The Week’s Best Cartoons 5/21 by TokyoSand

This week the cartoonists had plenty of material to work with from right-wing conspiracy theories to the temporary shortage of infant formula to the mid-term primaries.  As she always does so well, TokyoSand has culled the cream of the crop for us and I have copied just a few of them here, but be sure to visit Political Charge (link at bottom) for the rest, for there are some real winners there!  Thank you, TS, for all you do!


There are many more over at Political Charge, so be sure to check out the rest of the ‘toons!

Orbán Is Teaching, Republicans Are All Ears

On Thursday, the Republicans began their annual CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) meeting … in the nation of Hungary, not here in the U.S.  Not even in a democratic nation, but in one ruled by an authoritarian, Viktor Orbán.  One might ask why they would go to the extra trouble, extra expense, and spend the extra time holding their meetings more than 4,000 miles away.  And I might answer that it is their goal to model the United States on Orbán’s example, to establish the same sort of country that Hungary is today.  Need proof?

The unconscionable Matt Schlapp, the head of the American Conservative Union and organizer of CPAC, told NPR this week that he was bringing his event to Hungary because it “represents Christian conservative values” and American conservatives want to replicate this in the U.S. by learning from the country’s ultra-right-wing authoritarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán.

The conference’s program shows exactly what topics are important to the Trump wing of the Republican Party, with sessions entitled: “Western civilization under attack,” “In God we trust,” “The father is a man, the mother is a woman,” and “Culture wars in the media.”  Joining Schlapp and the rest of the KKK Republicans will be the truly nasty Candace Owens and her current hubby, Parler CEO George Farmer.  Oh, and guess who else will be making an appearance via video message?  The ignoble Tucker Carlson of Fox ‘News’ and Mark Meadows, former chief of staff for the twice-impeached former guy.  What a lineup, eh?  So much filth all in one place!  They may have to burn the building just to get rid of the stench.

But the ‘star’ of the show is Orbán himself, the main reason the convention is being held in Hungary to begin with.  In his opening remarks on Thursday, he said …

  • “We need to take back the institutions in Washington and Brussels. We need to find friends, and we need to find allies. We need to coordinate the movement of our troops, because we have a big challenge ahead of us.”
  • “Have your own media. It’s the only way to point out the insanity of the progressive left. The problem is that the western media is adjusted to the leftist viewpoint. Those who taught reporters in universities already had progressive leftist principles. Of course, the GOP has its media allies, but they can’t compete with the mainstream liberal media. My friend, Tucker Carlson is the only one who puts himself out there. His show is the most popular. What does it mean? It means programs like his should be broadcasted day and night. Or as you say 24/7.”

The press at CPAC is mostly home-grown, from state-run Hungarian media. Independent European and U.S. outlets were largely denied access, and CBS News was one of a small number allowed access to the conference.  Journalists from international media outlets, including the New Yorker, Vox Media, Vice News, Rolling Stone, and the Associated Press, were denied access to the event despite months of requests.

Are you starting to feel the chills going up your spine yet?  I do.

Let me tell you just a bit about Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.  He is a white supremacist authoritarian. He’s restricted Muslim immigration and LGBTQ rights while building a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  The former guy was a big fan of Orbán, saying …

“Viktor Orbán has done a tremendous job in so many different ways — highly respected, respected all over Europe — probably, like me, a little bit controversial, but that’s OK.”

I rarely repeat the words of the former guy, for in my book he is completely irrelevant, but I do so this time to give you an idea of the sort of person Orbán is … and believe me, he is not a good person and he is definitely NOT highly respected throughout Europe.

All of the international democracy rating agencies agree that Hungary is no longer a democracy.  During his 12 years in power, Orbán has chipped away at the foundations of Hungarian democracy. It has been replaced with an authoritarian regime that wields a cynical interpretation of the law as a weapon; the country is governed by rules like the border journalism permits, regulations that can seem reasonable on their face but actually serve to undermine essential democratic freedoms.

Elections there are free, in the sense that the vote counts aren’t nakedly rigged. But they are unfair: The government controls the airwaves and media companies to such a degree that the opposition can’t get their message out.

