that “Lying Ted” (sorry, “Beautiful Ted”) Cruz’s dad may have been involved in killing President John F. Kennedy. Does the president regret smearing Cruz’s father as an assassin? “I don’t regret anything,” Trump told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins. “It all worked out very nicely.” Really? Not for Cruz’s dad!

But the president’s not the only one who seems to have been absent the day consciences were distributed. Two years ago, Long Island Republican congressman Lee Zeldin sent out a campaign mailer with the wrong deadline for voters to return absentee ballots. The campaign swore it was a mistake. Cut to 2018. Guess what Zeldin did again? Yep, sent out the wrong deadline, targeted to likely Democratic voters in his district. Fool me once, get my vote. Fool me twice, get my foot?

Anyway, did Trump’s fearmongering and blatant lies pay off Tuesday? Let’s see. The Democrats recaptured the House of Representatives, will hold Trump accountable for his excesses, and demand to see what he’s hiding in his tax returns. Robert Mueller’s findings will be taken seriously by at least one branch of government. And we still have a working democracy, with checks and balances.

I’ll take it.

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Bread and Circuses and Mega Millions and Powerball

What a week of lottery madness! Just days after someone won Mega Millions for $1.6 billion, two people split a $688 million Powerball jackpot, with one of those tickets sold right here in New York, at a Harlem deli. What are the odds?

People need something to take their minds off their and our nation’s troubles. When is it ever wrong to dream? How about when you’re being scammed?

Government run lotteries started with a noble sales pitch—this cash bonanza would provide extra funding for our children’s education. Before long, many states began sliding the windfall into their general budget, and education across the nation is now more underfunded than ever. Surprise!

Meanwhile, the odds of you winning the jackpots have become slimmer and slimmer. To put it in perspective, you are three times more likely to get killed by a vending machine, according to FoxNews.com.

But say you’re the sole winner of Mega Millions. Hooray! If you take a lump sum, you don’t get 100% of the jackpot. The government immediately grabs 37% of your winnings. But wait, there’s more. After that, you’ll pay additional taxes!

Those running the lottery know people flock to buy tickets when the big prize is astronomical. Unfortunately, they have made it even more difficult to win by increasing the number of balls in play.

On the plus side, the lottery gives people a chance to sound generous without actually doing anything. A friend told me “If I win the jackpot, I’m going to give you $100,000 dollars.” Am I supposed to say thank you? Statistically, he has as much chance of winning as I do__and I don’t play. Gee thanks, Kevin!

In addition, it distracts people from how our nation has descended into primitive tribal warfare. The Romans called this distraction “bread and circuses.” In 2018, it’s stuffed crust pizza and jumbo jackpots.

But someone’s got to win, so maybe I’ll buy a ticket for Saturday’s Powerball drawing. At the rate things are spinning out of control on this planet, if I win the jackpot (minus taxes), I’m renting Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket and flying off to the moon. Come with me. I’ll even pay your expenses with my winnings. You’re welcome!

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Coming Soon: Six Days of Horror?

Can you feel the building excitement mixed with dread? Boo! The scariest day of the year is fast approaching. People put on costumes and masks, and we wonder who they really are underneath.

Halloween? No, I’m talking about Election Day!

While Halloween will deliver ghouls, goblins and nasty pranks next week, it doesn’t hold a candle to what could happen six days later. Yes, if you don’t give some twisted treat-or-treaters what they want, they may egg your house or even leave flaming dog poop on your doorstep. But that pales compared with the potential horror show to follow if many choose to stay home on Nov. 6. Republicans will continue to own all three branches of government, and there will be absolutely no check on our president’s worst impulses. Boo!

Trick or treat? What do you fear most? Do Halloween slasher films make you tremble? Or perhaps slashing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits to pay for tax cuts for the ultrarich?

Treat or trick? Republican candidates nationwide are running ads saying they would work hard to safeguard Americans with pre-existing health issues. But Democrats claim it’s a nasty trick, that many running the ads are the same politicians who voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which protects those with such conditions, offering only vague substitute plans. Boo!

Many of the best-selling Halloween costumes this year reflect the times. Donald Trump hair and masks, purchased by those who both love and hate him. Girl power costumes, “Black Panther” costumes, even Brett Kavanaugh masks. Hmm, who is that meant to scare?

