A Powerful Question

Yesterday, our friend Nan posted a question asked by Robert Reich and this may well be one of his best pieces ever! I was impressed enough to want to share it. Thank you, Nan … and Robert! (I actually thought I had re-blogged this yesterday afternoon, and didn’t find out until late last night that I had it all set up but forgot to hit the “Reblog Post” button! Senility is setting in!)

Nan's Notebook

blue_question

OK … I’m doing it again. But this is something that NEEDS to be shared. It was written by Robert Reich (via Substack):

A personal question to powerful people who continue to deny the results of the 2020 election

What do you tell yourself in private?

I have a serious question for people who have power in America and who continue to deny the outcome of the 2020 election and enable Trump’s Big Lie: What are you saying to yourself in private? How are you justifying yourself in your own mind?

I don’t mean to be snide or snarky. I’m genuinely curious.

I’m not interested in Trump’s answer to this question. He is too far gone — lost in the depths of his own pathological ego. I’m also not asking the millions of Trump followers, Fox News viewers, and rightwing social media fans who have been fed the Big…

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The Lies Are Deadly

My jaw dropped when I read the variety of reasons (or rather excuses, excuses, excuses) Republicans have come up with for mass shootings in the U.S.  Hint:  not a single one of them blames the problem on easy access to guns.  Among their reasons are:

  • Abortion (Fox ‘News’ host Mark Levin)
  • ‘Lecturing women’ (Fox ‘News’ host Tucker Carlson)
  • ‘Regular pot use’ (Fox ‘News’ host Laura Ingraham)

And yet another Fox host, Greg Gutfeld, claims that the way to stop mass shootings is to simply ignore them.  Yep, you heard right … he claims that if the media refuse to cover mass shootings, they will “decrease by 30%, 40%, 50%”.  Oh, to live in such a world of abject ignorance.

The tragedy is that some 30% of the people in this country actually watch Fox as their main new source, sometimes their only news source.  Those same people tend not to be college-educated, not to be deep thinkers, and to be easily swayed by rhetoric that plays on their emotions.  I know it’s not possible to simply shut Fox ‘News’ down, for that would be an infringement on the 1st Amendment, but I do wonder, if Fox went away tomorrow, how many minds could be awakened between now and November?  Enough, possibly, to make a real difference in the upcoming election and future elections, perhaps even enough to convince people to THINK on occasion.

The lies and conspiracy theories floating throughout the air waves pose a direct, distinct threat to the security of the nation and its people.  In April, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced the formation of a board to monitor national security threats caused by the spread of dangerous disinformation.  But alas, the Republicans went ape-shit crazy, calling it Orwellian and even some Democrats made the valid point questioning the powers that such an office might wield in the hands of future Republican administrations.  And so, the board has been ‘paused’, likely never to see the light of day again in this administration.

So, how DO we counter the lies and falsehoods, the conspiracy theories that have already led to violence and death?  If we cannot demand truth from all media outlets who call themselves ‘news’ outlets, and we cannot regulate the lies from within the government, what is left?  Education.  But we currently have too many states where the lies are infiltrating even our schools with the sanction and blessing of state governments.  Florida, for example, refuses to allow the teaching of concepts that could make students, “feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any form of psychological distress” for actions “committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex or national origin.”

So how in hell are we to educate the next generation if the current generation is too cowardly to face the truth.  Yes, slaves – people from the African continent, people with Black skin – were brought here in the 17th century and sold … yes, SOLD like property … to white men who used them to perform backbreaking labour and paid them nothing, but beat them half to death if they underperformed.  Yes, we turned away a ship, the MS St. Louis, filled with Jews seeking asylum from an evil anti-Semitic dictator and sent many of them to their subsequent deaths.  And yes, this nation’s white government stole both property and freedom from Japanese-American citizens during World War II simply because they were of Japanese ethnicity.  And the very worst was the first … when white people first arrived on this land, they murdered and stole the land of the Indigenous People who were here long before white men came here seeking asylum from tyranny.  Isn’t it ironic that they inflicted the same treatment, only worse, on people that they themselves were fleeing?

Do you see a trend here?  Black people, Jews, Japanese, Indigenous … BIGOTRYRACISM!  But yet, we are not to teach our children of these events and many, many more because it might “make them feel guilt.”  Let them feel guilt!  Let them at least try to put things to right, to make up for the crimes of their ancestors, to strive for a better nation, one where EVERYONE is welcome and treated equally! A world where justice doesn’t mean something entirely different for Black people than it means for white people. But instead, we are to allow them to grow up as ignorant as their parents are … more so, actually, for the parents know the truth but choose willful ignorance over intelligent thought.

I know what the ultimate solution to the dangerous lies and conspiracy theories will ultimately have to be, and so do you if you think about it, but it is not the one I would have chosen.  It is a battle I once thought we had already won.

