Norman Lear, Kennedy Center Honoree, To Skip White House Reception In Protest

Norman Lear, a longtime progressive, and one of five Kennedy Center honorees, is protesting President Trump.

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The first Kennedy Center Honors of the Trump administration is already making waves after recipient Norman Lear announced he would be boycotting the White House reception ahead of the the awards.

I could never turn my back on the @kencen. It represents the Arts and Humanities which mean everything to me. Of course, I’m accepting…

— Norman Lear (@TheNormanLear) August 4, 2017

“As an artist and a human being, I cannot celebrate this incredible honor … at a White House that has no interest in supporting the Arts and Humanities,” the legendary television producer and writer tells NPR’s Elizabeth Blair.

President Trump has proposed eliminating the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, reports Blair.

…the honors. What I’m not accepting is the @WhiteHouse reception with @realDonaldTrump. https://t.co/yCxS3RxIr7

— Norman Lear (@TheNormanLear) August 4, 2017

But despite his opposition to Trump, Lear says he will accept the award.

In a pair of tweets posted Friday, Lear said, “I could never turn my back on the @kencen. It represents the Arts and Humanities which mean everything to me. Of course, I’m accepting the honors. What I’m not accepting is the @WhiteHouse reception with @realDonaldTrump.”

Lear produced such beloved 1970s sitcoms as The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son and One Day at a Time.

But it is his creation of Archie Bunker, from All in the Family, whom Lear has described as “a lovable bigot,” that perhaps still resonates most strongly. The character, played by Carroll O’Connor, delivering off-color zingers in New Yawkese might remind some of a certain figure occupying the Oval Office, reportsThe New York Times.

But Lear has said he believes Archie Bunker wouldn’t have even voted for Trump. Last year, the 95-year-old Lear told The Daily Beast:

“I think Donald Trump is shrewd in a way Archie never was … Archie Bunker was far wiser of heart. Sure, the thoughts he held were antediluvian. But Donald Trump is a thorough fool, having nothing to do with the shrewdness that has allowed him to cheat and steal the way he has for his own good. Underneath that, he is a fool.”

Lear — a longtime outspoken progressive — founded People For The American Way, a progressive advocacy group in 1981.

As The Times reports, the Kennedy Center Honors has for years been a time for recipients to put politics aside, as artists of all stripes have sat alongside Republican and Democratic Presidents. But celebrity has been intertwined with Trump — a onetime host of NBC’s The Apprentice — since the first day of his campaign.

For four decades the Kennedy Center Honors have been awarded to those “recognized for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts.”

Honorees traditionally join the president and first lady in the Presidential Box to watch tribute performances by various artists on stage at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, D.C.

The other recipients this year are: dancer and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade, singer-songwriter Gloria Estefan, hip hop artist LL Cool J and musician Lionel Richie.

Estefan, who was born in Cuba and came to the United States as a child, said she will attend the reception and use it as an opportunity to inform President Trump about the contributions immigrants have made to the country, reportsThe New York Times.

The Honors take place Dec. 3 and will be broadcast on Dec. 26.

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Northwestern Professor And Oxford Employee Arrested In Stabbing Death Of Chicago Man

Wyndham Lathem (left) and Andrew Warren were arrested Friday in California, in connection with the July stabbing death of a Chicago man.

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A Northwestern University professor and an Oxford University employee were arrested Friday in California in connection with the stabbing death of a Chicago man.

Wyndham Lathem, 42, an associate professor of microbiology at Northwestern, turned himself in at the Oakland, Calif., federal courthouse reportsThe Chicago Tribune, citing the U.S. Marshals Service. Andrew Warren, 56, also surrendered to police in neighboring San Francisco. Warren worked as a senior treasury assistant at Oxford’s Somerville College in the U.K.

pic.twitter.com/aFosojJ1fR

— Chicago Police (@Chicago_Police) August 5, 2017

“The U.S. Marshals in Oakland have been working throughout the week with the U.S. Marshals Service Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force and the Chicago Police Department,” said the U.S. Marshals Service in a statement.

A manhunt had been underway since July 27 when the body of Trenton Cornell-Duranleau was discovered inside Latham’s Chicago apartment says the Tribune. The 26-year-old had been stabbed multiple times.

Lathem and Warren are facing first-degree murder charges.

“Both individuals will be held accountable for their actions and we hope today’s arrest brings some small level of closure and justice for Trenton Cornell Duranleau’s family,” Chicago police tweeted Friday. “We are also thankful both men are safely in custody and this did not end in further tragedy.”

