What ‘SNL’ got wrong in its Spicer satire

Sean Spicer and actress Melissa Mccarthy as “Spicey”. Image: http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.3345475.1500661053!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_750/trump.jpg

By: Dean Obeidallah

(CNN) – Thanks to “Saturday Night Live,’ we have two versions of Sean Spicer. There’s the sympathetic one who Melissa McCarthy plays hilariously on the late-night show. And then there’s the Spicer who has defended many of Donald Trump’s outrageous claims with false statements and outright lies.

The problem is that the “SNL” version made Spicer far more endearing than he actually is. And this gives us a sense of the power of political comedy. Comedy can be used to make us laugh while reminding us of a politician’s transgressions. But the risk is that comedy can make a flawed political figure seem sympathetic and even help us overlook his misconduct.

Just look at the reactions when Spicer announced his resignation as press secretary on Friday. Democratic Rep. Pramila Jaypal tweeted, “Huge blow for “SNL.” Farewell, Sean Spicer.” Journalist and CNN contributor April Ryan, who had battled with Spicer in the past tweeted, “It is over no more Melissa McCarthy!” While actor Zach Braff wrote on Twitter “actual footage of Sean Spicer” and shared a clip of McCarthy looking forlorn on the streets of New York.

Don’t get me wrong — I had a similar reaction to the news of his resignation. But if McCarthy and “SNL” had not depicted Spicer in the fashion they had, do you think we would’ve seen such a strong reaction?

Instead, many of us would have responded the way The New York Times “eulogized” Spicer on Saturday — as the person who began by lying on day one as the White House spokesperson and only continued from there.

As a reminder, Spicer lied to us at his very first press conference after Trump was sworn in, defending Trump’s baseless claims about the size of the inauguration crowd. Spicer emphatically declared, “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period.” But, as the fact checkers at the Washington Post put it, “This is an appalling performance by the new press secretary,” as he made “a series of false and misleading claims in service of a relatively minor issue.” They concluded Spicer’s statements that day earned him the maximum four Pinocchios but added, “we wish we could give five.”

And we can’t forget Spicer defending Trump’s fact free claims of mass voter fraud by making up sources to help Trump cope with losing the popular vote. At the January 25 press conference, Spicer claimed that a 2008 Pew poll “showed 14% of people who voted were noncitizens.” However, the nonpartisan Politifact dubbed that statement false since the Pew poll “makes no mention of noncitizens voting or registering to vote.

And the list goes on of Spicer’s outlandish statements in defense of Trump — from his remark that Adolf Hitler “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons” in an effort to gin up support for Trump’s bombing of Syria to false statements about the role Paul Manafort played in the campaign in an effort to help distance Trump from his former campaign manager.

But, for many, McCarthy’s wildly popular depiction of “Spicey” as a likable bumbling character has come to define the former press secretary. In fact, the last time we saw McCarthy as Spicer on “SNL” in May makes this very point. While “Spicey” was defending a Trump lie, one reporter asked isn’t there a chance Trump is lying to you, to which McCarthy sympathetically responded, “he wouldn’t do that, he’s my friend.”

“Spicey” then headed off to confront Trump, played by Alec Baldwin, demanding to know if Trump ever lied to him. Baldwin replied, “Only since you started working here.” Through comedy, “SNL” had erased Spicer’s moral culpability for lying to us by making it all Trump’s fault.

In contrast and thankfully, however, “SNL” has been careful not to forgive Trump’s transgressions. In fact, in that same “SNL” sketch, Baldwin tells McCarthy to “kiss me.” “Spicey” responded, “I can’t — I have a wife and took vows.” “SNL” then reminded us of Trump’s vile comments on the Access Hollywood bus when Baldwin tells McCarthy, “I’m famous — it’s okay.”

In the time of Trump, comedy is playing a critical role in serving as both a cathartic release and source of empowerment for those who oppose Trump. But comedy shows must be aware that there’s a fine line between causing us to laugh at a political figure’s misconduct and minimizing them through comedy that makes him undeservedly likable.

Given the stakes, hopefully comedians will continue to use their skills to remind us of Trump’s misconduct and not turn him into an orange haired version of “Spicey.”

Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM’s radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @deanofcomedy. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his. For more on humor, watch CNN’s “The History of Comedy” Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT.