The Week’s Best Cartoons 6/11

There always seems to be one topic at the forefront that gets the most attention from the political cartoonists, and this week it is no surprise that it’s the televised hearings of the House Committee that has been tasked with investigating the events leading up to and during the attempted coup on January 6, 2021.  And the second most popular topic, again understandably, is the gun insanity that has swept this nation.  As she does so brilliantly every week, TokyoSand has gone through them and selected the ‘pick of the litter’ for our cartoon viewing pleasure.  Please do click on the link at the end of this post to see all the cartoons, for what I have here is but a small sampling.  Thank you once again, TS!


Here’s how editorial cartoonists covered the start of the January 6th Committee hearings.

be sure to check out the rest of the ‘toons!

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

Anti-Vax Lunacy

I am as stubborn as they come, but I am fully vaccinated.  Why, you ask?  Because I believe that while I have every right to take chances with my own life, I have absolutely NO RIGHT to put others in danger.  It’s called ‘having a social conscience.’  It’s called ‘caring about others.’  It’s called ‘doing the right thing.’

I am appalled by those who have cited every excuse in the book for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID.  This pandemic has killed over 4 million people around the world … 623,029 in the United States, as of this writing, though by the time you are reading it, the number will be even higher.  And WE … You and I … have the key to stopping it in our hands.  If we fail to use that key, then we are complicit in those deaths.

The excuses are myriad and utterly without merit … in other words, the excuses are the epitome of stupidity.  Here are just a few (along with my non-scientific, sometimes snide rebuttals in blue):

  • We don’t know what the long-term side effects are. (So?  We DO know what the long-term effects of the coronavirus are … one of which is death!)
  • The vaccine might hurt my fertility. (So???  The world is already over-populated and with climate change, food and water resources are getting scarcer by the day … you don’t need any more kids!)
  • It’s none of your business if I don’t get vaccinated. (Oh hold on just a second there, madame!  It is the business of every single person on this planet!  We are, in case you haven’t noticed, all in this together!  Wake up and smell the f*cking coffee!)
  • I’m young and healthy, so I don’t need to get vaccinated. (Ha ha ha ha ha ha … first, ask some of the young people who are still suffering symptoms months after getting COVID.  Second, you can still transmit it to others … do you have parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers???  Why not think of somebody besides yourself just for once?)
  • These vaccines only have emergency use authorization, not full FDA approval. (Yeah, and your point is?  Do you realize how long full FDA approval takes?  Do you see the drop in cases since the vaccine has been widely accepted?  )
  • I don’t want to get Covid-19 from the vaccine. (Oh for Pete’s sake … you cannot get COVID from the vaccine! None of them contain so much as a smidge of the actual virus!)
  • My faith will protect me, so I don’t need to get vaccinated. (My jaw drops on this one.  A lot of the 3,000+ people who died in the planes, in the World Trade Center, and in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania on September 11th, 2001, had faith even stronger than yours and it did not protect them.  Faith is a state of mind, it will not protect you from real world situations.  How ‘bout you take my hand and let me lead you to that nice doctor over there who can ‘splain this to you better than I can?)
  • I might not be able to afford a vaccine. (It’s free, stupid. The government is footing the bill on this one, for they want you to stay alive, though I have no idea why!)

And those are just the relatively sane excuses!  Others run along the lines of conspiracy theories such as Bill Gates has arranged to implant some sort of microchip into your body via the vaccine, or it’s a government plot to turn your brain into spinach soufflé.  (Note to readers … anybody who believes the conspiracy theories brain is already spinach soufflé or oatmeal … not sure which)

The propaganda network, Fox “News”, has played a large role in instigating the anti-vaccine movement and in my book, some of the deaths we are seeing today are on their hands.  Not only the brainless Tucker Carlson, but other Fox ‘hosts’ have denigrated the vaccine, urged their not-so-bright viewers to ‘resist’ the call to be vaccinated … this despite the fact that Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox, was vaccinated last December!  YO RUPERT … find your conscience … I think I saw it standing outside your broker’s office on Wall Street!

The US averaged about 19,455 coronavirus cases over the last seven days, a 47% increase over the previous week. Fully a third of those are coming from five hot spots: Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri and Nevada, all states with low vaccination rates.

Generally speaking, I would argue that what goes into my body is my choice.  However, I make my choices based on a myriad of informed sources, I respect scientific data, and I understand that sometimes we must make decisions without having perfect information.  With that said, I could see no alternative other than to become vaccinated.  But, until the rest of the nation opens their eyes, this nation will continue to see new cases, new variants, new protective mandates, and yes, new deaths.  Those who continue to hold out, who continue to argue and engage in conspiracy theories that don’t even make sense, will keep this nation under COVID’s thumb.

