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.
Regardless of the outcome of today’s runoff election in Mississippi between incumbent Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democratic challenger Mike Espy, Senator Hyde-Smith will have exposed herself at the very least as an insensitive idiot through her recent remarks, and more likely as someone whose cossetted upbringing among conservative white people in Mississippi never gave her an idea how offensively her remarks would be received by those outside that bubble.
John C. Stennis takes his seat in the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1928, the same year he received his law degree from the University of Virginia. Between 1928, when Mr. Stennis started his career in government as a Democrat, and 1988, his last year as a senator from Mississippi, the major political parties realigned, with the major shift coming in reaction to Civil Rights legislation passed during the Lyndon Johnson presidential administration.
Senator Hyde-Smith has of course attacked those attacking her for her idiotic remarks regarding public hanging and vote suppression because that is what plays best these days among emboldened white supremacist fascists in the Make America Great Again (MAGA) crowd which constitutes her major constituency. Retractions and sincere apologies are signs of weakness to those people, who would call for her lynching if she ever showed any human decency. Instead she has claimed her words were twisted by the media and by her political foes, even though she can be seen speaking those very words on video. As for suppressing the votes of liberals, she says she was only kidding.
Ha-ha, Senator Hyde-Smith, you are very funny with your joking about Jim Crow vote suppression of liberals, by which of course everyone in the 37 percent black state of Mississippi knows you mean suppressing the votes of black folks. That stuff is indeed side-splittingly funny! And your “good old gal” remark about how you like someone so much that you’d be at the front row of a public hanging if he invited you, by which everyone in the state of Mississippi, where public lynching of black folks over 100 years from the Civil War to the Civil Rights era was a well-known occurrence, why that’s a knee-slapper, and goodness knows little ol’ you meant no harm by it, did you, Sugar? Bless your heart!
It is likely that hundreds of thousands of Mississippianswill vote for Senator Hyde-Smith in the runoff election. Unless those voters were living under a rock, they had to have heard the Senator’s remarks or heard of them. They will vote for her anyway. For too many of them, most likely the MAGA fanatics among them, her recent remarks will be reason enough to vote for her. She is an awful person, and like the awful person currently occupying the Oval Office of the White House, she is a symptom of what’s wrong with the country, not the disease. The disease is carried by all those voters in Mississippi and elsewhere who are laughing with her, rather than being appalled not just by her remarks, but by the mindset that brought them out of her mouth in the first place, and then made her turn on everyone but herself to quiet the uproar over them. Look at your friends, neighbors, and family for those carrying the disease of not taking cruelty seriously, and laughing at the debasement of the Other.
Secretary of Defense designate Elliot Richardson, right, talks with Senator John C. Stennis, D-Miss., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, prior to his nomination hearing at the U.S. Capitol on January 10, 1973. By the 1970s, Republican conversion of conservative southern Democrats was nearly complete. Mr. Stennis would retain his Democratic Party affiliation through the remainder of his career, though in name only since he was aligned ideologically with conservative Republicans. In 1982, he was the last Democratic senator elected from Mississippi.
“And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in singin’ a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. And friends they may think it’s a movement.” — Arlo Guthrie, from his song “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”.
Progressive Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, newly elected Representative from New York’s 14th Congressional District, have their work cut out for them even before they take their seats in January as they battle the Old Guard within their own party. The Old Guard of the Democratic Party, led by Nancy Pelosi in the House and Chuck Schumer in the Senate, are working to co-opt, minimize, and undermine the incoming progressives so that business as usual shall continue after January. The Old Guard appears to have little interest in understanding that business as usual by corporate Democrats such as themselves is what brought this country to the precipice of authoritarian rule by the current president and his accomplices in Congress and the judiciary over the past two years.
Harriot Daley, standing, was appointed telephone operator at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., in 1898 when there were only 51 stations on the switchboard. On July 30, 1937, when this photo was taken, Miss Daley was Chief Operator and supervised a staff of 37 operators as they answered calls from 1200 extensions. Library of Congress photo by Harris & Ewing.
Corporate Democrats are a better option for leading this country than fascist Republicans in the same way that a kick in the behind is marginally better than a kick in the groin, but that’s hardly a hearty endorsement of their policies and practices. That is not a positive view of the future for young people starting out and raising children of their own into the world. There has to be a better option still, one that is outside the stale choice between the lesser of two evils, both of them more interested in serving corporate interests than those of the people at large. The Old Guard of the Democratic Party will continue trying to scare progressives into backing down from real change by claiming they are splintering the Party and allowing the minority party, the Republicans, to win votes in the House of Representatives and pass their agenda.