CPD can confirm that Prof Wyndham Lathem sent an apologetic video message to friends & family for involvement in murder of Trenton Cornell pic.twitter.com/8aOLX9K2kE

— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) August 4, 2017

Before his arrest, Lathem had sent a video message to friends and family apologizing “for involvement in murder of Trenton Cornell,” tweeted Anthony Guglielmi, chief communications officer for the Chicago Police Department.

In the video Lathem said he had made the biggest mistake of his life, reports The Tribune.

It was around 8:30 in the evening on July 27, when Chicago police said they found they found Cornell-Duranleau’s body with “several lacerations” after responding to a call requesting a well-being check.

The Tribune reports Latham’s 10th floor apartment on the city’s Near North Side was the scene of the crime:

“In the kitchen, police found a knife with a broken blade in the trash can and another knife near the sink. Blood was everywhere, the sources said.

“Police said they suspect Lathem fled with Warren. Both men were seen on surveillance video at the building, police said.”

Police said Cornell-Duranleau had been dead for several hours when they found him.

On the same day he was killed, but before his body was discovered, Lathem and Warren drove about 80 miles to Lake Geneva, Wis., Chicago Police tell The Associated Press. At the city’s public library, one of the men made a $1,000 donation in Cornell-Duranleau’s name.

Police say Lathem knew Cornell-Duranleau, who moved to Chicago from Michigan after receiving his cosmetology license, reports the AP. But what remains to be determined is how the two men knew Warren, or whether they knew Warren before he flew stateside from the U.K.

Lathem and Warren are awaiting extradition to Illinois.

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With His Back Against The Wall, Trump Again Turns To Grievance Politics

President Donald Trump, flanked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., left, and Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Wednesday during the unveiling of legislation that would place new limits on legal immigration.

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No single issue has been a greater animating force for the Republican base over the past decade than immigration — except maybe the Affordable Care
Act (a.k.a. Obamacare).

And with the failure of GOP health care efforts in Congress and sliding poll numbers this summer, the Trump White House seems to be making a concerted effort to elevate cultural wedge issues, from immigration and a announcing a ban on transgender people in the military to affirmative action and police conduct.

“Trump has been under siege since he took office,” said Brian Jones, a Republican political consultant and veteran of several presidential campaigns, “and the cumulative effect of his administration’s missteps is an eroding approval rating, even among Republicans.”

So Trump’s team is rolling the dice, betting that if he can’t get something done through the usual avenues in Washington, he can at least keep his base supporters fired up outside of it with a dose of the cultural grievance that helped get him elected.

When a president’s back is up against the wall, what he’s got left is his base. He can’t afford to lose his most ardent supporters, so, often, presidents go back to the embers they stoked to fire up those supporters in the first place — be they cultural or economic.

Wednesday, the Trump White House backed a hard-line immigration proposal that would significantly curtail legal immigration. The move came less than a week after the Senate health care bill went up in smoke — and on the heels of some other culture-war moves from the president.

Trump tweeted a call for a ban on transgender people in the military; the Justice Department put up a personnel posting attempting to staff an effort to sue for racial discrimination against Asian Americans in university admissions; and Trump suggested in a speech to police that they should be “rough” with certain suspects.

That is all red meat for his base — issues that have historically played to white grievance.

Out of the hot focus of the legislative and Russia investigation headlines, many of these issues have been there since the start of the Trump presidency. One of his first major efforts was the travel ban that targets people from six majority-Muslim countries. And the Justice Department is working to try to cut off funding to so-called sanctuary cities, as well as urging prosecutors to seek the toughest sentences possible for nonviolent drug offenders, reversing Obama-era policy.

“I assume they’re doing it because these are policies that the president believes will ‘make America great again,'” said Alex Conant, a former Republican National Committee spokesman and veteran political operative, who worked for Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign. “Politically, it could help him maintain a floor as his poll numbers continue to slide.”

And this week, Trump received the worst numbers of his presidency. A Quinnipiac poll had the president at just a 33 percent approval rating with Republican support slipping.

“Speak English”

“Speak English,” the president and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., one of the sponsors of the immigration legislation, said was one of their requirements for those who want to come to the United States. They also said these new — legal — immigrants had to have skills that could help the economy and that they had to be able to financially support themselves.

When confronted with the poem at the Statue of Liberty about welcoming the tired, huddled masses, White House policy adviser Stephen Miller told reporters, “The poem that you’re referring to — that was added later — is not actually a part of the original Statue of Liberty.”

