Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Monday, October 24, 2016

The message of television as metaphor is not only that all the world is a stage, but that the stage is located in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

So I see candidate Donald Trump and former governor Sarah Palin are complaining about “political correctness,” the supposedly liberal sin of being too polite to tell the unvarnished truth. I too have always laughed at the follies of self-styled “radical” left-wing professors.

My all-time favorite was the time a UMass Amherst English professor commiserated that an “aristocratic Southerner” like me must find the campus’s multicultural environment challenging. I was maybe 28, an Irish guy from Elizabeth, New Jersey, a city that makes Amherst look like a country club Mitt Romney might join.

OK, so I did have a degree from the University of Virginia, and a cute Arkansas wife whom some of my colleagues patronized to her face. Extreme ethnic sensitivity and comical misjudgments — the Irish aren’t exactly rare in Massachusetts, and saying “y’all” hardly indicates KKK sympathies — were regular features of campus life. We plotted an early escape.

So when I tell my wife Diane that students at Columbia University have petitioned for “trigger” warnings on Ovid’s Metamorphoses because the god Jupiter — a sort of first-century Donald Trump — goes around disguised as a bull or a swan raping virgins, she laughs.

“They’re all Amherst now, aren’t they?” she says.

Needless to say, there’s also plenty of stupidity on the right. ESPN commentator Curt Schilling recently got suspended for a foolish tweet equating Muslims with Nazis. This aroused former governor Palin, who decried what she called a “JOURNALISTIC EMBARRASSMENT” and urged ESPN to get back to “our beloved sports.”

Which was exactly what the network was trying to do. Why Schilling, a terrific pitcher and a fine baseball analyst, chose to inject ISIS and the Third Reich into the Little League World Series, for heaven’s sake, remains unclear.

But let’s go to the numbers. Schilling’s ostensible point was that “only 7 percent of Germans were Nazis…while it’s said only 5 to 10 percent of Muslims are extremists.” Evidently he’s unaware that Adolf Hitler was elected, which makes the 7 percent figure awfully suspect. No doubt with the votes of a lot of people named Schilling. It’s a relatively common German name. Chances are that quite a few “Kurt Schillings” served in Hitler’s armies.

You see, if you start messing around with collective guilt and cheap historical analogies, there’s no telling where things might end up.

Even so, I hope ESPN brings the big dope back. They only pay him to be smart about baseball.

Sarah Palin also griped during her recent TV interview with candidate Trump that politically correct “lamestream” reporters keep asking him “gotcha” questions: “For instance, they [sic] asking what’s your favorite Bible verse, and I listened to that going, ‘What?’ Do they ask Hillary that? What does it have to do with running for the office of the presidency?” 

Well, maybe nothing. Except, of course, Trump was going around giving thumbs- up gestures and saying stuff like “the Bible, number one, right?” He really does appear to think the average GOP voter has a single-digit IQ.

But for the record, the late Tim Russert famously asked all the Democratic candidates to cite their favorite Bible verses during a nationally televised 2007 debate. Hillary said the Golden Rule, then-senator Obama cited the Sermon on the Mount. Nobody mentioned The Art of the Deal.

You definitely get the idea, though, that on the day the SS Trump sails into an iceberg, The Donald will be the first one in the lifeboats. Comforting the poor and afflicted doesn’t appear to be high on his to-do list. I mean, here’s a guy who made his fortune building casinos and luxury hotels where ordinary stiffs can gamble their money away, while guys like him party with hookers in the Penthouse Suite.

Only top hookers though; no slumming for Trump.

At least he resisted informing former Gov. Palin that she’s no longer a 10. He did say that to Austrian “supermodel” Heidi Klum recently, who mocked him with a T-shirt reading 9.9. I don’t know how she resisted challenging him to a bathing suit contest. A 69-year-old guy with a good tailor and a physique like a bowling pin definitely needs to keep his clothes on.

I’m sure “Silicon Barbie,” the lovely third Mrs. Trump, who’s taken her own clothing off for half the magazine photographers in New York, could tell you all about that. But she’s pretty much got a mute button.

Have I given offense? Oh, I do hope so.

My point’s quite simple: Trump’s whole New York loudmouth act, the presidential candidate as braggart professional wrestler, only lasts as long as everybody else acts, well, politically correct.

Change the rules, and there’s no telling what could happen.

Photo: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures and declares “You’re fired!” at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, June 17, 2015.  REUTERS/Dominick Reuter 

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Copyright 2015 The National Memo
  • Dominick Vila

    As bizarre as his “solutions” to legitimate problems are, the most offensive part of his discourse is the tone, arrogance, narcissism, and vulgarity of his speech and mannerisms, not to mention the fact that he is convinced mainstream Americans can be manipulated using immature stunts worthy of a high school bully.