There’s truth in their argument, too, particularly since Republicans historically are more likely than Democrats to maintain lock step with their colleagues in the face of opposition and subsume their differences, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that progressives should move to the center and join ranks with the corporate Democrats instead of the other way around. What’s needed to convince corporate Democrats to drop Old Guard methods and beliefs, besides not re-electing them time after time, is pressure from ordinary citizens that builds to a point overpowering their allegiance to corporate money.
Phone calls. E-mails. Snail mails. Attendance and vocal presence at town halls. Boycotts of corporations making large political donations. Taking to the streets. Voting in local elections for school board and county supervisor and city council seats. Knocking on doors to get out the vote and helping people register to vote. Speaking up when someone among your friends, family, or neighbors expresses hateful ideas counter to our democratic principles. Refusal to participate in the national security state by calling for the repeal of the PATRIOT Act and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and condemning the persecution of whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and John Kiriakou.
The presentation in Frank Capra’s 1939 movieMr. Smith Goes to Washingtonprobably strikes most people today as corny, but that should not overshadow the principles of good government and citizen participation it espouses and their relevancy today.
Starting and supporting statewide initiatives such as California’s Proposition 11 in 2008 which took legislative district reapportionment away from partisan politicians and gave that power to the people. There are many more ways to convince business as usual Democrats in Congress and across the nation that the future for them and us lies in their scooting over to the left, in the direction this country came from before it swung too far right in the last generation, rather than stubbornly obstructing progressives in order to better serve their corporate masters. Getting up off the couch and making phone calls and doing the other things is the only way to make it happen.
“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
― words of Jesus Christ from Matthew 7:3-5, King James Version of the New Testament.
The second half of the schoolyard taunt in the title is “But what am I?” What, indeed, are you, Mr. President? On Tuesday, the current president of the United States addressed the United Nations General Assembly for forty-five minutes, and the results were an embarrassment to the country he purports to represent before the world.
After some preliminary stroking of his own ego, the current president launched into the main part of his speech, and for much of it, when he was excoriating other nations he may as well have been referring to the current iteration of the United States as people in other nations might very well see it.
The April 15, 2017, Tax March on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., included this inflated rooster in the likeness of the current president, borrowed from a sculpture by an American for a Chinese shopping mall to mark the Year of the Rooster. Photo by Mike Licht.
“Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terrorists, but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity.”
“Authority and authoritarian powers seek to collapse the values, the systems and alliances that prevented conflict and tilted the world toward freedom since World War II.”
“International criminal networks traffic drugs, weapons, people; force dislocation and mass migration; threaten our borders. And new forms of aggression exploit technology to menace our citizens.”
“We must uphold respect for law, respect for borders and respect for culture, and the peaceful engagement these allow.”
“It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a regime [North Korea], but would arm, supply and financially support a country that imperils the world with nuclear conflict.”
“The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos.”
“This wealth, which rightly belongs to Iran’s people, also goes to shore up Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship, fuel Yemen’s civil war and undermine peace throughout the entire Middle East.”
“And above all, Iran’s government must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors.”
“It is time to expose and hold responsible those countries who support and finance terror groups like al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban and others that slaughter innocent people.”
“For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the UN Human Rights Council.”
By his own words you shall know him. He speaks of others but he may as well be talking about what his own country has become and how it behaves in the world. There is one more notable part of the speech, in the middle where he talks about North Korea and ad-libs the “Rocket Man” insult line.
“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.
Rocket Man [Kim Jong-un] is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.
The United States is ready, willing and able. But hopefully, this will not be necessary.
That’s what the United Nations is all about. That’s what the United Nations is for. Let’s see how they do.”
The current president appears to have the emotional maturity – or immaturity – of a teenager. He fails to understand, however, that unlike the outcome in this scene from the 1955 film Rebel Without a Cause, there will be no safety valve for either of the belligerents in his game of nuclear chicken with North Korea. James Dean stars as Jim Stark (in the red jacket), Natalie Wood is Judy, and Corey Allen plays the ill-fated Buzz Gunderson.
Oh, really, that is what the United Nations is for, to rubber stamp the will of the President of the United States, however unhinged he may be? We know what the 45th president of the United States is, and we also know what his counterpart, Kim Jong-un of North Korea is, and in terms of schoolyard threats and insults they have achieved parity. What’s difficult to comprehend is that these two malevolent idiots hold the fate of so very much of humanity and the Earth in their child-like hands and don’t appear to grasp the gravity of the situation beyond their own little sandboxes.