The poem — The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus — was added in 1903, 17 years after Lady Liberty was dedicated. It was written by Lazarus 20 years earlier as part of a fundraiser for the statue. Lazarus was the daughter of a wealthy sugar refining family, but was taken with the plight of the immigrants and refugees with whom she worked. Her poem depicts the Statue of Liberty as the “Mother of Exiles.” Lazarus’ story and poem are featured by the National Park Service on its Statue of Liberty website.

The American immigration story for lots, if not most, is one of people coming to the U.S. with little more than the clothes on their backs “yearning to breathe free.” Many are escaping poverty or war or simply seeking a better life, a chance to live a middle-class existence for themselves and their children.

It’s the quintessential American Dream, that anyone can make it in the U.S.

The Trump administration argues that it is pushing forward with backing the legislation because it would be good for American jobs, especially for minorities already in the country, who cannot find work.

“Among those hit the hardest in recent years have been immigrants and, very importantly, minority workers competing for jobs against brand-new arrivals,” Trump said Wednesday in announcing his support for the bill. “And it has not been fair to our people, to our citizens, to our workers.”

That sentiment is real. Anecdotally, low-skilled laborers have traditionally been prone to skepticism toward new immigrants, who can be paid less. Businesses argue that Americans won’t take the more dangerous, laborious work.

NPR’s Amita Kelly fact checked the claim on Friday, finding mixed conclusions:

“Economists disagree whether or how much an influx of immigrants depresses wages. Some have found that new immigrants depress wages for certain groups, such as teenagers or workers with a high school diploma or less. Others say the overall effect on the economy is tiny, and an influx of immigrant workers vitalizes the economy overall.”

(Kelly also dove into the specific research cited by Miller, the White House policy adviser who has been pushing this issue for years going back to when he was an aide to Jeff Sessions when he was a senator.)

It’s been a similar story for years. The Washington Posttook a deep look at this in 2013 and wrote:

“According to some experts, the flood of Hispanic immigrant workers in the past 25 years — both legal and illegal — has had a much smaller effect on employment patterns than other trends, including factory flight overseas, weakened labor unions and a spate of recessions.

“They also say that low-skilled immigration has been both a boon and a burden to America. It has squeezed public services but generated tax revenue. It has depressed wages in some areas but has revitalized ailing communities. The group that suffers most from the influx of new foreign laborers, these experts report, are earlier immigrants.”

Proving divisive

It’s not just the immigration push that’s proving divisive. So are the other recent controversial, culturally focused steps taken by the administration.

The Justice Department says its affirmative-action effort is about “racial discrimination against Asian Americans,” according to a Justice Department spokeswoman, who added that the department “is committed to protecting all Americans from all forms of illegal race-based discrimination.”

“Maybe now people will finally pay attention to something we Asian Americans have been talking about for so long,” Joe Zhou told the Los Angeles Times. Zhou sued Harvard in 2015 on behalf of his son, who did not get in, despite being a valedictorian with a 4.44 grade-point average, near-perfect SATs and involvement in extracurricular activities.

But not all Asian-Americans feel that way. The advocacy group Asian Americans Advancing Justice condemned the Trump administration’s move and said it supports affirmative-action policies.

“Affirmative action expands educational opportunities for all applicants in a society where cultural and racial biases in testing and access to quality education deny many students equal opportunity,” the group wrote in a statement.

It noted that affirmative-action policies particularly help “low-income and working class Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.”

Civil rights groups say affirmative-action opponents often focus on Asian-Americans for these kinds of cases as part of an effort to weaken affirmative-action policies more broadly.

“Since the new administration has been in office, it has been moving very deliberately to operationalize its nativist agenda with policies like this one,” Advancing Justice continued. “Instead of attacking affirmative action programs, the Trump administration should use its platform to increase opportunities for all students while continuing to address the persistent equity gaps for low-income students and students of color. We support affirmative action and refuse to allow Asian Americans to be used as a wedge between communities of color.”

Cornell William Brooks, the former head of the NAACP, said on CNN Wednesday that the Justice Department was looking for “ideological victims” and “racial bogeymen” that don’t exist.

That’s part of why, despite Trump’s appeal to racial and ethnic minorities — that legal immigration hurts them — they are less likely to peel away.

These things are always a matter of priorities.

Trump’s attempts to win over black and brown communities have often fallen short. “What the hell do you have to lose?” he asked in comments aimed at black voters — at a campaign rally delivered to a largely white crowd in a white Wisconsin suburb.