Viktor Orbán is an autocrat, he does not govern but he rules … and yes there is a difference, a BIG difference.  Orbán is, by any reasonable definition, a fascist, although some would argue he is merely a ‘soft fascist’.  Fascism … it’s a scary word, isn’t it?  The former guy made no attempt to hide the fact that he wanted to rule rather than govern, and he chipped away at the restraints that kept him, to an extent at least, from doing so.  He plotted not one, but three attempts to overthrow the will of the people in the 2020 election, to install himself as an unelected autocrat for … how long?  4 years?  6 years?  A lifetime?

The fact that CPAC chose to hold their annual convention in Hungary and more to the point to have Orbán as their main speaker should tell you all you need to know about the course being plotted by Republicans aka conservatives for the United States.  It’s an ugly picture my friends.  I’m not a scaremonger or a conspiracy theorist, but the Republican Party has been overtaken by a wanna-be dictator and they are falling all over themselves trying to lick his boots, to please him.  What does that say for the future of this nation?

Saturday Surprise — Legos ‘n Squirrels ‘n A Town For Sale

Hey guys … it’s the weekend!!!  This morning’s Saturday Surprise is one from a few years back, but when I re-read it, I was once again amazed by some of the creations within!  So, I hope this gives you a smile to get your weekend started, and that you have a wonderful, safe weekend!


Legos-2I am not an artistically talented person, as I’ve mentioned before, but I admire those who are.  I’ve concluded, though, that some people have entirely too much time on their hands.  Legos.  Remember building stuff with Lego bricks?  I could build a fence, or a small house (no windows, doors or roof, though).  But take a look at the artistic endeavours some have accomplished with those little plastic blocks …

Lego-giraffe

Full-size Lego giraffe

Lego-car

Lego-plane

Probably just as safe as a Boeing

Lego-Beatles

The Beatles in Legoland

Lego-cruise-shipThis cruise ship is 8.44 meters long, 1.33 meters wide and 1.54 meters high, and is made from more than 2.5 million LEGOs. The weight of it is also quite stunning because it weighs around 2 tons, that is, about 6,100 pounds!Lego-wasp

Lego-man.jpg

They even re-create classical paintings and sculptures with Lego …

Lego-Escher

Escher’s Relativity

Lego-Mona-Lisa

Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa

Lego-Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

Lego-scream

Munch’s The Scream

Lego-thinker

Rodin’s The Thinker

Talented?  For sure, but I still have to ask … who has time to do these things?  There are plenty more if you’d like to check them out at Bored Panda!


Now, when you think of squirrel, what do you think of?  Grey, brown, muted colours, right?  But I bet you didn’ know about the Malabar giant squirrel, also known as Shekru.  These guys are native to India … take a look …squirrel-1

As the name suggests, they are huge. Stretching as long as 3 feet, they are much harder to miss than our own scurrilous buddies. Admittedly though, the brilliantly blue bushy tail accounts for much of the Malabar’s length.squirrel-2.jpg

However, they may be more difficult to find than their large size and bright coat suggest. The shades of black, brown and orange, as well as maroon and purple, can assist them in blending perfectly with the forest canopy, where they spend their time leaping from tree to tree. This is especially useful for escaping the attention of predators, such as various birds of prey and also leopards.squirrel-3.jpg

squirrel-4.jpg


Did you know that there is an entire town for sale in Indiana?  No?  It’s the town of Story, Indiana, and there is a … wait for it … story to go with the town!Story-1.jpg

The town began in 1851, when a doctor named George P. Story received 173 acres of land from Millard Fillmore, 13th president of the United States. Over the years, the town then known as “Storyville” started to grow—farms, Story’s medical practice, and a school. In 1882, Story got its first dry goods store and post office. It never grew particularly large, but the story goes that the Great Depression cleared out what few families were left, threatening to end Story and turn it into a ghost town.Story-3More or less abandoned to the elements, Story saw a small resurgence in the early 1980s. Benjamin (who goes by just one name) encountered the town—on the edge of Brown County State Park and not far from Bloomington—for the first time in 1978. He saw the old general store, a house, a gristmill, a barn, and “an assortment of mostly dilapidated buildings,” on four and a half acres and for sale for $65,000. He and his wife Cyndi took a chance on the unique town and decided to set up shop in the form of a restaurant, housed in the old general store. [It] had no indoor plumbing when we moved there, only an outhouse in back,” he says. The second floor was one large room. “Many years previous, owners had obtained a Studebaker franchise and assembled buggies up there,” Benjamin says. “Parts were sent by rail from South Bend to Freetown, brought to Story on horse-drawn carts and first-generation pickup trucks, hauled upstairs, and assembled. The final products were let down on a ramp through a door in the back.” He remembers Story being very dark, and very quiet.

