Stinging Barbs of Truth: Pun-ishing Would-Be Tyrants With Comedy

Ever notice one of the things missing from countries ruled by a dictatorship? It’s laughter, especially the type incited by sharp-tongued comics. Tyrants and would-be tyrants are notoriously thin skinned and do not suffer lightly the insolence of truth delivered with a knowing smirk. It threatens their image of absolute power, makes hollow their illogical rants and exposes their deceits for the world to see.

In a free society, politicians and celebrities expect to find themselves as fodder for jokes by stand up comics and show hosts across the spectrum. And, while some may not take it all graciously, most laugh at themselves along with us. That’s the American way. On the other hand, when the high and mighty start getting too high and mighty, comedy becomes the singular most important tool for bringing them down to earth … and hard reality.

Since the 2016 election, the political follies and excesses of the Trump administration and conservative Republicans have fueled volley after volley of well-justified and well-aimed comedic barbs, from show hosts that include Bill Maher, John Oliver, Seth Meyers, and, the focus of this blog, Stephen Colbert, host of Late Night with Stephen Colbert on CBS!

I admit to having become enamored with Colbert’s monologues as he has mercilessly carved up the ineptitude, arrogance and lies of Trump, his lackeys and conservative Republicans with razor-edged comedic barbs. And, while it has certainly gotten under the skin of Trump and his supporters, it has also catapulted the Late Show in the ratings. It’s required watching for me now.

So, it should come as no surprise that I stand in solid support of Stephen Colbert after last week’s big stink about his joke about Trump — “The only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c— holster.” The “obscene” word was bleeped out, but irate Trump supporters and others went ape-shit (NO Bleeps here), even calling his comment “homophobic” (an unbelievably bizarre comment for a conservative to make) and started a #FireColbert Twitter storm which was countered by variations of #LoveColbert and #KeepColbertFireTrump. Some went so far as to complain to the FCC, which under it’s Trump appointed chairman now stands for F*ck Consumers Commission. The commission reviews all complaints but has not opened an investigation so far.

What I find most annoying is that these same people have no complaints about the Rush Limbaughs who fill the airwaves with angry, idiotic falsehoods intended to hurt real people with real issues. Now that’s obscenity! But they will argue freedom of speech. Fine, so will I when it comes to Colbert!

What can you do? Two things. First, watch the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and drive up his ratings even further. (That shows your support and will certainly tick-off Trump!) Second, you can call CBS programming at 212-975-3247 and express your support for Stephen Colbert. (They have very short hours, but you can leave a voicemail!)

I should also mention that Speaker Paul Ryan’s office took exception with Seth Meyers featuring Ryan’s statements about rushing Obamacare through a vote and all his complaints about that as compared to the way the current version of the AHCA was rushed through passage in the House last week. (Apparently, they were bothered by the truth. That truth can be so damned inconvenient. You go, Seth!)

So, remember to keep laughing ’cause it totally pisses off would-be tyrants like Trump the First, or is that worst, or maybe it’s both. Take our president, PLEASE!

Comedy is a weapon of Freedom! Ready, Aim, Colbert!

The Divine Miss Bri 

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Transgender Day of Visibility: This Is Everyone’s Fight

March 31, 2017 is the International Transgender Day of Visibility!

This is a day when those of us who are transgendered (and those who support us) stand up to be counted and let those who can’t come out for fear of rejection and violence know that we support them. But more than that, we stand for the rights of all who live under threat because of who they are. Trans rights are about everyone’s rights and equality for all!

We are engaged in a fight for survival, folks, against the forces of darkness who masquerade as Christians while doing the work of the devil. They perpetuate a false narrative, born of ignorance, that being transgendered is an affront to their religion and that our very existence infringes on their religious freedom. Smugly secure in that ignorance, they paint us as sexual molesters and pedophiles when, in fact, they are far more likely to be one of these perverts than we are.

