I began writing this on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement for those of the Jewish persuasion. I find this a lovely tradition and my Facebook feed was filled with Jewish friends offering apologies for slights, hurts and any other infractions to those who were the objects of said actions.
The Catholic Trappist monk, writer, theologian, mystic, poet, social activist and scholar of comparative religion, Thomas Merton, said there are aspects of other faiths that, while not our own, contain practices and traditions we can all learn from. So, in that spirit, I offer my own apologies and ask forgiveness for those I have insulted in the past year, and those I may insult with this essay.
There is a wonderful film that was released in 2006 called Idiocracy. The Wikipedia description sums it up well.
The film tells the story of Corporal Joe Bauers, a U.S. Army librarian who, along with prostitute Rita, takes part in a government hibernation experiment. The experiment goes awry, and Joe awakens in the year 2505, in a dystopian world dumbed-down by mass commercialism, rampant anti-intellectualism and the domination of low culture, to find that he is by far the smartest person on the planet.
Well, frankly, there are times when I watch and read the news, and I feel a bit like Joe, but only when I consider some of our elected representatives. The author Gore Vidal once said to me in conversation, when looking at the 1980 Presidential race, “We began with candidates like Jefferson and Adams and now we have this. It may be proof Darwin was wrong."
And 42 years later, that may be an understatement. Now, we don't elect people to any office because they are the smartest folks around, although sometimes we do hit a real gem. The famed jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr, once described FDR as having a..."A second-class intellect. But a first-class temperament." Now unfortunately, we get neither and I keep wondering how people can bring themselves to vote for them.
Longtime political strategist James Carville suggested Tuesday that Republicans are running “very low-quality candidates” in the midterms because “they have a lot of stupid people that vote in their primaries.”
“They really do,” Carville said during an appearance on MSNBC’s The 11th Hour. “I’m not really supposed to say that but it’s obvious fact. And you know, when stupid people vote, you know who they nominate? Other stupid people.”
Now, I'm not going to limit this to Republicans because goodness knows, Democrats have more than their share of unexplainable choices. For example, there is Congressman Hank Johnson of Georgia. Consider the science behind this gem...
''My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize.'' —Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) expressing concern during a congressional hearing that the presence of a large number of American soldiers might upend the island of Guam.
But, while we're on the subject of Georgia, how does one explain Herschel Walker? He, of course, has an absolutely mind-blowing record as a college and professional football player, and a less than stellar one as a businessman and, uh, shall we say, father. He was shown to have lied about, and let's go in order, his college degree, business activities, law enforcement career(?), history of family violence, numbers of offspring, and lately, history on the subject of abortion. Add to this some absolutely incomprehensible statements on climate...
"Since we don't control the air, our good air decided to float over to China's bad air, so when China gets our good air, their bad air got to move," adding, "So it moves over to our good air space. Then, now, we got we to clean that back up."
On the President's infrastructure plan...
"Because a lot of money, it’s going to trees. Don’t we have enough trees around here?"
On school shootings...
"Cain killed Abel. You know, and that's a problem that we have. And I say what we need to do is look into how we can stop those things. I support a department that can look at young men that's looking at women that's looking at social media. What I like to do is see it and everything and stuff."
And given all that, and the latest denunciations from his own son, calling him a liar and hypocrite, he not only won the Republican primary but due to the former President's endorsement and his self-proclaimed mission to return real Christian faith to the job, he is competitive with the pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. Yes, an actual Christian clergyman.
Now, you can't leave Georgia without discussing the walking 3-Mile-Island of American politics, Marjorie Taylor Greene. Even before being elected to Congress, she made these claims...
A wildfire in California was started by a laser “beamed from space and controlled by a prominent Jewish banking family with connections to powerful Democrats,” as The New York Times summed it up. Bill and Hillary Clinton had John F. Kennedy Jr. killed because he was a political rival (Kennedy died in a plane crash in 1999). A plane probably didn’t crash into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. President Obama is a secret Muslim, and the election of two Muslim women to Congress amounts to a “takeover.”
Then there was this famous response accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Nazi-like tactics after the Capitol Police conducted a routine security check of a colleague’s office. Appearing on the right-wing One America News, Greene referred to “Pelosi’s gazpacho police spying on members of Congress, spying on the legislative work that we do, spying on our staff and spying on American citizens that want to come talk to their representatives.”
For the record, Pelosi has no control over the Capitol Police, whatever soup they may prefer.
