In this illustration by John Tenniel (1820-1914) for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice encounters the Duchess and a squalling baby, as well as a cook and the Cheshire-Cat.
In a speech on January 15, President-elect Joe Biden condemned Republican members of Congress who refused to wear masks while locked down in close quarters during the insurrection by dangerous right wing loonies at the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. on January 6. Biden praised Delaware Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester, a Democrat, for offering masks to her colleagues, and he then commented on the Republicans who refused masks, among whom was macho man Representative Markwayne Mullin from Oklahoma, saying, “What the hell is the matter with them? It’s time to grow up!”
Indeed it is long past time for anti-maskers, QAnon conspiracy nuts, and all the other right wing loonies to grow up. Sane people have run out of tolerance for their antics and ravings. The refusal by some Republican members of Congress to wear masks in one part of the Capitol building while the rest of it was being overrun by seditious rioters may seem like a small thing, but the two actions are nevertheless equivalent in their reckless disregard for others. Since the wing nuts will most likely refuse to grow up just as they refuse masks, then perhaps after Inauguration Day on Wednesday the rest of the country can ignore them more easily once their cult leader is out of power.
Demonstrators at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. on January 21, 2017 wear Pussy Hats. Photo by Liz Lemon.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi thanks men and women of the National Guard protecting the Capitol during the second impeachment of the outgoing president on January 13, 2021. Photo from the Office of Nancy Pelosi.
Maybe after four long, horrible years of darkness, relations of all kinds will have an opportunity to breathe and become vital again once all the available oxygen isn’t being sucked up by a malignant narcissist in the White House and his vicious, tantrum-prone followers. Maybe soon we can get back to working on the real problems which bedevil us, undistracted by the cries for attention of whiny, overgrown toddlers.
An effigy of the Pussy Grabber-in-Chief gagged by what appears to be a Pussy Hat during the D.C. Women’s March on January 21, 2017. Photo by Lorie Shaull.
The Republicans have passed their tax bill in the House of Representatives, and next week it goes to the Senate for a vote. This week the Senate Finance Committee held hearings on the tax bill, and Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) became so upset with Sherrod Brown’s (D-OH) criticism of the bill and of Republicans’ motives in trying to pass it, that he exclaimed “Bullcrap!” in response. “Bullcrap” seems to be a favored light curse among Republicans in public life. The last time the term made headlines was when a self-absorbed Republican representative from Oklahoma used it earlier this year to rebuke some critical constituents.
Senator Brown’s criticism of the bill was entirely accurate and to the point, which of course was why Senator Hatch called it “bullcrap”. No need to respond with strong language like “bullcrap” if Senator Brown’s remarks weren’t close enough to the mark that they might alert the slumbering masses they were about to be screwed so that a handful of wealthy people and corporations could stuff even more money in their pockets at the expense of everyone else. Like any old master at shilling for wealthy patrons, Senator Hatch understands that the game is pretty obvious to anyone who is halfway paying attention, even mainstream journalists, but it lacks decorum to point it out to the rubes, who must always be led to believe there is something in it for them.
An illustration of income inequality. Map by Stephen Ewen.
The tax bill plainly enough steals from the poor and gives to the rich. The question remains whether the Republicans will get away with it, not only by passing it in the Senate, thereby making it the law of the land once the Capitalist-in-Chief signs it, as he certainly will, but in the 2018 congressional elections. Americans have notoriously short memories, at least for the dry details of economics.
Orson Welles as the plutocrat Charles Foster Kane in his 1941 film Citizen Kane campaigns for governor of New York with the usual palaver about the “working man.”
The conventional wisdom says people vote their pocketbooks, but that has been disproved over and over again in recent elections. The wealthy vote their pocketbooks, but since there are relatively few of them and therefore their actual votes don’t amount to much, they open their pocketbooks to their favored candidates, who then convince the rubes to get fired up about social issues like gay marriage, and never mind that in the long run they are voting against their economic self-interest. Getting screwed by the very people who profess to be your friends has been a time honored strategy that works, just ask the Native Americans not long after the first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrim settlers, and again and again to their misfortune through the years after that.
“This is a service. No one here pays me to go.”
― Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) speaking to constituents in 2017.
Earlier this week a congressman from Oklahoma, Markwayne Mullin, told his constituents at a town hall gathering that their notion that they paid his salary was “bullcrap” and that he alone had paid his own way through taxes over the years as a businessman. Hallelujah! Congressman Mullin further elaborated that his tenure should be considered a “service” from him to his constituents, and damn glad of it! This is truly a man who is God’s gift! If he took a side job at a convenience store rather than in Congress, those of us buying lotto tickets and fast food from him would feel blessed to have him deign to notice our proffered treasury bills. Glory!