Understanding Our Present — CRT: Part II

In Part I, I provided a bit of the history of racism in the U.S., how it started and how it has expanded and morphed through the centuries.  Today, I want to talk a bit more at length about Critical Race Theory, the facts vs the rhetoric we’ve all been hearing from certain politicians and the likes of Fox ‘News’.

Critical Race Theory (CRT) proposes that racism is systemic, that it is built into our very foundations and institutions, for it has been a part of the “American Way” since the first white settlers landed on the Eastern shores of this nation.  Contrary to what you have heard by people such as Tucker Carlson, CRT is NOT taught in elementary nor secondary schools today, though I would argue vehemently that it should be.  If we teach our children only half of the story, then we are painting a picture of a nation that simply does not exist.  If we teach about how the thirteen colonies so bravely fought the British for their independence in the 18th century, if we teach about the heroes from that effort, then we must also teach them about the fact that even 17 of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 owned slaves!  We must also teach them that 8 of the nation’s first 12 presidents were also slave owners.  This, too, is part of our history.

How many times of late have you heard it said that the U.S. is not a racist nation, or is the least racist nation in the world?  I’ve heard it far too many times from those who are either ignorant, are wearing blinders by choice, or have an ulterior motive (politicians).  Think about how many unarmed Black people have been killed by police … with little or no provocation.  And if that doesn’t convince you, look closer to home.  In your own community there likely resides at least one ‘Karen’.  For those who may not know, ‘Karen’ is the latest buzzword for a white female who considers herself privileged, socially superior to others, especially Black people.  She is the one who calls the police demanding the neighbor kids’ lemonade stand be shut down, or demanding Black residents be removed from the apartment complex swimming pool.  She’s the one who calls the police saying a Black man is threatening her, when all he did was ask her nicely to put her dog on a leash in the park.  And Karen is the woman who comes out of her house with a loaded gun threatening to shoot peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters who are simply walking past her house, on the sidewalk, on their way to the mayor’s office.  If there is no racism in the U.S., then how do you explain these Karens?

Patricia McCloskey, St. Louis, Missouri, 28 June 2020

Critical Race Theory was developed by legal scholars in the 1970s as a way to explain the lack of racial progress following the civil rights legislation of the 1960s.  So, it has been around for nearly 50 years, yet today, all of a sudden, it is causing an uproar, primarily led by the Republican Party who has convinced a great many people that this is some evil being perpetrated on white people to … what?  I’ve heard a number of ridiculous claims – that CRT is being taught in schools in order to make schoolchildren hate white people.  This is an outright lie.  There is little to no evidence that critical race theory itself is being taught to K-12 public school students, though some ideas central to it, such as lingering consequences of slavery, have been and should be taught.

Those who rail against CRT are the same ones you’ve heard say that they fear Caucasians becoming a minority in this nation.  WHO CARES???  I don’t care if there are more white people, more Black people, more Hispanic people … I care what’s inside those people, not their skin colour for Pete’s sake!  Personally, I think brown and black skin is much more attractive than white skin anyway!  But, let me tell you something … once you look beneath the skin, everything looks exactly alike no matter what the person’s skin colour was.  The heart is shaped the same, the two kidneys are exactly the same.  The difference is non-existent.

Nobody with an education and a functional mind can deny that this nation does have some very dark areas in its history, and neither can they deny that racism is still very much alive and well in the U.S.  So why all of a sudden has Critical Race Theory become such a controversial topic?  Let’s take a look at that …

You remember last summer, after the brutal murder of George Floyd by then-police officer Derek Chauvin that there were many Black Lives Matter protests around the nation, and even in other nations around the globe, including France and the UK.  Those protests were largely peaceful by the Black community, however agitators were sent in by the likes of the Proud Boys and other white supremacist groups to start trouble, and ultimately BLM protests received much negative press.  At the time, we had a very much racist person in the Oval Office and he began attacking anything that dealt with America’s racist past … or present.  He cancelled diversity training in the various branches of government, he slammed the New York Times’ very worthy 1619 Project, and every other attempt to shine a light on our racist past, including … you guessed it … Critical Race Theory.  He even issued an executive order banning federal contractors from conducting racial sensitivity training, emphasizing his desire to stop “efforts to indoctrinate government employees with divisive and harmful sex- and race-based ideologies.”

Fox “News” jumped on the bandwagon, as did Republican lawmakers at both the state and federal level, and today there are 27 states that are trying to make any form of anti-racist teaching or training against the law!

Y’know … if you spill grease on your carpet, you can cover it up with a rug so nobody sees it, but the grease is still there, the stain is spreading, and someday somebody will trip over that rug and expose your ugly stain.  More importantly, that grease is damaging the foundation, the flooring beneath the carpet.