Story-Benjamin-restaurant

Benjamin’s restaurant

There are only six houses in Story. One of them, built in the Queen Anne style, is the Wheeler-Hedrick House, across the street from the store. Another, built in 1858, is known as the Story-Griffitt House. Benjamin and Cyndi bought them all, one at a time, and converted them into overnight accommodations—the Story Inn. “We also built a commercial kitchen in the back [and] the old general store became the dining room,” Benjamin says. “When we sold Story we had a 100-seat restaurant and 18 overnight rooms, all on 23 acres.”Story-2The town’s current owner, Rick Hofstetter, bought the town in 1999. Hofstetter put more effort into Story, and the 40 years of care has turned into a fairly popular—though out-of-the-way—tourist destination. While most of Story’s buildings have been renovated, the village has not lost its 19th-century charm. Because it was a relatively desolate (and poor) town for decades, its original historic wooden floors, globe lighting, and tin ceilings remain. Just last month, the town was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today all of Story can be yours, for only $3.8 million!  Hey, if all my readers kicked in a mere $1,396 each, we could go in together and have our own little town!


Well, folks, I know you have a weekend awaiting you … I hope you have a great one and do something fun!  Maxine.jpg

Happy World Bee Day!!! 🐝

In the midst of so much happening in the world, I almost missed World Bee Day!!!  I was reminded when I saw a post by my friend Bee Halton — thank you, Sweet Bee!  This is a re-post of the one I wrote two years ago for World Bee Day, but some of you haven’t yet seen it, others may have forgotten it, and it says everything I would say if I wrote a whole new post.  Today is World Bee Day and I cannot think of another species that deserves its own day of celebration more than bees!  Quite literally, our lives depend on bees, and the bee population has been in serious decline for years now.  Be kind … plant some bee-friendly flowers this week as a special treat for these fuzzy little guys, k?  And PLEASE … keep the chemicals out of the garden, the yard, and anywhere else you might be tempted to use them.

Bee-1While every critter, every plant has its place in the ecosystem on planet earth, there is perhaps none more important than the bee.  Bees and other pollinators, such as butterflies, bats and hummingbirds, are increasingly under threat from human activities.  Pollination is, however, a fundamental process for the survival of our ecosystems. Nearly 90% of the world’s wild flowering plant species depend, entirely, or at least in part, on animal pollination, along with more than 75% of the world’s food crops and 35% of global agricultural land.

bee-thumbs-upTo raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats they face and their contribution to sustainable development, the United Nations designated May 20th as World Bee Day. The goal is to strengthen measures aimed at protecting bees and other pollinators, which would significantly contribute to solving problems related to the global food supply and eliminate hunger in developing countries.

bostjan-noc

Boštjan Noč

As it was told to me by a dear friend, a Slovenian beekeeper by the name of Boštjan Noč was driving home one day, listening to a program about “World Days” and their meanings, and he wondered why bees did not have their own day.  After all, as important as they are, surely they deserved a day as much as any.  As President of the Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association, Noč was in a position to rally the others and launch the World Bee Day Initiative.

cute-beeThe initiative was supported by the Slovenian Government, which strove to make it happen.  It took some time … three years, to be exact, but finally on November 17th 2017, the resolution was unanimously backed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, thus designating May 20th as World Bee Day. The initiative was supported by all UN states, while 115 countries also acted as co-sponsors, including major countries such as the U.S., Canada, China, Russia, India, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, and all EU Member States.

Why May 20th?  Because May 20th is the birth date of Anton Janša (1734–1773), a Slovenian beekeeper, the pioneer of modern beekeeping and one of the greatest authorities on the subject of bees. The Austrian Empress Maria Theresa appointed him to the post of permanent teacher of apiculture at the new School of Beekeeping in Vienna. He became well known even before his death in 1773. After 1775, all state beekeeping teachers had to teach the subject in accordance with his teachings and methods.anton-jansa

bee-1So, now that you know the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ behind World Bee Day, what can we do to help the bees?  For one thing, we can plant bee-friendly flowers in our gardens, and … don’t mow down those dandelions and clover … bees love those, and frankly, I think they are just as beautiful as any hothouse-bred flowers!  Another is we can help force companies like Monsanto, Dow, Bayer and others to stop using bee-killing pesticides on their crops.  How?  First, stop buying their products.  I’m not a fan of buying organic produce, for it is over-priced and doesn’t keep as long, but … if that’s what it takes, then so bee it.  You’ll find some other ideas and suggestions on the World Bee Day website … be sure to check it out, for there is a wealth of information there, including lists of bee-friendly (honey) flowers and much more.