From the founding of the nation, there have been calls from some to withhold all payment to those who selflessly serve in our nation’s deliberative bodies. Honor itself is its own reward, they argued, and no doubt Markwayne Mullin, selfless civil servant, would have been right there with them, refusing his congressional salary and cushy benefits, along with the extremely lucrative possibility of reaping even greater rewards from private sector lobbying once he left office. Not for Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma, who proclaims loudly for all to hear “Bullcrap!”
Markwayne Mullin, whose daddy left him a profitable business at the age of 20, and who lined up for government largesse while decrying the distribution of the same, we thank you for telling it like it is. That’s what’s important these days! BULLCRAP, in belligerent all caps, that’ll set those lib’ruls back on their Birkenstock heels. Markwayne Mullin, according to your bio on Wikipedia you are a Cherokee Indian, and naturally that leads to considerable cognitive dissonance for the lib’ruls when they try to reconcile your heritage with your arrogant, bellicose ignorance in relating to your constituents. All the better for you, because you are in your own dickish way standing up for what you believe in, which apparently is tone-deaf entitlement and your own testosterone-addled studliness, and how many Indians can lay claim to that after 500 years of bloody history of white folks pushing them around?
― Vitawayne – Booyah!
There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow. There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow. The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye, And it looks like it’s climbing right up to the sky.
Oh, what a beautiful morning! Oh, what a beautiful day! I’ve got a beautiful feeling Every thing’s going my way!
― Excerpt from “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” from the musical Oklahoma!; lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.
The hemp plant,Cannabis sativa, has had a tortured history over the past hundred years on account of its close relative, also Cannabis sativa, but more commonly known as marijuana. The variety grown as hemp and renowned throughout history over several continents for its practical uses has a vanishingly small tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of less than 1%, while the variety grown for its psychoactive properties has a THC content over 20%. Smoking hemp would induce a headache rather than relieve one. Why then has hemp been demonized along with its fun-loving and meditative relative?
Like the shreds of fiber running through a stalk of hemp itself, the story has many strands, and they are all entwined within the Cannabis sativa plant as a whole. In the early twentieth century, Mexicans fleeing the chaos of revolution in their country came to the United States in large numbers and brought their recreational and medicinal use of marijuana (their term) with them. Americans had long grown hemp, but they had little interest in its higher THC relative. Americans evidently preferred liquid spirits. The influx of Mexican immigrants with their loco weed coincided with the push toward prohibition of alcohol which culminated in the passage of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution in 1919.
Americans who were now prohibited alcohol could not be allowed to turn to marijuana for relief, particularly considering its association with poor brown-skinned people and, increasingly, poor black-skinned ones. The demonization began in the southwestern and southern states in the 1920s and spread to the rest of the country by the early 1930s. Government agents would have too much difficulty discerning innocent hemp in the field from devil weed, and therefore it was all to be outlawed. Farmers who still wished to grow hemp had to apply for a license from the government and submit to oversight and red tape. Fewer and fewer farmers wished to put up with the hassle from the 1930s on until, after a brief blip of government encouragement during World War II, no one was growing hemp in this country after about 1956.
Hemp for Victory, a 1942 short film from the United States Department of Agriculture.
There are also possibly self-serving culprits in the demonization of marijuana among the powerful of the 1920s and 1930s in the United States, among them William Randolph Hearst, Andrew Mellon, and the DuPont family. Hemp, a useful and unglamorous plant with no psychoactive properties, was difficult to demonize. It’s smoky Jazz Age relative, on the other hand, lent itself more easily to demonization, and then hemp, the real target of powerful business competitors, was more easily tossed by them onto the smoldering pyre of public condemnation as a matter of guilt by association.
Shemp Howard, in the middle, receives an ironing board rebuke from Moe Howard, on the left, while Larry Fine looks on in Sing a Song of Six Pants, a Three Stooges short from 1947. Shemp should not be confused with hemp, nor with Joe Palma, also known as “Fake Shemp” after he doubled for Shemp following the famous comedian’s untimely demise.
The lowest point was reached in the 1970s and 1980s with the designation of marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, the creation of the self-perpetuating Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) a few years later, and in the 1980s the introduction of draconian mandatory, minimum sentencing laws with the promise and encouragement of zealous enforcement by the administration of President Ronald Reagan. The prisons, many of them now privately operated for profit, have been bursting at the seams ever since, mostly with the grandchildren of those poor brown or black people we discussed earlier, a lot of them busted for minor drug offenses. How do you control a population? Start with their customs and particularly target what you can portray as their vices. Have a stiff alcoholic drink then and consider whether your profitable – and even patriotic – plan to grow some useful hemp is worth your while to hassle with the DEA, the ultimate overseer, state laws tendering you encouragement notwithstanding.