The Republican Party has turned the term Critical Race Theory into its boogeyman of the year, claiming that schools are teaching children that those with white skin are inherently evil (hmmmm … sounds familiar, only in reverse).  They are telling parents that CRT poses a threat to parental control of the world views of their own children — as “brainwashing” or “indoctrination” rather than as simply encouragement to think critically and independently.  And good ol’ Fox ‘News’ is doing its share to promote the lies, having mentioned CRT no less than 1,300 times since March!

In Nevada, where critical race theory hysteria is only just beginning, a conservative group suggested that teachers wear body cameras to ensure they’re not teaching critical race theory. In Loudoun County, Virginia, a group of conservative parents is attempting to recall school board members after the district required teacher training in “systemic oppression and implicit bias.”

I’ve rambled enough tonight, given you enough to ponder and chew on.  Far too many people simply do not understand that CRT is merely a way of understanding and explaining why racist ideology is still built into our institutions, our laws, schools, and courts.  It is not an evil developed to undermine that which is, or once was, good about this nation, but to try to point out the bad as well, so that we can correct our way of thinking and NOT make the same mistakes we’ve made in the past, to become a better nation.  We do our children a disservice when we teach them only the bright, shining points of the nation’s history, for what we are today is a compilation of the good, the bad, and the ugly.  You cannot simply erase the bad and the ugly.

I don’t plan on a Part III to this series, for I think I’ve said most of what I wanted to say, however … if anybody would like to ask questions or start further discussion on the topic, I would be more than happy to devote another post to it.  Racism … all forms of bigotry … is one of the issues nearest and dearest to my heart, and anytime I can help people better understand, I’m happy to do so.

Can’t Win Honestly? Then Cheat!

It’s a sad statement when one of the two political parties is so certain they cannot win in a fair and honest election that rather than change their ways, they do everything in their power (and some things that really are not in their legitimate power) to ensure half the people in the nation will not be able to cast a ballot in upcoming elections.  It is the equivalent of a child sneaking a cookie before supper, for he knows if he asks, he will be told “No, not until after supper.”  Only with much more serious and far-reaching consequences.

Today, Florida Governor and 2024 presidential hopeful, Ron DeSantis signed into law an extremely restrictive voter suppression law that he claims will place guardrails against fraud, even as he acknowledged there were no serious signs of voting irregularities last November.  But, DeSantis and the entirety of the Republican Party feel threatened by the fact that times are changing, people are becoming less tolerant of the bigotry that is the cornerstone of the Republican Party and … well, if you can’t win honestly, then you cheat, right?

The media, for the most part, was not allowed in to view the signing ceremony.  One exception:  Fox ‘News’.  Go figure.  DeSantis staged the signing on a live broadcast of Fox & Friends this morning, flanked by a small group of GOP legislators in Palm Beach County.  Other media organizations were shut out.  Freedom of press???  Or is that, like voting rights, being killed?

Look closely at the picture … see any Black faces there?  But it isn’t only Blacks and Hispanics the Republican governor and legislators are trying to disenfranchise.  According to Patricia Brigham, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida …

“The legislation has a deliberate and disproportionate impact on elderly voters, voters with disabilities, students and communities of color. It’s a despicable attempt by a one party ruled legislature to choose who can vote in our state and who cannot. It’s undemocratic, unconstitutional, and un-American.”

Do you remember when you were in school and each morning you had to stand and recite that ‘pledge of allegiance’ to the flag?  Being the rebel I am and have always been, I stopped doing that by about 2nd grade, and no matter what they threatened me with, I refused to stand or say the words that even back then rang false. I followed the example of Colin Kaepernick, before he was even born!  One line in that pledge calls the United States “one nation, indivisible …”.  Apparently, they were wrong.  I think they better be re-thinking that one and calling it “one nation, deeply divided”.

Within minutes of DeSantis signing the bill into law, lawsuits were filed.  The League of Women Voters of Florida joined the Black Voters Matter Fund, the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, and others in assailing the new law in a federal lawsuit filed minutes after the signing.  A separate lawsuit by the NAACP and Common Cause alleges that the new law makes it more difficult for people who are Black, Latino or disabled to vote.

My hope is that the courts will strike down all these restrictive measures too many states are taking to try to disenfranchise us, to shove their will down our throats, but sadly I’m not as confident of that as I once was.

Ranting … Again

I am disappointed and angry at a large portion of the people in this nation.  I really thought we were better than this, but the number of people who simply have zero concern for others is … overwhelming.  Those who still, five months after the election, have their heads stuck up their rears is astounding, but worse yet … compassion among those same people is dead.  I hope … I sincerely hope … that this nation can mend its broken fences, that people can learn to live together without hatred and bigotry, but each and every day the news makes that hope seem less and less possible.  I have three snarky snippets tonight … the first one is just for laughs, but the other two have sent me even deeper into the rabbit hole.