I don’t know about other countries, but in Slovenia some beekeepers decorate their bee hives with some fun artwork …bee-artwork

And speaking of coincidence, as I began writing this, I reached for my coffee cup and realized I was drinking out of one of my favourites … no comments about the overflowing ashtray, please!bee-cupI think the words of Mr. Noč speak as well as any I can offer ….

“I believe that we all agree that every human being on this planet deserves food every day. We have to produce more food every day, and every day more food is dependent on pollinators – with honey bees in the lead. Talking about reducing global hunger without ensuring the conditions for the survival of bees and other pollinators would simply be like throwing sand in people’s eyes!

It is time for everyone to listen to bees, in particular, leaders and decision-makers. From today on, 20 May will be a worldwide celebration of bees and beekeepers. I believe that – with the proclamation of World Bee Day – the world will begin to think more broadly about bees, in particular in the context of ensuring conditions for their survival, and thus for the survival of the human race.” – Boštjan Noč

And, I thought a cute bee video might bee just the thing to wrap up this post!

Happy World Bee Day!!!bee-day

Beware The Snarky

You know how some days you just wake up in a mood?  Well, far too many days lately I wake up with a head full of sarcasm and snark that needs a vent, needs to be let loose and shared.  So, lucky for you, I’m sharing it with you, dear friends!


Teaching them young

Last night I was literally sickened when I read that some teens in a local high school, Colerain High School, a school about 15 miles from my home and attended by some of my own friends’ children, had done this …

And meanwhile in West Palm Beach, Florida, kids at Hidden Oaks Middle School did this …

In both instances, I am told the kids were punished, but with what … a slap on the wrist?  A soft-voiced “Now that wasn’t very nice, little Johnnny.”  And what about the parents?  The kids weren’t born knowing how to be grade-A assholes … they learned it somewhere, most likely at home!  And these are not isolated incidents.  According to The Washington Post

“Last month, a student at a Chicago-area high school wrote a racist comment about picking cotton on a “prom-posal” sign. In the past few months, student-athletes in several states, including Georgia, Washington, Vermont, Minnesota and California, have reported hearing competitors or spectators yelling racial slurs at them during or after games.”

Damn it, people … 🛑STOP IT!  Republicans, evangelicals, and whoever else is playing the racist game, just effing STOP IT!  You’re causing untold grief and sooner or later you’re going to get somebody killed, maybe your own kid!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr


A really bad idea

I’ve said it often enough – I do not like the Electoral College.  The idea of the Founders was that it would keep the people from electing some really unqualified madman at some point, but instead, it has worked in the opposite way and caused a madman who was NOT elected by the people to slither into the Oval Office in January 2017.  The Electoral College is one of the worst conventions in our Constitution, second only to the 2nd Amendment, and it needs to go.  Fortunately, at least it only applies to the presidential election, not elections for members of Congress or state offices.

But a Republican candidate for governor in the state of Colorado wants to change that.  Greg Lopez says Colorado should create an electoral college system for electing candidates to statewide office, which would be the first of its kind on the state level and would give far more voting power to Coloradans in rural, conservative counties and dilute the voting power of Coloradans in more populous urban and suburban areas, heavily favouring Republicans.  Surprise.  It’s doubtful his plan will gain momentum, but just the fact that it is being proposed is enough to make my skin crawl.


Kellyanne wrote a book?  I didn’t know she could even read!

You all remember Kellyanne Conway, right?  She was advisor, if you can call it such, to the former guy, despite the fact that her hubby, George Conway, was a full-blown anti-Trumpeter and co-founder of the Lincoln Project, an organization “dedicated to the preservation, protection, and defense of democracy.” Remember how I used to muse about how their dinner table conversations might go, given they were politically and ideologically 180° apart?  Well, next Tuesday, May 24th, for the price of $21 for a hardcover or $14.99 for the ebook, you can read her new book and find out about those supper table conversations!

