I began today driving for two hours to find a meeting for which I had been given the wrong address, and, like the fool that I have always been, didn’t bring along the phone number of anyone who could help me. It is during ordeals like this that I begin to reflect on what a failure and underachiever I am, and how I really don’t have enough time left for turnaround. All that privilege, and good fortune, wasted. And I have no one to blame but myself.
Then I had to write about the stuff you’ll find below, and I got really depressed.
1. “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias, and why aren’t you agreeing with what I say?” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi got angry when PBS NewsHour” anchor Judy Woodruff dared to ask a question that cahllenged the Democratic Party position in dispute with Republicans on over the content of a “Phase 4” Wuhan Virus aid bill.
When Woodruff asked Pelosi about the “flexibility” GOP lawmakers are showing in terms of allocating more money for state and local governments, as well as Republican arguments that “much of the money” allocated in the CARES Act “has not even been spent yet,” Pelosi snapped, “Well, if you want to be an advocate for them, Judy, if you want to be an advocate for them, listen to what the facts are.”
In other word, “Hey! You’re supposed to be on our side!”
Actually, ethical journalists are not supposed to be on anyone’s side, but that quaint ethics concept has been abandoned by virtually all journalists, including Woodruff.
“I’m playing devil’s advocate here,!” Woodruff protested. You know, the devil, Republicans—same thing!
2. Better yet, don’t ride the subway! Here is a Wuhan virus safety sign from the New York City subways.
In addition to telling people they should wear masks, it goes to the next level and wants people to avoid interacting at all. This is incompetent messaging and shows a basic misunderstanding of humans in general and American in particular. It also makes me suspicious: Big Brother is still working to make as all compliant automaton. If we can’t talk, we can’t resist.
It reminds me of the early “don’t touch you face!” warnings. People touch their face thousands of times a day. That message made me skeptical of all the advice from “experts” and governments, and indeed, you hardly hear it any more.
As a passionate supporter of American democracy in both practice and theory, I find the proliferation of ignoramuses, fools and morons among both elected representatives and the voters who allow them to acquire access to the levers of power to be a constant source of discouragement. The old adage about democracy being the worst form of government except for all the others is scant consolation, true as it may be. I only tune in to the reliably idiotic goings on at the state legislature level when someone or some news story forces me to take a look, which I anticipate with enthusiasm akin to that I felt toward going down into our scary basement when I was a kid. (OK, up until I moved away at 21. OK, STILL.)
Here are two examples from today….that I know about.
Alabama took another step toward near-total abortion ban legislation, House Bill 314, the “Human Life Protection Act.” The Republican-supported bill is in direct defiance of 1973’s Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling, an obvious gambit to try to get the conservative Roberts court to overturn it. Grandstanding, obstinacy, call it what you will, this bill is futile, foolish, and incompetent. An outright reversal of Roe is not in the cards, not even in the most fevered fantasies of anti-abortion fanatics and pro-abortion absolutists. The new law, if it becomes a law, will be struck down by a the highest Alabama court, and won’t make it to the Supreme Court docket. It’s an illegal law, that’s all. A law reestablishing child labor or repealing female suffrage would have about as much chance of getting the Court’s attention.
If Roe is to be weakened or modified, it will occur incrementally, with the Court ruling on legitimately debatable regulations regarding when a fetus or unborn child qualifies for full Constitutional protection. It is understandable that ordinary, untrained, confused citizens might think that the way to remove established Court precedent is to directly oppose it with a state law, but that’s because, for most of them, making laws isn’t their job. State legislators, on the other hand, have no excuse but their own lack of preparation for their civic duty, and ignorance. Continue reading →
1 It’s a tradition, but still an embarrassment to democracy...Why isn’t this res ipsa loquitur, as in “so indisputable it ought to be embarrassing”? Rep. John Conyers, whose proclivity to engage in sexual harassment in full confidence that neither left-leaning reporters in the know (like Cokie Roberts ) nor his party’s leaders nor the victims themselves, would blow a whistle on a “civil rights icon” like him, is finally announcing a forced retirement. But he is attempting to anoint his oldest son, John Conyers III, as his successor. III has no special qualifications for elected office. He is a hedge fund manager and a business consultant whose famous father is part of his appeal to clients. The original John Conyers was used as a stepping stone to power by another unqualified family member using his name, III’s’ mother, former Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers, was sentenced to 37 months in prison for bribery. She was released in 2013.