Still good for a few laughs

You just have to laugh when you read that former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany says that liars should be held accountable.  When McEnany took over the job of press secretary, the very first words out of her mouth were her first public lie … she said she would never lie to the press, and then she proceeded to tell lie after lie after lie.  So … should she be held accountable?  McEnany now works for … wait for it … Fox ‘News’, and as such she appeared on Sean Hannity’s show to discuss the controversy surrounding Florida Governor Ron DeSantis …

“It’s just really important to point out that the standard is so high to hold any of these news organizations accountable. You have to prove intentional malice. It is extremely hard to prove. It’s why 60 Minutes — It’s why the left, MSNBC, CNN, they get away with murder each and every day. They can say whatever they want because you can’t hold them accountable. It’s a travesty.”

Right, Kayleigh, and can we now hold you accountable for the hundreds of lies you told in your relatively brief tenure as press secretary?  How many lies did you attempt to feed the public, using the press as your bullhorn?  What a hypocrite!


Where did they leave their brains?

Yes, I know that rage and fury are self-defeating, that they don’t help anything.  But I made the mistake of looking at comments on one of President Biden’s tweets this afternoon and … I am furious at the ignorance, the stupidity, the blindness of some in this ‘country’.

The comments were on President Biden’s tweet reading …

Not one damn thing that should stir controversy there, right?  Not like the tweets of the former guy who cursed, lied, denigrated others, incited violence, and ranted in nearly every one of the tens of thousands of tweets he posted.  But yet, leave it to the fools and idiots to find a way to bitch …

And it went on and on and on.  You’ll note that not a single one of these actually addresses the topic of Biden’s tweet, but rather go off on their own agenda.  Yes, there were some positive comments, but at the time I saw the post, the negative outweighed the positive by about 2-to-1.  Is this really the nation we’ve become???  If it is, I want out … NOW!

Do these freaks not understand that they drive over those unsafe bridges, they ride the unsafe railways, they drink the damn tap water that is contaminated with lead?  Are they really so damned stupid?  Yes, the answer is obvious … it was, after all, a rhetorical question. 

As I see it, there is no longer a “United States”, only a conglomeration of states peopled with both intelligent people of good conscience, fools like those above, and the majority of us somewhere in between.  I cannot be united with someone who, despite overwhelming proof and evidence, still claims last year’s election was “rigged”.  I cannot be a citizen of the same country as a person who is so ignorant that they are shooting themselves and their children in the foot by fighting against policies that will help them, their families, and future generations.  I cannot … I will not.

Naturally, I responded with my own snarky brand of vitriol … thus far, I haven’t been suspended from Twitter … yet.  Don’t really care if I am, if they are given over to the fools who haven’t got brains in their heads!


They’re CHILDREN, for Pete’s sake!

A child is a child, whether it’s your child or mine, whether it’s a John or a Jill, whether it is dark-skinned or light, whether it wears its hair in braids or has a buzz cut.  A child is a child and they are, each and every one, precious.  They are the future of this world, if in fact the world as we know it has a future.  And yet … the folks over at Fox ‘News’ seem to think otherwise.

Last month, the San Diego County Office of Education put out a completely voluntary call asking teachers in the region for their time. The reason: the city’s convention center will be holding as many as 1,450 unaccompanied children, all girls, as sponsors (usually a relative already here) are sought out for them. “We want to instill hope, instill joy, and show care for our students while they are with us, no matter if that’s for a few days or a few months,” San Diego County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Gothold said according to Border Report.

By the end of the month, about a dozen teachers had signed up to volunteer their time, some of it likely after day hours, for these children.  A dozen???  That’s all?  Only a dozen out of how many thousands in the area?  But to the point … Fox ‘News’ seems to have a problem with this and decided to make it a target of their never-ending bigotry.  Their headline read …

“San Diego public school teachers to give migrant kids in-person instruction before their own students.”

The article included a quote from a parent in San Diego, who said that “what is happening right now is immoral” and asked, “Why are taxpaying students put last?” The article also quoted Rep. Darrell Issa, a U.S. Representative from California, who said, “The decision to provide in-person instruction to illegal migrants is outrageous and parents have every right to be angry.” 

Fox anchors Shannon Bream and Bill Hemmer both treated the story as if they had uncovered some mass criminal investigation … the education of children.  Wow, way to show compassion, Fox!  But it didn’t end there, and to date Fox has covered this story some 30 times!  For additional details, check out the full story on Media Matters

A Sensible Republican — Last Of A Dying Breed

The day of the sensible, reasonable, intelligent Republican seems to be long gone.  Way back when, I’ve even voted for Republicans, but I cannot picture ever doing so again, for the party has devolved into something ugly … a bunch who would rather burn down this nation than compromise, than meet Democrats on some middle ground.  John Boehner was one of the last Republicans for whom I had a great deal of respect, though I often disagreed with him.  He has written a book, due out on Tuesday, April 13th, that I have pre-ordered and plan to read.  What follows is an excerpt from that book, and I think you’ll be surprised when you read some of his words.