In a brief excerpt, she writes …

 I had already said publicly what I’d said privately to George: that his daily deluge of insults-by-tweet against my boss—or, as he put it sometimes, “the people in the White House”—violated our marriage vows to “love, honor, and cherish” each other. Those vows, of course, do not mean we must agree about politics or policies or even the president. In our democracy, as in our marriage, George was free to disagree, even if it meant a complete 180 from his active support for Trump-Pence–My Wife–2016 and a whiplash change in character from privately brilliant to publicly bombastic.

“Whoop-de-do, George!” I said to him. “You are one of millions of people who don’t like the president. Congrats.”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got better ways to spend $21, not to mention my time than reading her drivel.  Now, if George writes a book, I might consider it.


Wifey is back in the news

Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is back in the news.  You’ll remember that she was in communication with the former guy’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, after the 2020 election attempting to convince him to illegally overturn the election, to render the people of this nation voiceless.  Well, new information shows that Ms. Thomas also sent emails to at least two Arizona legislators urging them to overturn the election in that state and choose their own ‘clean slate’ of electors, completely disregarding the vote of the people.

Fortunately for the nation, the two lawmakers chose not to break the law and violate their position of trust, but the fact remains that Ms. Thomas attempted in more instances than one to destroy this nation, to rob We the People, the taxpayers who ensure her cushy lifestyle, of our voices!  It is my hope that when all is said and done, Ms. Thomas will see the inside of a prison cell, for what she did was in fact criminal, felonious, and We the People are the victims of her crime.

At this point, I see no option other than for Justice Thomas to step down from his position on the Court.  He may or may not have been directly involved with his wife’s treason, but his integrity is certainly questionable, to say the least.


And just to give you a smile after all the snark …

Filosofa For President!

There is a saying that I’ve seen many times and have even used a time or two in my ‘good people’ posts:  Be the change you want to see in the world.  Makes sense, don’t you think?  It’s akin to another saying I’ve heard ever since I was knee-high-to-a-grasshopper:  If you want something done right, do it yourself.  I’ve lain awake many a night pondering how I can make a difference.  Oh sure, I get multiple emails daily telling me that if I donate to one political candidate or another, I will be making a difference, but I learned long ago that if you donate once, they will hound you until you take your last breath.  And frankly, I don’t have any money to spare for the cost of my medications pretty much equal my monthly stipend from Social Security … what little I do have leftover I donate to humanitarian causes, not to greedy politicians.

So, after much thought, I’ve decided that the only way I can make a real change in this nation’s well-being is to run for president myself!  Do I hear you laughing?  Now wait … think about it for a minute.  I meet all the constitutional requirements:  I’m over 35 years of age – way over, but not as far over as either the current president or the former guy.  I’m a natural-born U.S. citizen, and I’ve lived all my life in the U.S.  In addition, I am college-educated with an M.A. in Political Science and have been a political-minded person since around the age of five.  I’ve read the entire U.S. Constitution more times than I can count, so I will understand what I’m swearing to protect and preserve when I take my oath of office.  I care about people, animals, and life in general.  I believe that climate change is real and will fight to reverse the effects caused by corporate and human greed for the past century or so.  I don’t believe that such things as the colour of a person’s skin, the religion one follows, one’s gender or gender identification, or one’s ethnicity should be a basis for discrimination.  I believe in judging people by their actions, not what they look like.

Now, I’ve got my work cut out for me, so I better order an extra case of coffee next month.  I’ll need to develop a platform, come up with a campaign slogan, define my goals, choose a running mate, and figure out how the hell I’m gonna get my name out there without any money!  One thing I know, and it will be the cornerstone of my campaign, is that I will not sink into the mudhole that is so prevalent in politics today.  I will not respond to hate, and I will not engage in name-calling, screaming & screeching, or telling lies.  I want honest dialog, civil discourse, I want conversations to mean something, not just denigrate the other party.  I want us to have a dialog about the things that matter to all of us, like healthcare, jobs, the minimum wage, gun regulation, education and much more.  I want to remember to whom I owe my job – not the party, not the wealthy, but the average voter.

There will be no corruption, no conspiracy theories, no bigotry whatsoever allowed in either my campaign or later in my administration.  One strike in any of those areas and you’re out for the count.  I intend to be that ‘better angel’ our friend Keith sometimes mentions.  I want to make a difference.  I would say I want to unify this nation, but President Biden tried that and look how that’s working out for him.  Not through any fault of his own, but simply because the things that divide us are too numerous and feelings are running too strong today.  My ultimate goal would be to unify the country, but I’m convinced that for the time being, it is an unattainable goal, so I’ll focus instead on those things I can do.