Trump wound up winning just 8 percent of black voters in 2016, less than George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 and barely more than Mitt Romney in 2012.

In reality, those appeals were also largely aimed at trying to keep the GOP voting bloc together, an effort to make Trump appear open-minded to white, suburban Republicans.

The impending ban on transgender people serving in the military, which Trump announced via Twitter, caught Pentagon leaders off guard. Some seemed none-too-pleased with it — and appear to be breaking ranks with their commander in chief.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft told a transgender service member, for example, he “will not break faith.”

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford issued a statement saying, “There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the secretary of defense and the secretary has issued implementation guidance.”

Trying to stop the slide

The immigration legislation has little chance of passing in Congress. It doesn’t have the support of 50 Republican senators, let alone the 60 total votes in the Senate needed to overcome a filibuster.

So why push this?

Narratives of health care failure and Russia investigations have dominated headlines and cable news over the past couple of months. And Trump’s numbers have suffered because of it.

That Quinnipiac poll is hardly the only one. Every poll has shown a clear trend. Even Rasmussen, a polling outfit the statistical community frowns upon but the president pays attention to, had Trump at 38 percent Wednesday. Drudge highlighted the poll on its site — in bolded and in red font — this way:

RASMUSSEN: TRUMP APPROVAL DOWN TO 38%…

“Lower than Obama received during his entire presidency…

These are historically bad numbers for a president. No one has been this low at the same time since polling began. But, in fairness, he also had historically bad numbers for any major-party nominee — and still won the presidency.

That’s important to remember, but it certainly didn’t matter in the election, and it’s not everything now. The actions the White House is taking and the issues the administration is pushing signal worries among the president’s political team.

“Looking at this through a political lens,” Jones said, “it appears these coordinated announcements are an effort to keep his core supporters engaged and on board the Trump train.”

There are signs of bumpiness on the tracks. Trump won independents in 2016, but a late June NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, for example, found his approval had slipped 17 points with them since February.

His base, however, appeared intact. That may be changing. Traditionally, even in the worst of times, presidents retain very high support among their party. But Quinnipiac found a softening, a 10-point drop since June among Republicans saying they “very strongly” approve of the president. Barely a majority of Republicans said they “strongly approved,” 53 percent, down from 63 percent two months ago.

“The trend is worrisome,” Conant said.

Insider looking out?

Trump has begun distancing himself from congressional Republicans, referring to them as “they” and publicly shaming them for having promised action on health care for seven years.

But there’s only so long a president can position himself as the “outsider.” Obama certainly tried. He ran a re-election campaign partially on it.

Trump is at least now partly responsible for the legislative push — and for making the argument for policies. That’s something he has failed to do effectively. On health care, for example, he never got beyond boilerplate political talking points and engaged the public with any depth on the nuts and bolts of policy.

Yes, health care is complicated.

President Obama was steeped in policy and, on many issues, especially health care, he was his administration’s best spokesman. But when there were failures, just like Trump, Obama blamed “Congress,” all of Congress.

That infuriated his own party.

“The most important lesson I’ve learned, is that you can’t change Washington from the inside,” Obama said in September 2012, two months before winning re-election. “You can only change it from the outside.”

For Trump, the blameless posture is complicated by the deal-maker persona he’s created for himself. He wrote a book about it. Trump has pledged to make the “best” deals.

So far, though, he’s dealt only with Republicans, making no serious push to bring Democrats on board. At this point, he’s only at the threatening stage with Democrats.

Maybe that shouldn’t be surprising, however, considering how Trump advocates making deals in The Art of the Deal. In one section, he imagines how he would have responded to a hostile takeover attempt that played out in a different company.

“I’m not saying I would also have won, but if I went down, it would have been kicking and screaming,” he wrote. “I would have closed the hotel and let it rot. That’s just my makeup. I fight when I feel I’m getting screwed, even if it’s costly and difficult and highly risky.”

That could explain tweets like this, sent in the wee hours of July 28, the morning after the Senate’s Obamacare repeal effort failed:

“As I said from the beginning, let Obamacare implode, then deal. Watch!”

“Time to force the conversation”

The White House seems to see this culture push as good politics.

In the briefing room with reporters, Miller, for example, called the immigration legislation “enormously advantageous” and said it was “time to force the conversation on this issue.”

He even explicitly mentioned “battleground states.”

“Public support is so immense on this,” Miller contended. “If you just look at the polling data in many key battleground states across the country — that over time you’re going to see massive public push for this kind of legislation.”