She thought she was taking a shot at Transportation Secretary Pete Buttafucco, or whatever the spelling is. I'm on deadline so spelling isn't my thing. Anyway, she thought she had a point when she yelled at a some goofball rally that those who support electric vehicles want to "emasculate American drivers." Never mind that the fastest EV's accelerate faster than the fastest supercars...
The 2023 Corvette Z06 will reach 60 miles per hour from a standing start in 2.3 seconds. The new Tesla sports car will do it in 1.9. So, for the guys who love to engage in the stoplight to stoplight gran prix, the bragging rights are up for grabs. As to other elements of ownership, you can find them here. So, Marjorie has obviously not done her homework, which is a surprise to no one, except perhaps the guy who just lost his Firebird pink slip to a Tesla.
And that leads us naturally to pistol-packin' mama and Colorado's favorite daughter, who got her GED shortly before running for Congress, Lauren Boebert. On Fox News...
“I don’t know who’s running the federal government these days: Joe Biden or Prince John from ... uhhhh ... Prince John. But they’re taxing us into poverty.”
She has wondered aloud if student loan forgiveness will pay for degrees in “lesbian dance theory,” whatever that is. And in reading from the book of Romans, she described a passage referring to “wanton” killings as “wonton.” Drowning in hot soup, one supposes.
Now, some reasonably sentient politicos do say some really dumb things. For example...
“But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.''—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talking about President Obama's healthcare law.
“I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it.''—Sen. John Kerry, on voting against a military funding bill for U.S. troops in Iraq, March 19, 2004
''As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where — where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border.''—Sarah Palin, explaining why Alaska's proximity to Russia gives her foreign policy experience, interview with CBS's Katie Couric, Sept. 24, 2008
''I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man.'' —Then Sen. Joe Biden on then-Sen. Barack Obama when he was first running for president
'They don't call me Tyrannosaurus Sex for nothing.'' —Ted Kennedy
''You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent... I'm not joking.'' — Joe Biden, in a private remark to an Indian-American man caught on C-SPAN, June, 2006
"A zebra does not change its spots.'' — Al Gore
"I was recently on a tour of Latin America, and the only regret I have was that I didn't study Latin harder in school so I could converse with those people.'' —Dan Quayle
And sometimes create a verbal Rubik's Cube...
“We know there are known knowns: there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns: that is to say we know there are things we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don't know we don't know.''—Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Defense Department briefing, Feb. 12, 2002
That was the political equivalent of “Who's On First.”
But we can't move on without mentioning our own Louis Gohmert. The former judge, really, who has served East Texas in Congress for 18 years now. And he has progressively encouraged most of us here to wear bags on our heads to prevent identification. For example, when questioning a representative of the US Forest Service about climate and the effects of the moon, he asked...
“Is there anything that the National Forest Service or BLM can do to change the course of the moon’s orbit or the Earth’s orbit around the sun?” Mr Gohmert asked, adding: “Obviously that would have profound effects on our climate.”
His question stumped Jennifer Eberlein, the associate deputy chief of the Forest Service.
“I would have to follow up with you on that one, Mr. Gohmert,” she said with a smile, after a long pause.
Louie didn’t skip a beat. “Well if you figure out a way that you in the Forest Service can make that change, I’d like to know.”
This one may be my favorite. When discussing the proposal to limit the capacity of rifle magazines to ten rounds. He steered the conversation directly into the weeds; weeds where apparently some hanky-panky was going on...
I had this discussion with some wonderful, caring Democrats earlier this week on the issue of, well, they said ‘Surely you could agree to limit the number of rounds in a magazine, couldn’t you? How would that be problematic?’…
And I pointed out, well, once you make it ten, then why would you draw the line at ten? What’s wrong with nine? Or eleven? And the problem is once you draw that limit ; it’s kind of like marriage when you say it’s not a man and a woman any more, then why not have three men and one woman, or four women and one man, or why not somebody has a love for an animal?
There is no clear place to draw the line once you eliminate the traditional marriage and it’s the same once you start putting limits on what guns can be used, then it’s just really easy to have laws that make them all illegal.”
So, I'm surmising gun control leads to sex with animals, or something. Now, I delight in the occasional non-sequitur as much as the next guy, like for instance...
''It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is.''