Where to start?  A list!  YES!  That’s it … I must make a list!  Every achievement always began with a list, and I am the consummate list-maker!  Now … where’s my pen … has anybody seen my pen? 🖋️ Oh never mind … I can start the list on my phone … now where’s my darned phone???

The Anti-Democracy Movement Run Amok

As I lay in bed at 5:30 this morning seeking that elusive thing called sleep, I received an email with Robert Reich’s latest newsletter.  Despite my better judgment, I started reading the piece and there went any hope for sleep.  Peter Thiel’s name has crossed my radar before … he is a billionaire with a net worth of about $4.7 billion who has bankrolled some pretty nasty political candidates, most notably the former guy.  I didn’t know a lot about him, though, and Mr. Reich took care of filling in some gaps … some rather disturbing ones.  Please take a minute to read his piece, for it is well worth your time — just don’t read it at bedtime.


What you need to know about the anti-democracy movement

Who’s funding it, why it’s inspired by Viktor Orban, and what it aims to achieve

Robert Reich

May 19, 2022

Decades ago, America’s wealthy backed a Republican establishment that believed in fiscal conservatism, anti-communism, and constitutional democracy. But today’s billionaire class is pushing a radically anti-democratic agenda for America — backing Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen, calling for restrictions on voting, and even questioning the value of democracy.

Peter Thiel, the billionaire tech financier who is among those leading the charge, writes “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.”

Thiel is using his fortune to squelch democracy. He donated $15 million to the successful Republican Ohio senatorial primary campaign of J.D. Vance, who alleges that the 2020 election was stolen and that Biden’s immigration policy has meant “more Democrat voters pouring into this country.” And Thiel has donated at least $10 million to the Arizona Republican primary race of Blake Masters, who also claims Trump won the 2020 election and admires Lee Kuan Yew, the authoritarian founder of modern Singapore.

The former generation of wealthy conservatives backed candidates like Barry Goldwater, who wanted to conserve American institutions. Thiel and his fellow billionaires in the anti-democracy movement don’t want to conserve much of anything — at least not anything that occurred after the 1920s, including Social Security, civil rights, and even women’s right to vote. As Thiel wrote:

The 1920s were the last decade in American history during which one could be genuinely optimistic about politics. Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of “capitalist democracy” into an oxymoron.

Rubbish. If “capitalist democracy” is becoming an oxymoron, it’s not because of public assistance or because women got the right to vote. It’s because billionaire capitalists like Thiel are drowning democracy in giant campaign donations to authoritarian candidates who repeat Trump’s big lie.

Not incidentally, the 1920s marked the last gasp of the Gilded Age, when America’s rich ripped off so much of the nation’s wealth that the rest had to go deep into debt both to maintain their standard of living and to maintain overall demand for the goods and services the nation produced. When that debt bubble burst in 1929, we got the Great Depression.

It was also the decade when Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler emerged to create the worst threats to freedom and democracy the modern world had ever witnessed.

If freedom is not compatible with democracy, what is it compatible with?  

On Tuesday night, Doug Mastriano, a January 6 insurrectionist and Trump-backed Big Lie conspiracy theorist, won the Republican nomination for governor of Pennsylvania (the fourth largest state in the country, and the biggest state that flipped from 2016 to 2020). Mastriano was directly involved in a scheme to overturn the 2020 election by sending an “alternate” slate of pro-Trump electors to the Electoral College — despite the fact that Trump lost Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes. If Mastriano wins in November, he will appoint Pennsylvania’s secretary of state, who will oversee the 2024 election results in one of the most important battleground states in the country.

Meanwhile, the major annual event of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) — the premier convening organization of the American political right — starts today in Budapest. That’s no accident. The Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban and his ruling Fidesz party have become a prominent source of inspiration for America’s anti-democracy movement. Stephen Bannon, Trump’s former adviser, describes Orban’s agenda as that of a “Trump before Trump.”

Orban has used his opposition to immigration, LGBTQ rights, abortion, and religions other than Christianity as cover for his move toward autocracy — rigging Hungary’s election laws so his party stays in power, capturing independent agencies, controlling the judiciary, and muzzling the press. He remains on such good terms with Vladimir Putin that he’s refused to agree to Europe’s proposed embargo of Russian oil.