In the 2010 midterm election, voters from all over the place gave President Obama what he himself called “a shellacking.” And oh boy, was it ever. You could be a total moron and get elected just by having an R next to your name—and that year, by the way, we did pick up a fair number in that category.

Retaking control of the House of Representatives put me in line to be the next Speaker of the House over the largest freshman Republican class in history: 87 newly elected members of the GOP. Since I was presiding over a large group of people who’d never sat in Congress, I felt I owed them a little tutorial on governing. I had to explain how to actually get things done. A lot of that went straight through the ears of most of them, especially the ones who didn’t have brains that got in the way. Incrementalism? Compromise? That wasn’t their thing. A lot of them wanted to blow up Washington. That’s why they thought they were elected.

Some of them, well, you could tell they weren’t paying attention because they were just thinking of how to fundraise off of outrage or how they could get on Hannity that night. Ronald Reagan used to say something to the effect that if I get 80 or 90 percent of what I want, that’s a win. These guys wanted 100 percent every time. In fact, I don’t think that would satisfy them, because they didn’t really want legislative victories. They wanted wedge issues and conspiracies and crusades.

To them, my talk of trying to get anything done made me a sellout, a dupe of the Democrats, and a traitor. Some of them had me in their sights from day one. They saw me as much of an “enemy” as the guy in the White House. Me, a guy who had come to the top of the leadership by exposing corruption and pushing conservative ideas. Now I was a “liberal collaborator.” So that took some getting used to. What I also had not anticipated was the extent to which this new crowd hated—and I mean hated—Barack Obama.

By 2011, the right-wing propaganda nuts had managed to turn Obama into a toxic brand for conservatives. When I was first elected to Congress, we didn’t have any propaganda organization for conservatives, except maybe a magazine or two like National Review. The only people who used the internet were some geeks in Palo Alto. There was no Drudge Report. No Breitbart. No kooks on YouTube spreading dangerous nonsense like they did every day about Obama.

“He’s a secret Muslim!”

“He hates America!”

“He’s a communist!”

And of course the truly nutty business about his birth certificate. People really had been brainwashed into believing Barack Obama was some Manchurian candidate planning to betray America.

Mark Levin was the first to go on the radio and spout off this crazy nonsense. It got him ratings, so eventually he dragged Hannity and Rush to Looneyville along with him. My longtime friend Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News, was not immune to this. He got swept into the conspiracies and the paranoia and became an almost unrecognizable figure.

I’d known Ailes for a long time, since his work with George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s. He’d gone to college in Ohio, and since we had that connection, he sought me out at some event and introduced himself. Years later, in August of 1996, when I was in San Diego for the Republican National Convention, I ended up having dinner with Ailes and a veteran broadcasting executive named Rupert Murdoch. At that dinner they told me all about this new TV network they were starting. I had no idea I was listening to the outline of something that would make my life a living hell down the line. Sure enough, that October, Fox News hit the airwaves.

I kept in touch with Roger and starting in the early 2000s, I’d stop in and see him whenever I was in New York for fundraisers. We’d shoot the breeze and talk politics. We got to know each other pretty well.

Murdoch, on the other hand, was harder to know. Sometimes he’d invite me to watch the Super Bowl in the Fox box, or he’d stop by the office. Wherever he was, you could tell he was the man in charge. He was a businessman, pure and simple. He cared about ratings and the bottom line. He also wanted to make sure he was ahead of any political or policy developments coming down the line. He was always asking who was up, who was down, what bills could pass and what couldn’t. If he entertained any of the kooky conspiracy theories that started to take over his network, he kept it a secret from me. But he clearly didn’t have a problem with them if they helped ratings.

At some point after the 2008 election, something changed with my friend Roger Ailes. I once met him in New York during the Obama years to plead with him to put a leash on some of the crazies he was putting on the air. It was making my job trying to accomplish anything conservative that much harder. I didn’t expect this meeting to change anything, but I still thought it was bullshit, and I wanted Roger to know it.

When I put it to him like that, he didn’t have much to say. But he did go on and on about the terrorist attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, which he thought was part of a grand conspiracy that led back to Hillary Clinton. Then he outlined elaborate plots by which George Soros and the Clintons and Obama (and whoever else came to mind) were trying to destroy him.