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Report: GOP operative probing Clinton e-mail took his own life in Minnesota

Peter Smith. Screenshot via Youtube. Image: http://static5.businessinsider.com/image/59680f2b552be5a7088b48c0-492/screen%20shot%202017-07-13%20at%2052325%20pm.png

CHICAGO (AP) — A published report says a former private equity adviser and Republican operative who died soon after telling The Wall Street Journal he tried during the 2016 presidential election to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails from Russian hackers killed himself.

The Chicago Tribune reported Thursday that according to death records from Olmsted County, Minnesota, 81-year-old Peter W. Smith killed himself in a hotel near the Mayo Clinic on May 14. The newspaper says a note from Smith found by police said he was taking his own life because of bad health and an expiring life insurance policy.

Smith’s death came about 10 days after the Journal said he granted an interview in which he claimed he tried to acquire emails missing from Clinton’s server.

Smith had lived in the Chicago suburb of Lake Forest. A former employee told the Tribune he thought Smith went to the Mayo Clinic for treatment of a heart condition.

In: wthr

Reasd also: businessinsider – Republican donor kills himslef after talking about working with Russian hackers to get Hillary Clinton’s emails

Abogado de Nadine Heredia señala que fallo judicial es “arbitrario y sin fundamento”

La medida restrictiva de la libertad fue dictada por el Juez Richard Concepción Carhuancho. Esta no es una pena, los ahora reos de la justicia impugnarán la decisión judicial dictada en su contra en un plazo de 15 días.


Wilfredo Pedraza consideró que ex primera dama y el ex presidente Ollanta Humala tendrían que ser internados en un lugar que garantice su seguridad

Wilfredo Pedraza, abogado de Nadine Heredia, criticó la decisión del juez Richard Concepción Carhuancho de ordenar 18 meses de prisión preventiva contra la ex primera dama y su esposo, el ex presidente Ollanta Humala. A su juicio, el magistrado ha emitido prácticamente “una condena”, no una resolución correspondiente a una primera instancia en el marco de la investigación preliminar.

Según consideró, el juez ha valorado elementos probatorios que no están en el expediente del caso de lavado de activos que se le sigue a la ex pareja presidencial. Por ejemplo, indicó, información referida al Caso Madre Mía.

“Nosotros vamos a hacer la evaluación en otro momento. De hecho, nos parece una decisión absolutamente arbitraria, carente de fundamento. Se ha esbozado una serie de elementos a título de excusa muy imprecisos”, manifestó.

Asimismo, consideró que evaluar la gravedad de los hechos corresponde a la etapa de juicio oral, pues se está recién en una investigación preliminar.

En declaraciones a la prensa, Pedraza insistió en que su defendida y el ex mandatario nunca pensaron en fugar. “El mensaje es: ellos no se fugan, nunca han tenido ese propósito y por eso se están poniendo a derecho a pesar de que eso supone el abandono de sus tres menores hijos. A pesar de haber cumplido todas y cada una de las reglas de conducta. De manera que quede bien clara la arbitrariedad”, refirió el abogado, que apeló la resolución judicial.

De otro lado, dijo esperar que Nadine Heredia y Ollanta Humala sean internados en un centro de reclusión donde no estén expuestos y garantice su seguridad.

“Nadie pide un privilegio, pero sí medidas razonables en un estado de derecho”, señaló.

En: elcomercio

John Oliver explains “the most influential media company that you’ve never heard of”

Sinclair Broadcast Group’s conservative bias, according to John Oliver.

John Oliver investigated the media company Sinclair Broadcast Group on the latest episode of Last Week Tonight, calling it “maybe the most influential media company that you’ve never heard of.”

The largest owner of local news stations in the country, Sinclair is finalizing a deal to acquire Tribune Media, making it an even larger force in local media. This is particularly important because of the company’s documented conservative lean.

As Vox’s Jeff Guo noted in his explainer on Sinclair, much of this conservative lean comes directly from company executives and not from a natural political environment in local areas:

For instance, over 80 Sinclair stations regularly air a 90-second segment called Behind the Headlines, where conservative commentator Mark Hyman gives his opinions on the news. In a recent spot, Hyman defended Trump’s first 100 days, claiming that the media was unfairly harsh on the president. In February, Hyman criticized the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for ruling against Trump’s travel ban on people from seven Muslim countries.