That doesn’t terribly sound unlike the unnamed White House aide, who told Axios this about the president’s announcement of a ban on transgender people in the military:

“This forces Democrats in Rust Belt states like Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, to take complete ownership of this issue. How will the blue-collar voters in these states respond when senators up for re-election in 2018 like Debbie Stabenow are forced to make their opposition to this a key plank of their campaigns?”

But, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders disputed any electoral calculations behind the ban. Asked on July 26 if the decision had anything to do with trying to put pressure on Democrats in battleground seats, she said, “Not that I’m aware.” She said it was all about “military readiness and unit cohesion.”

A different official also told the Washington Post that the decision was about “military readiness and military resource decision.” But, added, “It will be fun to watch some of them [Democrats] have to defend this, but that was never an impetus.”

Some Republicans worry reviving the culture wars is the wrong place to focus to achieve the outcome this White House is looking for.

“The challenge is for every political action there is an equal and opposite reaction,” Jones said, “and I think many Main Street Republicans, let alone independents, will bristle at proposals they consider to be exceptionally exclusionary particularly in the absence of addressing issues that traditionally animate the whole party, like tax reform.”

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George Lopez Reflects On 'The Wall,' A Lifetime Of Comedy And Jokes About Trump

George Lopez, who takes the stage at the Kennedy Center on Saturday in his new HBO comedy special, “The Wall,” visited NPR’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

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Comedian George Lopez will perform his latest special, “The Wall,” live on Saturday at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

The outspoken comedian, who in his nearly 40 years of performing has branched out into books, documentary filmmaking and more, spoke with NPR’s Stacey Vanek Smith ahead of his live HBO special about his aptly titled show and the politics behind it, his thoughts on comedy during the time of President Trump and that time he played golf with the real estate mogul.

His special airs live at 10 p.m. ET on HBO and will be available on demand on the network’s various platforms after its airing.

Interview Highlights

On his new special and just exactly how President Trump’s wall along the Mexican border would get built

George Lopez: Yeah, I would say that if they build that wall, the most difficult part for Mexicans is to watch someone build a wall and not have anything to do with it. So that’s almost like mental torture that Latinos will be looking at and they’re be going, “Oh, my God! What are they … Ay, mira! He’s using sparkling water to make cement! He doesn’t even know. What are all those things every 10 feet? Those are port-a-potties.”

Stacey Vanek Smith: Well, that would explain the $30 billion … If they use sparkling water to mix the cement.

Lopez: For $30 billion, you could get undocumented people to build the wall themselves. You can pay them to stand as a wall, shoulder to shoulder, for eight-hour shifts. And still have money left over.

Smith: You’re probably right. $30 billion is like a GDP.

Lopez: But also, I say that I hope the wall isn’t so heavy that it crushes the tunnels that we have underneath. And, if this country wants to elect someone with no political experience, who is racially insensitive, and golfs … In my first 100 days, I will make Taco Tuesday the law.

Smith: George Lopez 2020, you heard it here first.

Lopez: I would legalize marijuana. And not only would I legalize it, I would sit down and smoke it with you.

On what a wall along the border means to him and how he fits into the situation

Lopez: The wall fits into: I’m an American citizen, and I’ve seen a lot of change in this country. I’ve also seen my grandfather who had a green card, who was documented, work harder than I’ve ever seen anybody work in my life.

Smith: What did he do?

Lopez: He was a dig-ditcher. He dig sewers and he worked in construction. But he wasn’t a builder. He was a digger. Like, he dug, and that was his life. It’s tough, man, when you see a guy like that, that you grow up and those are the eyes, the impressionable eyes, that you see this guy coming in and be down from working and, you know, he’s struggling to take his shoes off. And when you’re a grown man, and you see someone depict that as lazy or a violator or anything like that. That, that doesn’t stand with me.

So, on the case of immigration and migration and, you know, this country does not want to go back to the beginning and let’s talk about how everyone got here. The thing that upsets me the most is the entitlement of people that will stand with a flag and say to some other people that they need to go back to where they came from. When, in fact, they also would need to go back to where they came from, because you need to go all the way back to the beginning. And if we all had to go back to where we came from, there would be less traffic, and there wouldn’t be as many crimes, and we would be living in a place that had a lot of space. I don’t think real estate would be as much as it is now, if everybody went back to where they came from.

On the recent backlash over comments he made regarding law enforcement

Smith: So last month, you got some backlash after you posted on social media “The Trump administration is deporting Latinos to make street safer. You wanna make the street safer? Deport the police.” And, of course, Kathy Griffin got a lot of backlash for her photo of holding a severed head that looked like President Trump. It sort of seems like the boundaries of comedy are shifting right now, and I was wondering if there’s anything that’s off-limits to you.