    • charleo1

      Well said!

    • FireBaron

      Dominick, add in Carney Side-show Barker and you have completed the image. However, I don’t think he is worthy of being a high school bully. Maybe an elementary schoolyard bully, but not mature enough for High School.

  • terry b

    Lets never forget that Palin will always be known as being the dumbest person to ever have run for the vice presidency. Dan Quayle loves having that title stripped from him!

  • bobnstuff

    I find funny that the same people who will complain about the lack of manners in our young people support Trump.

  • charleo1

    The term politically incorrect, has two separate, and quit different meanings. When used by loudmouthed Wingers, as an excuse to be boorish, racist, insulting, or all of the above. In order to demonstrate to those who revel in that kind of thing, that they are unafraid to confront the lying Liberals, the intellectual elitist, or the thin skinned, namby pambys in this Country. And ether out of love for Country, or simply because somebody needed to finally “grow a pair,” and say it. It’s wildly cheered on the Right, as a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stilted, and as many on the radical Right perceive it, intentionally deceitful political discourse to mask a larger truth, i.e. “Immigrants are being sent by the Mexican Gov. bringing in disease, crime, rapists, and…” So politically incorrect is a way i the Right Wing World, to tell a larger truth. That is, until it becomes nothing more than a thinly veiled ruse for what amounts to no more than in your face White Conservative identity politics. Then it’s here that the term, “politically incorrect,” takes on it’s second, and irrefutable definition of political incorrectness. In that it is incorrect, politically speaking, to assume one may disrespect, marginalize, scapegoat, or otherwise unfairly demonize an entire demographical group of people, and then expect them to vote in any sufficient numbers in support of your goal to be elected. Or, to stupidly somehow believe on one theory or another, that voicing one’s disdain for this group will not incentivize those who would not have ordinarily been paying attention, to sign up especially with the intent in mind to vote for your opponent.

    • Dominick Vila

      What the Donald is hoping to get is the vote of every racist in the country. The alleged concerns over legal matters is nothing more than a very thin veneer to hide the real objective of the proposed mass deportations, punishing children because their parents broke a law that should have been changed many years ago. They are not interested in deporting illegals, they are interested in deporting every Hispanic-Latino regardless of how long their ancestors lived in what we now know as the United States of America. Ethnic cleansing is not new or unprecedented. It has happened throughout the course of history, and more recently in Germany during the Third Reich, in Bosnia Herzegovina, and in several African and Asian countries. It will not work, most Americans don’t support things like that, and are either benefiting from ethnic and cultural diversity, or see it as a positive element in our ability to grow as a nation.
      I suspect that people like Trump and Christie are well aware of that fact, but they also know that the only way to win the nomination of the GOP is to appeal to the most radical wing of that party, and that is exactly what they are doing.

      • Wedge Shot

        There may be a large quantity of racists, low IQ people and bigots in this country but there is not enough to elect someone like Trump President. Maybe I am naive but I don’t think so.
        Most people are politically in the middle section of politics and want a President that represents them in a dignified manner. Most want a President that takes the high ground and does not stoop to name calling, radical policies like deporting 11 million men, women and children and insulting women in general.
        Trump and Carson are distorting the Republican primaries and will, like Herman Cain, fade out. Politics is the art of the deal and Trump thinks his money isolates him from people of power. He will find out differently very soon.

        • Dominick Vila

          I agree. I think Jeb is on to something when he decided to use Trump’s statements on abortion and healthcare as part of his electioneering tactics. The far right may be anti-establishment, but that does not mean they have changed their minds on those subjects. Their reaction when they hear their idol’s comments is not going to be what Donald expected.

          • Irishgrammy

            I really wonder Dominick….Am beginning to believe the far right’s racism and bigotry seems far more important to them as they demonstrate their glee when ever The Donald goes after Mexicans, Muslims and before long am sure he will get down to including Blacks( if past is prolog) in his growing list of scapegoats to blame all that is wrong in America, I always wonder just what the far right really expects and want the ultimate outcome of their hate to be, the deportation of every brown, black and/or ethnically discernible human being living in the United States, what about Native Americans, are they to be the new low paid labor/slaves…….or are the Native American to be shipped back to Asia across the Bering Sea…..How odd, the White race is the MINORITY race in the world, and yet they have been the more oppressive in so many instances for centuries, and at the same time there have been great moments of sublime decency and equity and actual progress to wisdom, civility and acceptance……..unfortunately with Donald Trump we are seeing the ugly underbelly of the very worst of SOME American’s human nature!!!

          • kalpal

            Once the pope split the world between Spain and Portugal everything went to hell in a hand basket. The notion that a European can land on a shore, plant a flag and declare everything to be the property of his king is a silly notion but it was deemed credible by Europeans.