“They’re monitoring me,” he assured me about the Obama White House. He told me he had a “safe room” built so he couldn’t be spied on. His mansion was being protected by combat-ready security personnel, he said. There was a lot of conspiratorial talk. It was like he’d been reading whacked-out spy novels all weekend.

And it was clear that he believed all of this crazy stuff. I walked out of that meeting in a daze. I just didn’t believe the entire federal government was so terrified of Roger Ailes that they’d break about a dozen laws to bring him down. I thought I could get him to control the crazies, and instead I found myself talking to the president of the club. One of us was crazy. Maybe it was me.

I have no idea what the relationship between Ailes and Murdoch was like, or if Ailes ever would go off on these paranoid tangents during meetings with his boss. But Murdoch must have thought Ailes was good for business, because he kept him in his job for years.

Places like Fox News were creating the wrong incentives. Sean Hannity was one of the worst. I’d known him for years, and we used to have a good relationship. But then he decided he felt like busting my ass every night on his show. So one day, in January of 2015, I finally called him and asked: “What the hell?” I wanted to know why he kept bashing House Republicans when we were actually trying to stand up to Obama.

“Well, you guys don’t have a plan,” he whined.

“Look,” I told him, “our plan is pretty simple: we’re just going to stand up for what we believe in as Republicans.”

I guess that wasn’t good enough for him. The conversation didn’t progress very far. At some point I called him a nut. Anyway, it’s safe to say our relationship never got any better.

Besides the homegrown “talent” at Fox, with their choice of guests they were making people who used to be fringe characters into powerful media stars. One of the first prototypes out of their laboratory was a woman named Michele Bachmann.

Bachmann, who had represented Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District since 2007 and made a name for herself as a lunatic ever since, came to meet with me in the busy period in late 2010 after the election. She wanted a seat on the Ways and Means Committee, the most powerful committee in the House. There were many members in line ahead of her for a post like this. People who had waited patiently for their turn and who also, by the way, weren’t wild-eyed crazies.

There was no way she was going to get on Ways and Means, the most prestigious committee in Congress, and jump ahead of everyone else in line. Not while I was Speaker. In earlier days, a member of Congress in her position wouldn’t even have dared ask for something like this. Sam Rayburn would have laughed her out of the city.

So I told her no—diplomatically, of course. But as she kept on talking, it dawned on me. This wasn’t a request of the Speaker of the House. This was a demand.

Her response to me was calm and matter-of-fact. “Well, then I’ll just have to go talk to Sean Hannity and everybody at Fox,” she said, “and Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and everybody else on the radio, and tell them that this is how John Boehner is treating the people who made it possible for the Republicans to take back the House.”

I wasn’t the one with the power, she was saying. I just thought I was. She had the power now.

She was right, of course.

She was a conservative media darling and, by then, the conservative media was already eyeing me skeptically. She had me where it hurt. Even if I wanted to help her, and I sure as hell didn’t, it wasn’t a decision I had the power to make on my own. That power belongs to a little-known but very important group called the Steering Committee.

I knew there was no way the Steering Committee would approve putting Bachmann on Ways and Means. The votes just weren’t there. If I even pushed the issue, they wouldn’t have let me leave the meeting without fastening me into a straitjacket. But then, Bachmann wouldn’t go on TV and the radio to explain the nuances of House Steering Committee procedure. She’d just rip my head off every night, over and over again. That was a headache I frankly didn’t want or need.

I suggested the House Intelligence committee to Bachmann as an alternative, and mercifully, she liked it. It would be a good perch for anyone wanting to build up their foreign policy chops for a run for president, which she was already considering— Lord help us all. None too pleased was the man preparing to take up the gavel as chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers from Michigan, an army veteran who had also served in the FBI. So I took my lumps from Rogers, and Bachmann took her seat on the committee.

The funny thing is, Michele Bachmann turned out to be a very focused, hardworking member—even though she spent a few months later in 2011 on a short-lived campaign for president. She showed up to the committee, did her homework, and ended up winning over her fellow members with her dedication. Mike Rogers was impressed—and I have to admit, so was I. The whole situation ended up working out well for everyone. As one of those old Boehnerisms goes, “Get the right people on the bus, and help them find the right seat.”

In January 2011, as the new Republican House majority was settling in and I was getting adjusted to the Speakership, I was asked about the birth certificate business by Brian Williams of NBC News. My answer was simple: “The state of Hawaii has said that President Obama was born there. That’s good enough for me.” It was a simple statement of fact. But you would have thought I’d called Ronald Reagan a communist. I got all kinds of shit for it—emails, letters, phone calls. It went on for a couple weeks. I knew we would hear from some of the crazies, but I was surprised at just how many there really were.

All of this crap swirling around was going to make it tough for me to cut any deals with Obama as the new House Speaker. Of course, it has to be said that Obama didn’t help himself much either. He could come off as lecturing and haughty. He still wasn’t making Republican outreach a priority. But on the other hand—how do you find common cause with people who think you are a secret Kenyan Muslim traitor to America?