In a further example of hypocrisy, they accuse us of being the oppressors in wanting to force our views on them. Bulls–t!!! No one is forcing them to transition. No one is forcing them to deny their faith. Yet, they seem to think that’s it’s fine to make us live in accordance with their beliefs or be marginalized. AND THAT’S JUST WRONG!!! But they have amassed considerable right-wing support, which could lead to the passage of the misnamed First Amendment Defense Act that would codify into law anti-LGBTQ discrimination based on religious objections.

Passage of the First Amendment Defense Act would just be the first step in the far right’s campaign to marginalize religious and ethnic minorities. The more power they gain, the more they want. It won’t just stop with attacking the LGBTQ community, so our fight is everyone’s fight.

Our constitution starts with term “We the people …” and makes no distinction as to excluding any particular types or groups of people. The same applies to the Pledge of Allegiance term ” …with liberty and justice for all.” There’s no disclaimer attached excluding any particular groups. Of course, in practice, that has not always been the case, but we continue to make strides in realizing the truth of these terms. That’s progress. And we need to stand firm against any and every attempt to roll back the rights that been gained.

Jesus told us to “love thy neighbor.” He also told us to “render unto Caesar (i.e., the government) that which is Caesar’s.” That means, if the law says that you can’t discriminate against someone else because of religion (theirs or yours), gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc., then you don’t have a religious ground to stand on in refusing to comply. No one is requiring you to change your gender identity, sexual orientation or anything else. You’re just expected to publicly respect the rights of others. It’s a simple, universal concept.

Join our fight now, because if we don’t stand together, we’ll all fall one by one!

The Divine Miss Bri

 

 

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Trump’s War Against The Press Is A War Against Democracy

A month ago, I posted about the Trump administration’s war on the media and how important a free press is to preserving our democracy. (Read blog post here.) Now they’ve escalated their war by trying to restrict press coverage as a means of punishing news organizations they view as being “unfairly” critical of the administration and Trump in particular. And with that escalation, the Trump White House has taken a scary step toward censorship and dictatorial power.

Am I being overly dramatic and making a mountain out of a mole hill? Certainly, many of Trump’s ardent supporters and far right conservatives will say that I am. However, I would say that the threat implied by the administration’s latest action cannot be overstated enough!

Trump is constantly calling facts the fake news, similar to like Kellyanne Conway’s reference to “alternative facts”.

As an example, here’s an excerpt from the transcription of Trump’s speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference yesterday (Friday, 2/24/2017)

“They’re very dishonest people. In fact, in covering my comments, the dishonest media did not explain that I called the fake news the enemy of the people. The fake news. They dropped off the word ‘fake.’ And all of a sudden the story became the media is the enemy.

“They take the word ‘fake’ out. And now I’m saying, ‘Oh no, this is no good.’ But that’s the way they are.

“So I’m not against the media, I’m not against the press.

Ah, but here’s content of the actual “enemy of the people” tweet sent out by Trump and reported by the media with a link to it on Twitter for verification.

“The FAKE NEWS media (failing ‪@nytimes, ‪@NBCNews, ‪@ABC, ‪@CBS, ‪@CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

He is attacking the media by saying that the mainstream media is reporting fake news and are thus the enemy of the people. Of course, it is interesting that Trump and his handlers refer to anything that contradicts what they want us to believe as “Fake News”. Yet they embrace actual fake news sites like Breitbart.com, InfoWars.com, WND.com, etc.

So who is right? Well, when the real news media gets information from various sources that conflict with the official story being espoused by a government official or organization,  they are obligated to investigate and report the story. That is the role of a free press, whether the end result ends up corroborating or disproving the official version. In a democracy, a free press is the eyes and ears of the people. It is their role to assure our government is not hiding inconvenient truths from us.

It is not the media’s fault that Trump says things that are distortions or outright fabrications as shown when his statements are fact-checked for accuracy as they were by MSN in his address to CPAC. And, while we should have some healthy skepticism regarding what politicians tell us, especially when they’re campaigning for office, we should also have an expectation that they adhere to a higher ideal of honesty in their dealing with us once elected or appointed.