Tucker Carlson — Fox News’s progenitor of white replacement theory — will be speaking at CPAC and broadcasting his show from Budapest. Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows will also be speaking (although he refuses to speak to the House committee investigating the January 6 assault on American democracy).

If America and the world should have learned anything from the first Gilded Age and the fascism that began growing like a cancer in the 1920s, it’s that gross inequalities of income and wealth fuel gross inequalities of political power — which in turn lead to strongmen who destroy both democracy and freedom.

Peter Thiel may define freedom as the capacity to amass extraordinary wealth without paying taxes on it, but most of us define it as living under the rule of law with rights against arbitrary authority and a voice in what’s decided.

If we want to guard what’s left of our freedom, we’ll need to meet today’s anti-democracy movement with a bold pro-democracy movement that protects the institutions of self-government both from authoritarian strongmen like Trump and his wannabes, and from big money like Peter Thiel’s.

The Real “Great Replacement” Already Happened

I’ve got a sad story to tell those people who have tied themselves to the lie known as the “Great Replacement theory” … the replacement has already happened.  Oh no, not in the way you think … white people are still a relevant portion of the population in the United States, and unfortunately, they still largely hold the reins of power … white males do, at least.  But the replacement happened many years ago … let me tell you the story.


The story begins in the year 1492 when there were an estimated 10 million people living in an area of land that is now known as the United States.  A Spanish explorer named Cristoforo Colombo stumbled onto a land mass he mistakenly thought was the East Indies, and thus he described the natives he met as “Indians”.  On his first day, he ordered six natives to be seized as servants.

Fast forward to the year 1620 when white European settlers arrived on ‘American’ shores hungry for land—and the abundant natural resources that came with it.  Now, the Indigenous People, the native tribes, saw themselves as stewards of the land, not owners, but the Europeans wanted to own the land.  Forget those cutesy little stories you learned in 1st grade about the Natives and the Europeans sharing that 1st Thanksgiving dinner.  Wake up to the reality … the white men wanted the land, the resources, and to turn the Natives into their slaves.  Over the next 200+ years, they worked hard to accomplish that goal.

The Gnadenhutten Massacre, 1782
Archive Photos/Getty Images

I have neither the time nor energy to give a full history lesson, but in a nutshell, the white men established a ‘government’ that would authorize some 1,500 wars, attacks and raids on the Natives, the most of any country in the world against its Indigenous people.  By the close of the Indian Wars in the late 19th century, fewer than 238,000 Indigenous people remained in the nation now known as the United States, a mere fraction of the 10 million who once made their homes here.

White Americans often feared and resented the Native Americans they encountered. To them, Native Americans seemed to be an unfamiliar, alien people who occupied land that white settlers wanted (and wrongly believed they deserved).

Execution of Dakota Sioux Indians in Mankato, Minnesota, 1862
Library of Congress/Photo12/UIG/Getty Images

In 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed into law the Indian Removal Act, which gave the federal government the power to exchange Native-held land in the cotton kingdom east of the Mississippi for land to the west, in the “Indian colonization zone” that the United States had acquired as part of the Louisiana Purchase. (This “Indian territory” was located in present-day Oklahoma.)  Indigenous Peoples were forced to vacate the land they had lived on for generations, and in the winter of 1831 the Choctaw became the first nation to be expelled from its land altogether. They made the journey to Indian Territory on foot, some bound in chains and without any food, supplies or other help from the government. Thousands of people died along the way. It was, one Choctaw leader told an Alabama newspaper, a “trail of tears and death.”

A painting depicting the Trail of Tears, when Native Americans were forced by law to leave their homelands and move to designated territory in the west Al Moldvay/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The Indian-removal process continued with the Creeks and then the Cherokees.  By 1840, tens of thousands of Native Americans had been driven off of their land in the southeastern states and forced to move across the Mississippi to Indian Territory. The federal government promised that their new land would remain unmolested forever, but as the line of white settlement pushed westward, “Indian Country” shrank and shrank. In 1907, Oklahoma became a state and Indian Territory was gone for good.