The irony is thick on Halloween: Those in grotesque masks mocking the president also wearing MAGA hats — which only go to benefit Trump’s re-election campaign. Young women wearing “girl power” outfits who never bothered to register to vote.

Both these holidays can indeed be frightening. Boo, I’m a monster! Give me treats or face dire consequences! Boo, I’m a politician! Entrust me with your money, and I’ll make sure it ends up in the right hands: mine and my benefactors!

So absolutely, go out in your cool costume on Halloween and party. But if you don’t vote six days later, don’t whine when the trick is on you. Boo!

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Democrats Bring a Pillow to a Gunfight

It’s always preferable to take the high road, and Michelle Obama’s statement, “When they go low, we go high,” is admirable. But in real life, when someone fights dirty and you don’t, you’re in big trouble.

Going for the jugular is not in the Democratic Party’s DNA. Despite that, cynical Republicans accuse them of fomenting “mob rule.” For a party led by a president who, among other things, encouraged an angry crowd at a rally to “knock the crap” out of a protester and still leads furious chants of “Lock her up!,” that’s the definition of chutzpah.

In truth, Democrats have a history of wimping out when aggressive stances were called for. After paid GOP operatives caused a near riot outside a Miami counting room after the 2000 presidential election, disrupting a vote recount and helping George W. Bush eke out a questionable victory over Al Gore, Democrats responded by meekly conceding. When John Kerry ran for president against Bush four years later, Republicans made a calculated decision to smear the war hero and Purple Heart winner.

When Bush challenged Kerry’s war record during a presidential debate, Kerry should have replied: “I was in Vietnam fighting for my country while you were a male cheerleader. How dare you!” Instead, Kerry went into a mealy mouthed defense of his record, and it was curtains.

Donald Trump famously said he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” Since then, he has said worse, from siding with Russia’s Vladimir Putin over U.S. intelligence to expressing his love for murderous North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. If Barack Obama acted this way, furious Republicans would have surrounded the White House, demanding he leave.

But that’s not the way Democrats roll. Despite the specious allegations of “mob rule,” party leaders are still more likely to ring Trump’s doorbell and run.

The majority of Americans agree with Democrats on the real issues, including providing adequate health care, dealing with climate change and passing sane gun laws. But if they let Republicans bait them into sideshows and don’t respond forcefully, Nov. 6 could well be another Democratic disaster.

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PC Fake Outrage Reaches a New Low

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new fake outrage PC champion.

The NY Daily News defamed TBS baseball commentator and former NY Mets great Ron Darling this weekend with the ridiculous headline “Ron Darling Uses Slur in Reference to Masahiro Tanaka.”

Uhm, no he didn’t.

Calling the Yankees-Boston Red Sox game Saturday night, Darling noted the Yankee pitcher was losing his control, observing a “chink in the armor for Tanaka here.”

But the Daily News writer (no byline given, lucky for him or her) said “bonehead” Darling “used a racial slur.” Seriously?

According to The American Heritage Idioms Dictionary, “chink in one’s armor” means a crack or gap in a vulnerable area. The term “chink” has also been used as a racial slur against Chinese people. Which do you think Darling meant?

Hint: Tanaka is Japanese, not Chinese.

Hint #2: The only one with any Chinese ancestry in this story is Ron Darling himself, whose mother is Chinese.

Obviously, the Yale educated Darling was using the expression in the proper way, not as a slur against Tanaka. But perhaps the writer lumps all Asians together?

Darling was ludicrously forced to issue an apology, saying “Earlier tonight I used an expression referencing Masahiro Tanaka’s pitching performance. While unintentional, I apologize for my choice of words.”

Why bother, Ron? To save his job, that’s why. Don’t believe it? Ask former ESPN tennis analyst Doug Adler, who noted Serena Williams using a “guerrilla effect” during the Australian Open in January 2017, which means moving in and charging the net. But some thought Adler was calling Williams a gorilla. And so ESPN fired him.

Adler filed a wrongful termination suit against the network, which claims that “guerrilla tennis” is a known term in the sport and was the name of a Nike TV ad in the 1990s. Adler’s trial begins Monday, October 15th.

Slurs against any group are hurtful and inexcusable, and we currently have more hateful, bigoted remarks expressed in our nation than I have seen in my lifetime. But false, ignorant accusations of racism only makes people cynical when real hate rears its ugly head.

Bigoted slurs are inexcusable. But the only one slurred in this sorry episode is Ron Darling.

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