The company also produces national news segments — often with a conservative tinge — that it requires stations to run during their local news broadcasts.

A Washington Post investigation revealed that during 2016 election, Sinclair executives often forced their stations to run pro-Trump or anti-Clinton segments during their evening or morning local news programs. One of the mandatory segments emphasized problems about Clinton’s health and questioned her trustworthiness.Another mandatory segment featured Ivanka Trump talking about her potential role in her father’s White House.

Oliver mentions these mandatory Sinclair-produced segments, noting Hyman’s commentary as well as the daily “Terrorism News Desk,” which features pieces that just sometimes generally concern Muslims.

If the company was biased toward Trump during the election, then the hiring of people like Boris Epshteyn, a former Trump surrogate and White House staffer, as its chief political analyst earlier this year would only further such questions.

To emphasize Sinclair’s reach in light of the company’s upcoming acquisition, Oliver did the math, saying, “when you combine the most watched nightly newscasts on Sinclair and Tribune stations in some of their largest markets, you get an average total viewership of 2.2 million households, and that is a lot. It’s more than any current primetime show on Fox News. …”

After Sinclair’s acquisition of Tribune Media, Oliver worries that in this new local media environment, “there’ll be even more unsuspecting audience members who’ll be getting a heaping dose of Sinclair’s content, possibly without realizing it.”

In: vox 

Obsolescencia programada y Obsolescencia percibida

¿Te ha ocurrido en la vida que algunas veces compras un objeto con tanto deseo que luego de obtenerlo sientes que no te llena suficientemente en tu vida? Es algo normal ir perdiendo el interés por los objetos que adquirimos a lo largo de nuestra vida. Generalmente acuñamos un término informal a este comportamiento como es el de “desinterés”, sin embargo, ultimamente se ha denominado a este fenómeno del comportamiento humano como “Obsolescencia”, la cual puede ser de dos tipos: “Programada” y “Percibida”. Piensen en un par de zapatos. En el primer caso pueden dejar de utilizarlos porque ya cumplieron su vida util, mientras que en el segundo lo hacen por simple “moda”. Generalmente el concepto de “comodidad” no tiene mucho que ver con la idea de “obsolescencia”, salvo una cuestión extrínseca a ellos. A continuación se muestra un interesante post del arquitecto Amilcar G. Lopez, quien explica mejor esta relación que muchos tienen con los objetos que adquieren a lo largo de su vida.

Imagen: http://www.areatecnologia.com/imagenes/que-es-la-obsolescencia-programada.jpg

Por Arq. Amilcar G. López

Estos términos, suenan sofisticados pero su comprensión es esencial para que tomemos conciencia del grave problema que enfrenta la sociedad moderna y superpoblada con los residuos que genera.

Se denomina obsolescencia programada u obsolescencia planificada a la determinación o programación del fin de la vida útil de un producto o servicio, de modo tal que tras un período de tiempo calculado de antemano por el fabricante o por la empresa durante la fase de diseño de dicho producto o servicio, éste se torne obsoleto, no funcional, inútil o inservible.

En pocas palabras, los productos que obedecen esta premisa se fabrican para romperse premeditadamente en corto plazo y su reparación resulta dificultosa o anti-económica, lo cual motiva la conveniencia de comprar ese mismo producto nuevo y deshacerse del obsoleto.

Un claro ejemplo de ello son los productos electrónicos. El procedimiento suele ser el siguiente: uno de los aparatos electrónicos de uso habitual falla, entonces, cuando el dueño lo lleva a reparar, en el servicio técnico le advierten que resulta más rentable comprar uno nuevo que arreglarlo.

Claramente el objetivo de este plan es el lucro económico del fabricante o proveedor y la conservación del medio ambiente pasa a un segundo plano de prioridades.

Se denomina obsolescencia percibida a las modas, estas tendencias manipuladas por los fabricantes y distribuidores mediante los medios de difusión con la finalidad de que los productos que ofrecen se vuelvan obsoletos aún cuando se encuentren en perfecto estado de uso y conservación.

De esta manera quedan “socialmente mal vistos” el uso de objetos de otras temporadas, provocando que se desechen o, en el mejor de los casos, se archiven.