Burial of the dead after the massacre of Wounded Knee

That, my friends, was the unconscionable ‘great replacement’ and it was perpetuated by the ancestors of the very people who are spreading lies and conspiracy theories about an attempt to ‘replace’ white people.  What white people did to the Indigenous People of this nation was nothing short of genocide.  Today’s ‘great replacement theory’ is a stupid, nonsensical lie, but also a very dangerous one. People without adequate intellect or education to see through the lie are buying into it, hence the shooting spree that killed 10 and wounded 3 others in Buffalo, New York last weekend.  Next time you hear somebody whine that there is a plot afoot to ‘replace’ white people in this country, tell them this true tale about the real replacement that took place at the hands of their own ancestors.

A Plea For Responsibility

The following is the text of a letter written by Senate Majority Leader Charles (Chuck) Schumer to the head of Fox ‘News’ network.  I fully concur with all that Senator Schumer says and I hope that somewhere under his greed, Mr. Rupert Murdoch has at least a shred of a conscience.  Murdoch and his Fox network are complicit in the murders of 10 people last weekend in Buffalo, New York, as well as countless others in recent years.  Free speech is one thing, but when it is not accompanied by responsibility and accountability, it can destroy lives, destroy a nation.


Dear Mr. Rupert Murdoch et al.:

I write to urge you to immediately cease the reckless amplification of the so-called “Great Replacement” theory on your network’s broadcasts.  Proponents of this white nationalist, far-right conspiracy theory believe that a complicit or cooperative class of elites are advancing a plot designed to undermine the political power and culture of white Americans.  For years, these types of beliefs have existed at the fringes of American life.  However, this pernicious theory, which has no basis in fact, has been injected into the mainstream thanks in large part to a dangerous level of amplification by your network and its anchors.

A recent AP poll found that nearly one third of American adults believe that a group of people is trying to replace native-born Americans with immigrants for electoral gains.  That same poll found that your viewers are nearly three times more likely to believe in Replacement Theory than other networks.  This should come as no surprise, given the central role these themes have played in your network’s programming in recent years.  A recent New York Times investigation found that Tucker Carlson alone amplified this dangerous and unfounded theory in more than 400 episodes of his show.

I urge you to take into consideration the very real impacts of the dangerous rhetoric being broadcast on your network on a nightly basis.  In 2018, a white man who killed 11 worshipers in a Pittsburgh synagogue blamed Jews for allowing immigrant “invaders” into the United States.  In 2019, a white man who expressed anger over “the Hispanic invasion of Texas” killed 23 people at an El Paso Walmart and later told the police he had sought to kill Mexicans.  And just days ago in Buffalo, a white man killed 10 people in a supermarket on the city’s predominantly Black east side.  In a manifesto posted online, the individual responsible for this heinous murder wrote that the shoppers there came from a culture that sought to “ethnically replace my own people.”

These incidents alone, to say nothing of the many more which have occurred in recent years, have led to dozens of lives being lost and countless others irreversibly impacted.  The devastation and despair that families and communities feel in the wake of these incidents cannot be overstated.  For instance, my constituents in east Buffalo who will be forced to relive this tragic event every single time they visit the supermarket for a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk.  It is on their behalf, and on behalf of the residents in communities in Pittsburgh, El Paso, and cities around the country who bear the consequences of this hateful ideology that I write you.

While it was good to see the Wall Street Journal Editorial board write that “Politicians and media figures have an obligation to condemn … such conspiratorial notions as ‘white replacement theory’”, words of condemnation are hardly enough.  To this end, I implore you to immediately cease all dissemination of false white nationalist, far-right conspiracy theories on your network.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

CC: Tucker Carlson

Wednesday wanderings in mid-May

As always, our friend Keith puts into words what many of us are thinking and feeling. Please pay special attention to his final paragraph, for these are the questions we need to be asking, and the issues on which we need to hold our elected representatives accountable. As always, thank you Keith!!!

musingsofanoldfart

We should have another warm day here, so walking may make us “glisten,” a word my wife uses for perspiration. So, as we glisten on our walk about, let me share a few of my wandering thoughts.

The votes from yesterday’s mid-term primaries are being tallied, so I will save commentary for another day, with two exceptions. With almost 100% of the votes counted, it looks like Rep. Madison Cawthorn will be unseated in his first election as an incumbent. His failure to: realize on three occasions a driver needs a driver license, understand he cannot carry a weapon onto a plane on two occasions, appreciate claiming your Republican colleagues are having orgies and coke parties is not the way to make friends, and recognize that not doing much of anything other than abet the former president’s Big Lie and insurrection of Congress is not conducive to good governance. It…

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