Lopez: Well, yes. Of course. But, police brutality is not off-limits. You know? It can’t be. You know, holding up a severed head of the president, would I do that? No. Would anybody that worked with me allowed me to do that? No way.

Smith: Why not?

Lopez: Because, you know, that’s … I’ve always had a certain amount of respect for the office of the presidency, up until, and even a little bit now. Like, I won’t acknowledge that the guy there, like, I won’t say “the president’s such and such.” I just think you have to be better-qualified to earn that title. Like, you might have won the election, but that doesn’t make you qualified to sit at that chair. I know a little bit about that guy, and listen: I’m full of s***, but that guy really is full of s***. Like I’ve been told my whole life I’m full of s***. When you’re full of s***, you know what full of s*** looks like. And he’s, he’s overflowing.

It’s that the sensitivity is so high. Unfortunately, people are losing their lives, unfortunately, in things that no one should die over.

And, listen, I’ve always been a supporter of law enforcement, but also, the police aren’t off-limits to me. So, when I made that joke, and Fox & Friends, or Fox and whoever they’re talking to over there, put that up and made it seem like it was a direct threat to the police officers, it was misqu … it wasn’t misquoted because I’m owning it and I don’t apologize. But the amount of hatred and the amount of images that I got sent by police officers who would sent pictures of their private parts to me, and the threats that I got personally. Listen, I’m not afraid of getting pulled over and I’m not afraid if a cop wants to beat me down. I can’t do anything about that. But to see a police officer write to me and say “you better hope you don’t need the police. You better hope I don’t pull you over, and you better hope you’re not bleeding on the street because I’ll leave you bleeding on the street to die.”

I didn’t particularly think that joke was that much to get that kind of reaction, but what really surprised me, are the threats against myself and the threats against my family. … Listen, I’m positive that there are good cops and bad cops. Just like there’s good fat and bad fat. You know, in life, there’s a ying and a yang and a balance. And when you don’t have balance, you have comedy. And when you can’t take a joke, it is a sad indictment of our society right now that a comedian would be looked at as a truthsayer, and a politician is bending the truth.

On his nearly 40 years in comedy

Lopez: I love it. Yes. It is the freest form of expression, even though people get upset. It is the only place that you can truly have free speech. Politically, you can’t. And you skirt around issues. And I think skirting around issues and being politically correct is what’s dividing the country, in a sense. You don’t want to get to where you’re using words that incite. But images and misperceptions, those should always be funny.

So, with me, those are the things that I gravitate to, because those are the things that happen to me. Like, here’s another example: “What am I gonna talk about? Where the other sock go? And how come dryers only dry for a certain amount of time?”

When I bought my house in the neighborhood that I live in, I decided to set the alarm, because I would go out for the weekend. So, when I get in, I’d forget the alarm’s set. And, when I get in, the alarm is going off, but I don’t know the code. So it’s ringing in the whole neighborhood, and I’m punching stuff in and I don’t know the code.

So, I call the woman that works with me and say: What’s the code? And by the time she gets it, I put it in, but it’s already been like 20 minutes, so 10 minutes after that, on my side, I hear a knock. So I go over there, and there’s two police officers at the door. One is Caucasian and one is Latino. And I go and say: “Hey! What’s up, guys?” I say: “Hey, I set the alarm. It went off. I didn’t know the code. And I finally got the code, and now you guys are here.”

There’s silence. And the white police officer says, “Listen, I know who you are, but can I see some ID?” And I said: “Yeah, come on in.” And the Latino guy goes: “Oh, how long have you lived here?” And I say, “Probably like a year-and-a-half.” And he goes: “This is your house, huh?” And I’m looking for my ID, and I go, and I look around, and I go, “S***! If I didn’t know better, there’s nothing in that house that would say that I live there.” Because it’s decorated like the way that someone would decorate their house if they decorated nice.” So I’m looking like “wow!”

So I say, “Look!” I open the refrigerator and I had corn and flour tortillas and like seven different varieties of, like chile. And the guys go, “hey, sorry to bother you. Have a nice day.”

So, after 56 years, and 38 of them doing stand-up, those are the things that make me laugh. If they make people feel uncomfortable, then that person has to deal with their uncomfortableness, and not with the fact that I’m speaking my mind. Because then, that would change me. So, it can’t change me.

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