          • Dominick Vila

            The Treaty of Tordesillas, signed in 1494 with the blessings of Pope Alexander VI, did divide all the lands found and conquered after Columbus “discovered” America in 1492 between Spain and Portugal. Thee rationale was based on the fact that those were the dominant European powers, and discoverers, in that era. Needless to say, the Church of England, and the British monarchy, did not sit idle and followed suit.
            There have been many bizarre decisions in the course of history. Since there is nothing we can do to change them, and since the only benefit from those decisions is that they serve as a lessons learned, the best thing to do is to consider them in the context of the times when they were enacted, and the mentality and values that prevailed in those days.

          • kalpal

            I accept the arrogance of Europeans, baseless as it was, to be the sleaziest option available. The Europeans who lost their crusades of looting and rapine in the middle east tried to redeem themselves when they found someone who was unable to raise large armies to fight back. They stole massively but frittered it away. Both Spain and Portugal slunk into poverty and irrelevance as time passed on.

          • Dominick Vila

            Unfortunately, a lot of people have not learned much from history, and the same calamities that we should avoid continue to be apparent to this day.

          • kalpal

            Humanity has refused to learn anything from its past mistakes. Not a single educational institution on this planet spends any significant time teaching all about errors, gross and minor, and how they came to be repeated.

          • Joan

            Every time I am forced by “the liberal lame stream media” to listen to the Donald; I ponder just how much damage he is doing to the Republican Party. How many election cycles will it take for them to win back women, Latinos and practically any other minority group? I would be very interested on your take on the repercussions of Donald as party front runner.

          • kalpal

            The FOX “Lame Stream Media” gets on my nerves also. I wonder why they are doing to the GOP what they have always done to the Democrats? Has Roger Ailes become a liberal?

            Fox Ailes this nation.

          • Dominick Vila

            Barring some unexpected development, I think the Republican party nomination is for Trump to lose. What remains to be seen is how much support he gets from mainstream Americans in a national election. Over 90% of African Americans support Democratic candidates. 89% of Hispanics-Latinos support Democratic candidates. A majority of women, and Americans under the age of 30 do too. This leaves only middle aged and elderly whites, mostly males, for the GOP to rely on, and since not all of them support Republican policies, let alone an immature, greedy, narcissistic, and irresponsible candidate like Trump, things are not looking very promising for them. I expect them to keep control of the House and the Senate, but I don’t think they have a chance to win the White House, regardless of whether our candidate is Hillary, Joe, or Bernie.
            A lot of Americans are frustrated and disappointed with the performance of our government, but that does not mean we are crazy.

          • Dominick Vila

            I couldn’t agree with you more. I suspect the support that Trump is getting is the result of prejudices that have existed since the early beginning of mankind, and that are not going to go away any time soon. Ethnic and cultural hatred, and outrageous statements such as those we hear from Trump, have happened before every time there was a major migratory movement, and the indigenous population felt threatened, either physically or because of changes they are unwilling to accept.
            Another facet of this is that The Donald knows how to take advantage of human weaknesses and emotions to get what he wants. He is articulating what a segment of the Republican party wants to hear, and they are taking the bait. I can’t help wondering how the sheep will react when they learn that Trump supports abortion, universal healthcare, and other policy or social issues the GOP loathes.

          • jmprint

            Well said.

          • Wedge Shot

            I want to add one more point and that is after Trump has gone after just about every group in the US, the groups that make the US what it is who, other than the far right bigots and racists, will be left to vote for him? The Republican party is not going to commit suicide and allow Trump to get the nomination..

    • winsmith

      I don’t know if you could be more wrong. There are things that are wrong, but in some cases (too many to name) people have become thin skinned. Political Correctness has it’s roots in the USSR and makes society inconsistent on free speech.
      Although what Trump said was wrong, he could have phrased it better. The Mexican government through PSA’s and published manuals instructs their people (criminals or not) how to get across the border and gives them a guide of state programs to go on.

      • charleo1

        As to your question, if I could be more wrong? The answer is sure. I have been wrong worse a lot of times. Just not this time. Political correctness has nothing to do with anyone’s Constitutional Right to free speech. Take Hank Williams Jr. He said on national television he thought Obama was like Hitler, or, I think he said, was Hitler. Fine as far as that goes. If that’s the way he feels, there’s no one ever going to come and lock him up for have such an opinion, and saying so. However, when the NFL discontinued it’s relationship with the entertainer over the comment, it was widely viewed among those on the Right, as Williams being punished for exercising his 1st Amend. Rights. For being politically incorrect. And you may feel this way. But you would be wrong of course. One can besmirch anyone, or anything. The Flag, the troops, the President, Mothers in general. But they had better be prepared for the blowback with something besides their Constitutional Rights to protect them. Not from the government, but from a disagreeing society in which they live. Civility is not, I repeat not, a Communist plot. Unless just plain common courtesy, and gentility, is also such a plot. Now Donald Trump is absolutely welcome to be as politically incorrect as he pleases. But he shouldn’t count on all those voters he makes happy by doing so, to offset all those others he alginates. He makes a mockery out of the process, and some, perhaps mad at the process, applauds. While the majority might choose to envision what such a man elected to represent all the people. Being at once so out of control of his own tongue, as to disrespect, this ethic group here, or malign those people over there, might say when it counted, When spoke for The United States of America.