Under the new rules of Crazytown, I may have been Speaker, but I didn’t hold all the power. By 2013 the chaos caucus in the House had built up their own power base thanks to fawning right-wing media and outrage-driven fundraising cash. And now they had a new head lunatic leading the way, who wasn’t even a House member. There is nothing more dangerous than a reckless asshole who thinks he is smarter than everyone else. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Senator Ted Cruz. He enlisted the crazy caucus of the GOP in what was a truly dumbass idea. Not that anybody asked me.

NO, Dr. Seuss Isn’t ‘Cancel Culture’!!!

Let’s talk about this hullabaloo some people are calling ‘cancel culture’.  I wrote a post a while back about the so-called cancel culture, and to me it’s a meaningless, made-up phrase, but since it’s being bandied about like a ping pong ball this week, let’s examine a couple of things, starting with the folks who are up in arms over Dr. Seuss.

On Tuesday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which oversees the 20th-century children’s author’s estate, announced that it had decided to discontinue publication and licensing of six books by Theodor Seuss Geisel, saying, “These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” Though four of the six books are basically unknown and make up a fraction of the author’s oeuvre, Fox News and other conservative voices, as if on autopilot, are treating the decision as another example of “cancel culture.”

Note that it was not I, nor any other person the republicans like to call snowflakes and bleeding heart liberals who decided to discontinue the books … it was the author’s representatives, the owners of the books!  And yet, I’ve seen story after story about how liberals are now canceling Dr. Seuss.  For the record, Theodor Seuss Geisel wrote and illustrated more than 60 books under the pen name Dr. Seuss.  More than 60!  That means, that even with 6 being taken out of publication, there are still at least 54 books to read to your children/grandchildren!

Now, about that hullaballoo.  Times change, societies evolve, things that were widely used 50-100 years ago become obsolete.  We evolve, we grow, we learn … well, some of us do anyway.  And as we learn and grow, some things will inevitably go by the wayside.  Terms and images that were once thought acceptable are no longer so, as we’ve learned that they are hurtful to others. This isn’t ‘cancel culture’ or anything like it, this is evolution, this is a society trying to be better than it once was.

You don’t still use grandma’s old wringer washing machine to do your laundry, do you?  Or drive your grandfather’s old Model-T?  The owners of the Dr. Seuss books evaluated and decided it was time to evolve, time to put racism and racist remarks in the past, to move forward in a more diverse, inclusive society.  Anybody who is up in arms over this obviously doesn’t understand how the world works.  And leave it to the likes of Fox News to play those ignorant people like fiddles, to pour fuel on a fire that didn’t even exist until Fox lit the match, and to find a way … any way … to blame those who are trying to put out the flames of bigotry in this nation.

I’ve heard those who call this ‘book banning’ and ‘censorship’ … it is neither.  No library, religious group, school or government made the decision to stop publishing these books … the books’ owners made the decision, as was their right to do.  Kevin McCarthy, Matt Gaetz, Marco Rubio and others in government have erroneously made such ignorant remarks such as …

“First, they outlaw Dr. Seuss and now they want to tell us what to say.” – House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy

“When history looks back at this time it will be held up as an example of a depraved sociopolitical purge driven by hysteria and lunacy.” – Senator Marco Rubio

“While we’re able to joke about the absurdity of these things, tonight, each and every day Americans have to decide whether or not to self-censor, to self-cancel, to maybe not fly their America First flag in full but rather half mast.  And I think that’s really the goal of the left, to cause us to be less expressive about our love for our country and our values.” – U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz

I’d like to think that with a pandemic that has swept across the nation for the past year giving us the highest death rate on the globe, voting rights on the chopping block, threats of violence by extremist racist groups, systemic racism in law enforcement, threats to our national security by domestic terrorists and more, our elected officials might have more serious things to spend their time on than being outraged because the owner of six books chooses to no longer publish them.  I really resent paying these peoples’ salaries these days!

And then there’s the Mr. Potato Head ‘scandal’, also being called ‘cancel culture’.  Hasbro, makers of the Potato Head, announced on Thursday that it would drop the “Mr.” from the brand’s name in a new playset to be released this fall, in order to be more inclusive and so all could feel “welcome in the Potato Head world.”  The new sets are designed without the Mr. and Mrs. designations that will let kids create their own type of potato families, including two moms or two dads.

Naturally … sigh … the homophobic bigots went ballistic.  The bottom line here is there’s no such thing as ‘cancel culture’, merely a natural evolution into what we hope will be a more inclusive, more compassionate world.  People who spend time ruminating over these non-issues have too much time on their hands and too little maturity to find other things to think about.