Essentially, it appears that the administration is engaged in a war on truth, one of the first principles of establishing a dictatorship. Trump wants people to believe his lies are truth and the real truth is lies. Folks, that is beyond scary and calls to mind the line from George Orwell’s eerily prescient novel 1984 about a dystopian society — “War Is Peace. Freedom Is Slavery. Ignorance Is Strength.”

So, what do we do? We must demand accountability from those who would represent us and those who seek to lead us. We must verify what we read by checking multiple sources and share the truth via every means possible. We must show up at town council meetings, public hearings, and town halls held by our representatives to Congress. Plus, we need to show up at the polls for every election.

Specifically, since the thrust of this administration’s attack involves what appears to be an attempt to cover up possible illegal and improper dealings with a foreign power (Russia), write or call your representative and senators and demand an investigation! It’s the only way we’ll know for sure!

“People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.” ―
Alan Moore, V for Vendetta

Let the R.A.I.N. wash away the lies and show us the truth!

The Divine Miss Bri

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Unholy Crusade: Religious Freedom Laws Seek To Destroy Liberty And Justice For All

Throughout time, one of the most persistent and disturbing trends in the history of our world has been the atrocities committed in the name of religion. So-called Christians, for instance, have a bloody history of violence and torture encompassing the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Salem Witch Trials, just to name of a few of the better known examples. It seems they have a burning passion to do harm to others who do not share their beliefs.

Espousing their deeply held religious beliefs, the conservatives of their time used them as an excuse to deny women’s rights, including the right to vote. And, in the South, Southern Baptists and other denominations justified slavery and racial segregation as sanctioned by God. Even the Ku Klux Klan considers itself to be following a Christian mission in perpetrating heinous acts of violence and discrimination against African-Americans and other minorities.

Fortunately, in America, we have worked to mostly remove discrimination from being encoded in our laws. And, while there is always more work to be done, we are closer to realizing the line from the Pledge of Allegiance that says “with liberty and justice for all.” Please note there is no (*) or exceptions listed after it.

Now, however, the modern day Pharisees of the Religious Right are trying to codify discrimination against women and members of the LGBTQ community under the guise of Religious Freedom laws. While these laws keep popping up in states with Republican controlled legislatures, an even more troubling event looms on the horizon with the release of the draft of an executive order that was proposed by some in the Trump administration — “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom.”

It has been reported that Trump’s daughter and son-in-law persuaded him not to sign it. At the same time, there are many in the administration who are pushing this type of order, including Mike Pence. This executive order and any similar laws or edicts represent a threat to the freedoms of all by unacceptably broadening the scope of legalized discrimination. It would allow virtually anyone  in business, medical practice or government to refuse to serve, treat, employ or in anyway assist a member of the LGBTQ community if it conflicted with their deeply held religious beliefs. It also broadens business exemptions from having to provide women with contraceptives through their insurance plans.

Under the First Amendment to the Constitution, it says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  Supporters of these new Religious Freedom laws are claiming that having to do business with the LGBTQ community or provide contraceptives to women prohibits the free exercise of their religion. Actually, they’ve got it backwards.

These so-called Religious Freedom laws are the ones that violate the First Amendment as well as the principles of a free and just society.

(1) Broadening the scope of application beyond actual religious institutions to businesses and individuals, with only a minimal or even tangential religious purpose, to allow discrimination against any segment of our population based on a religious belief, and especially one that is not universally shared, would in effect be unconstitutionally establishing a particular religion by giving it unique privileges and recognition.

(2) The free exercise of one’s religion is subject to certain limitations as are other rights. For example, while we have a right to free speech, we do not have the right to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater or to commit libel or slander because doing so adversely affects the rights of others. You could imagine what would happen if we allowed human sacrifices or witch burning as a free exercise of one’s religious beliefs. If we allow this discrimination, where does it stop? Will Religious Freedom laws be used against other religions, ethnic groups, racial groups? It’s a dangerous precedent. It should also be noted that there is nothing preventing anyone from believing whatever they choose or associating privately only with those who share their beliefs.