  • bobsog

    A growing number of Americans are sick and tired of establishment politicians that are typically bought and paid for by the elites – which is why Trump is doing so well in the polls.
    Trump refuses to and doesn’t need to be bought. This allows him the opportunity to actually speak the truth – as offensive as it may be to some people – with no strings attached.
    I find Trump’s political incorrectness (honesty) quite refreshing. Although he is a bit arrogant, of the other choices (Hillary, Sanders, Bush – God help our country if any of them get elected…), he is by FAR the best candidate we have had to choose from in quite some time.
    FYI – I am NOT a republican.

    • jmprint

      God help us if Trump gets elected. US will be more like the USSR.

      • kalpal

        Are you opposed to dictatorships by some chance?

    • kalpal

      And yet Trump will not ever be a GOP candidate because he can’t afford a job that pays as little as the presidency does.

    • The lucky one

      Trump is a “bit” arrogant? Like the sun is a bit hot.

    • oldtack

      Trump has done something that has needs to be done for the past 70 years. He has stripped the facade for the politicians and revealed.them as they are – just high priced whores that have sold their loyalty to whomever pays for their loyalty and yields to their bidding.

      It is a sad reflection on the intent of the positions they occupy in our Government. This started in the later part of Trumans’ tenure and has steadily grown in size since then.

      We the people are supposed to have Representatives that represent us in Washington. What a laugh. They represent those that bought them and they will do any thing ot ensure they maintain their coveted positions.

      I’m not a Trump supporter and I don’t think he will survive the final cut but he sure has made all aware of what rotten SOB’s pose as our Leaders.

  • Andrew Armstrong

    Schilling’s ostensible point was that “only 7 percent of Germans were Nazis…while it’s said only 5 to 10 percent of Muslims are extremists.”

    There was 30-35 million Germans preWW2. There is 1 billion plus Muslims. Do the math and tell me who the greater number is.

  • patrick g van meter

    Have a nice day Trump. Its just about over. I would not have thought such a good businessman would have wasted so much money. But then again there were a few bankruptcys along the way. At least you are familiar with losing.

  • Otto Greif

    It’s funny reading a Clinton suck-up complain about guys partying with hookers.

  • Otto Greif

    Paid Clinton shill Gene Lyons is upset about things Trump said about a model, has no problem with Clinton’s people smearing and intimidating women who Bill cheated with.

    • kalpal

      So Trump only besmirched a single model? Oh my, my memory must be playing me false. Has Trump ever passe an opportunity to besmirch anyone who opposed him? Trump is the besmirching king and you Otto are a blithering nincompoop.

  • kalpal

    Anyone who tells the unvarnished truth about America’s RW is heavily penalized. Can anyone post an instance when the RW did not viciously respond to someone telling the truth obscured by RW lies?

  • Nancy Lyttle

    There is Political Correctness and THEN, there’s Donald Trump’s Boorish, Crude, UNNECESSARILY Vile, abuse of ANYONE who disagrees with him. Just because he has money doesn’t mean he is Competent, Intelligent or Moral! He is an Embarrassment to Humanity and I find it chilling and Horrifying that the ReTHUGlicans are comfortable with HIM as their Front Runner. Dwight Eisenhower is Spinning in his grave, along with Abraham Lincoln, at the mere thought that THIS is the best the Party has to offer in 2016! For ALL the abuse that he heaps on Latinos, WHY, then have his Signature Line of clothing made in Mexico? His blatant disregard for anyone who isn’t HIM is appalling! I pray to be LONG gone if he should ever get within arms reach of the Oval Office. Bush’s ignorance was difficult to endure but Trump’s arrogance as well as his ignorance of ALL things that DON’T revolve around him, is DANGEROUS! To Kalpal: The ReTHUGlicans learned well and LONG ago that if they repeat their lies often enough, they will take root and be believed by the Masses of Americans who get their “News” from Fox and believe what they WANT to believe if it agrees with their particular brand of ignorance.

  • Böcker

    Trump cheats on his wives, cheats at golf, and cheats at business by filing bankruptcy then claims only the bank will pay for this, you ahole, they pass the costs on to their customers you jackhole!