In a profanity and vulgarity-laced video III posted last year, he said in part,
“Third and fourth generations of Conyers running for office. It’s really crazy. My grandfather did an incredible job, man. Fuck. A lot of people stand on the sidelines of their own lives. It’s like you just watch that shit go by like, no, I don’t think I’m going to get in the game – that shit is short, man. Whatever you do, make sure you vote….Voting feels so good, like even if your person doesn’t win, like, it feels good. The craziest part about it all is that my dad really walked with Martin Luther King and got arrested for this shit, like, damn this shit is deep fam. I casted my vote and I was hype as shit, like, I voted, like, this is awesome and I am really thankful for people that died for that for me. Any race, whatever, it’s important to vote but I mean, like, especially African-Americans man, go vote because people really died for this shit. If you don’t know shit about a candidate, man, and you just want to vote like you can write your own name in there, but like the action of going to vote is so important.”
Or just vote for someone with a last name you recognize! He sounds like a winner to me! One hurdle: Democratic Michigan State Sen. Ian Conyers, the congressman’s great-nephew, announced his intention to run for the open seat.
This is a long, long blight on American democracy that makes me wonder if we’re really up to it. The number of voters in both parties who are so shallow, lazy, and foolish as to assume that merely being related to a famous or popular leader is sufficient reason to elect him or her is disgraceful, but it has always been thus. Among those who never would have made it into a high office without this factor are Mary Bono, Jesse Jacskon, Jr. (currently in prison), Lindy Boggs, Lurleen Wallace, Margaret Chase Smith, Robert Taft, George W. Bush, Bobby Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, Robert Kennedy Jr, Joseph Kennedy III, Joe Kennedy II, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend—anyone named Kennedy, really—current Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Cal.), Al Gore, and Hillary Clinton. There are many, many more.
A last name is not a qualification for office. Why should that even have to be pointed out in a nation founded upon the rejection of royalty?
The topic of the evening was fake news and government manipulation of it, as the Clinton era film about a phony war being launched by a President to distract from a scandal is a fascinating one to ponder through the rear view mirror. Hoffman, one of the stars of the film, recently became one of the few dubious victims of a #MeToo-er, as he was accused of groping and sexually harassing a 17-year old woman on the set of another film in 1985. Unlike most of the celebrities and power-brokers run over by the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck, Hoffman has not had other accusers surface. He denies the woman’s characterization of what happened, and so have others, like the director of the movie in question, the filmed version of Hoffman’s Broadway turn as Willie Loman in “Death of Salesman.”
I have read fans of Oliver saying that Hoffman should have assumed that Oliver would grill him on the allegations, to which I say, “Only if Hoffman realized what a knee-jerk progressive creep Oliver is.” I think the actor assumed that Oliver was an honorable professional, and as a moderator wouldn’t hijack the discussion to embarrass Hoffman and burnish his feminist creds.
To Hoffman’s credit, he stood up to the abuse of position by Oliver and defended himself. At one point, there was this exchange:
HOFFMAN: “Do you believe this stuff you read?
OLIVER: Yes. Because there’s no point in (the accuser) lying.”
HOFFMAN: Well, there’s a point in her not bringing it up for 40 years.
OLIVER: Oh Dustin…
I would have said,
“Don’t “Oh, Dustin” me, you arrogant, posturing ass. The fact that a complaint isn’t made for that much time automatically makes it dubious. It places the accused in an impossible position; evidence has evaporated, and memories have faded. There are many reasons to lie. To get publicity, To get revenge for some real or imagined slight. To bring down someone famous or powerful. To join a mob—and regardless of the fact that the post-Weinstein focus on legitimate sexual misconduct in the workplace has created needed awareness and exposed long-time abusers, it is a mob, with all of the capacity a mob has to harm the innocent in its self-righteousness. You are playing to the mob right now, and willing to unjustly smear me to do it. You’re a disgrace.”
John Ziegler quoted a Hollywood writer who knows Hoffman and is convinced he is innocent, who said,
“Someone should tell John Oliver he’s the true heir to Joe McCarthy!Sex abuse baiting has replaced red-baiting. The ‘Sexual Blacklist’ reigns supreme. Guilty until ruined!”
Let me also remind readers that my hypothetical illustrating how a woman might retroactively decide that what she did not regard as sexual harassment years ago was harassment now was mocked by both the moderator and a Georgetown law professor during the NPR panel I participated in last week.
I am right, they are biased.
The more I think about that exchange, the more ticked off I get….