(3) The principles of equality and justice demand that the rights of everyone must be respected in the public marketplace and any limitations must be applied in the narrowest scope possible to prevent irreparable harm from discrimination. These Religious Freedom laws put an undue burden on women and members of the LGBTQ community, while threatening their health and safety with the potential to deny them vital services.

(4) Finally, those who seek to impose their “deeply held” religious beliefs on select groups based on their interpretation of the Bible seem to have missed the scriptures that say, “judge not … render unto Caesar … love thy neighbor … do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It makes you wonder whether their “religious beliefs” are simply an effort to justify their hatred for anyone who is different.

If I sound passionate about this subject, it is because I am a transwoman. Fortunately, my friends accept me and I live in a state where my rights are protected just like everyone else’s. However, in other places, members of the LGBTQ community face severe threats to their freedom and even their survival. We did not ask to be this way. We just are. I believe God made me who I am for a reason. All I want, and all we want, is to have the same rights EVERY citizen of our country should be entitled to enjoy. No more. No less.

Please stand up for us and true freedom by staying vigilant and making it known that you do not support religious tyranny and discrimination masquerading as religious freedom. To see what you can do, contact the A.C.L.U., the Human Rights Campaign, Freedom for All Americans or GLAAD today.

We must fight together, because no one is free until we’re all free to live without fear!

Let the R.A.I.N. wash away the lies and reveal the truth!

The Divine Miss Bri

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A Free Press — The Light of Truth

Well, after all the big ado about crowd size, alternative facts and Trump coming up short in the size department (just couldn’t resist because in this case size really does matter), the administration is for all intents and purposes waging a war against the freedom of the press. The latest salvo was fired by Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist and former head of Brietbart (ahem) News (that’s a real stretch), where facts are fiction or alternative facts.

Here’s a link to the story where he says the “News media should keep its mouth shut!”

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump’s-chief-strategist-says-news-media-should-‘keep-its-mouth-shut’/ar-AAmhL9O?li=BBnbcA1

As typical with conservatives, he called the news media the opposition party, elitist and the usual insults. The issue always seems to be that the far right version of the truth never quite jives with the real truth, which can be rather inconvenient, especially considering this disparity has been practically a constant with both Trump’s campaign and his administration. Of course, they rely on less than reliable sources for their “alternative” facts!

http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/26/media/infowars-alex-jones-donald-trump/index.html

As a former radio news director, anchor and reporter, I know how those in the spotlight like to spin the facts to their advantage. However, in my experience interviewing local politicians, state representatives, a governor and a former president, I have never seen anything to beat the obfuscation, misdirection, temper tantrums and general disrespect for the news media (and by proxy the public) shown by Trump and his ‘team”.

So maybe we should remind the current administration and its mouthpieces that the same constitution which the far right is always harping about includes a troublesome thing called the First Amendment.

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.

There are a bunch of inconvenient rights in there that Trump and the conservatives find terribly annoying. But more importantly the rights are a cornerstone of maintaining our liberties in a free society.

“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”  Thomas Jefferson

“Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy.”      Walter Cronkite

And this brings us back to the central point:

Without a free and independent media to investigate, fact check and verify what our government is saying and doing, we will be living in a dictatorship!

So whether you love them or hate them, be thankful that we have a free press! But again, make sure you carefully select and verify the media you choose to use to get your news. And yes there are both liberal and conservative outlets, although I find the major news networks (CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC) try to be as independent as possible.

In the end, it’s all about shining a light on the truth! And so Mr. Trump and associates, here’s a little something from Plato to think about.

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”  Plato

Stay observant and call out those who would hide the truth!

MAKE A DIFFERENCE TODAY!

Let the R.A.I.N. wash away the fog and expose the truth!

The Divine Miss Bri

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