Por ejemplo los colores, las formas y los materiales de la ropa, autos, etc, que denotan la temporada de su adquisición. Esta modalidad de obsolescencia se puede aplicar a cualquier bien de uso.

Asimismo, los conceptos de obsolescencia programada y obsolescencia percibida se sumergen en una raíz aún más difícil de desentramar, como es la responsabilidad del consumidor al adquirir dichos objetos.

Estos conceptos deben difundirse masivamente para crear conciencia y responsabilidad ciudadana.

La esperanza radica en un cambio a nivel cultural, en el que debemos trabajar todos juntos diariamente para hacer sustentable y sostenible nuestra presencia en el planeta.

¿Te quedaron dudas? Envíame un correo a amilcarlopez @buenosaires.gob.ar

Arq. Amilcar G. López

Representante de la CABA en el Consejo Ejecutivo ACUMAR
Coord. Gral. de la Unidad de Proyectos Especiales Cuenca Matanza Riachuelo
Ministerio de Gobierno
Gobierno de la Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires

En: medium.com 

‘One Child,’ by Mei Fong

Feng Jianmei recovers from a forced abortion, 2012. Credit Katharina Hesse. Image: https://static01.nyt.com/images/2016/01/10/books/review/10PARKER/10PARKER-master768-v2.jpg

Readers would be forgiven for thinking that the announcement, on Oct. 29, 2015, that China was changing its one-child policy would have turned this book from an account of the daily lives of Chinese people into a work of history. Not so. The event itself came rather late for Mei Fong’s “One Child.” But she makes disconcertingly clear that the repercussions of population control will continue to reverberate throughout China. The policy itself remains a monument to official callousness, and Fong’s book pays moving testimony to the suffering and forbearance of its victims.

It is often assumed that the limitation to a single child was an act of Maoist despotism. In fact, as Fong shows, it was associated with the post-Mao opening. Deng Xiaoping, China’s leader after 1978, had set a target of quadrupling the country’s per capita national income by 2000. China’s planners decided that they could achieve this goal only if, in addition to increasing the size of the pie, there were fewer people to share it.

So they determined, in their words, to “adjust women’s average fertility rate in advance.” The man who ran the program that treated women as if they were production functions was a rocket scientist, Song Jian, who had worked on ballistic missiles. Song went on to help manage the giant Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River. His was a world in which unintended consequences were not important.

Population control was not unusual in the 1980s. India also had a fertility-­control program. The United Nations gave its first-ever population award to the Chinese minister for population planning in 1983 (along with Indira Gandhi). But China’s application of population control was particularly ruthless.

In 2012, Feng Jianmei, a factory worker pregnant with her second child, was taken to a clinic, forced to sign a document consenting to an abortion and injected with an abortifacient. She was in her seventh month. Pictures of her lying next to her perfectly formed seven-month dead fetus went viral. But hers was hardly an unusual case. In the 1990s, population targets became a major criterion for judging the performance of officials. It is no surprise that they carried out the one-child policy ruthlessly. Reading this account, one wonders why rape as a weapon of war is (rightly) seen as a war crime, whereas the forcible violation of women’s bodies in pursuit of government policy wins United Nations awards.

As Fong makes clear, the one-child policy was not just a crime. It was a blunder. Fertility would have fallen anyway, as happened in other Asian countries, albeit not quite so far and fast. But the policy further distorted sex ratios, resulting in more boys than girls. And it changed expectations: Most people now want only one child. That is why the policy may prove to be hard to reverse.

The greatest strength of Fong’s book is her reporting (she was a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal in China). Fong meets Liang Zhongtang, who fruitlessly attempted to dissuade China’s leaders from adopting the policy in the 1980s. She interviews people at adoption agencies that are suspected of seizing second children and selling them to Westerners. She sees Tough Pig, a boar that survived for 36 days without food or water under the rubble of a vast earthquake in Sichuan Province. The earthquake highlights how unexpected are the tragedies of China’s population policy: Thousands of only children were killed when shoddily built schools collapsed, leaving their stricken parents childless — a disaster in a country where the importance of family has survived even the one-child restrictions. Unlike the earthquake, that policy was — and remains — an unnatural disaster.

In: nytimes 

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