And that came from a Rhodes Scholar. But we are on the verge of possibly electing Q-Anon believers who think Chinese AC thermostats tilted the election and Democrats are cannibalistic pedophiles who drink the blood of children to stay young looking. Witness Hillary, for heaven's sake, if you don't believe it! Do your own research, for crying out loud! Demand Buzz Aldrin tell the truth about the moon landing!
And speaking of that event, when touring NASA just after the Mars Pathfinder had landed, our own Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee asked if it had managed to photograph the flag that Neil Armstrong planted? OK, Buzz. Explain that one, too, eh?
In 2010, 36 years after the end of the Viet Nam war she also said...
“Today, we have two Vietnams, side by side, North and South, exchanging and working. We may not agree with all that North Vietnam is doing, but they are living in peace. I would look for a better human rights record for North Vietnam, but they are living side by side.”
If only General Westmoreland were still here to learn he actually won.
And just this week, we have the Senator from Alabama, Tommy Tuberville, who sounds like a character in a Saturday morning kid's show. As the opening act for the former President's Nevada Trumpapalooza this weekend, he made these clearly racist, though not entirely surprising, observations...
The good Senator, whose dad was a part of the D-Day invasion, says he fought to free Europe from socialism. Uh-huh. Had his father not been wounded in 1945, he might have reached Berlin to shake the hands of real socialists from the Red Army. But Tommy also says the 3 branches of government are the House, Senate and Executive, so a little slack must be granted.
The problem is the effect these nonsensical people have on voters. One woman at Trump's Nevada rally had this exchange with a reporter from the self-described Right Side Broadcasting Network as reported on Mediaite...
RSBN: With the Russia and the Ukraine conflict. What’s your…?
TRUMP SUPPORTER: My opinion? You know, I grew up in 40 years, you know, under the Russian thing. And I love Putin. I love Putin! Putin is making the right, you know? What the American people is built over there. He wants to clean them out. You know?
RSBN: He wants to get rid of Americans, clean them out?
TRUMP SUPPORTER: Clean em out all the, the, the biochemical place, everything and the nuclear thing. Yeah.
RSBN: We’ll have to talk more about this because…
TRUMP SUPPORTER: He’s a good, good president! You know, number two, after President One! Number two, I love him!
So, we are voting on, in some cases, certifiable idiots to run our country. I'm not sure why except in most races it's a case of, “He may be an idiot, but he's my idiot.” But they also count on us being uninformed as well, like that Putin fan in Nevada.
Exactly one year ago this week I wrote about the fight over the “budget ceiling” which was being portrayed as a fight between spendthrift Biden supporters and Republicans who only wanted fiscal responsibility. That is not an explanation of the budget ceiling and in this case, they hope you don't do your own research. So I did it for you.
There are folks in Congress who are hoping you don’t know how the debt ceiling works. That’s because they want to use it to make themselves seem fiscally responsible, and the other guys like drunken sailors with a weekend pass and a pocket full of twenties.
In fact, the country has already spent the money we are talking about. It doesn’t involve the President’s infrastructure plan, whether you love or hate it. It doesn’t involve anything, frankly, going forward. It needs to be raised to pay for spending and tax cuts that are already history. The bulk of what we are paying for, $7.8 trillion in debt, occurred under President Trump. $3.7 trillion was to pay for his tax cut in 2017 that was passed with only Republicans using the reconciliation process. Sound familiar? Democrats are preparing to do the same thing for President Biden’s spending proposal. The rest was normal spending, including for the pandemic.
The Biden plan is big and will require this to be done again down the road, though he says it will be paid for over the 10 year lifespan of the program. That’s been said before.
But, again, this has nothing to do with future spending. Those who say that are, what’s the word? Oh yeah, lying. Playing chicken with the nation’s credit rating is the kind of dangerous game you expect from a roomful of teenagers with their parent’s credit cards, but we’re not that lucky. These are supposedly responsible adults who care more about red meat BS for the base than the economic health of the country. America’s credit rating dropped when this was tried back in 2011, and now, here we are again.
If it is allowed to go that far this time, the cost of borrowing will go up for everything big you buy, and a renewed recession is a real possibility. All to score points on either Hannity or Maddow.
The so-called Gephardt Rule was a parliamentary procedure introduced in 1979 that deemed the debt ceiling raised when a budget was passed. This resolved the contradiction in voting for appropriations but not voting to fund them. The rule stood until it was repealed by Congress in 1995. Since then, these periodic spitball fights are the norm.
We gave these clowns the keys to the car and they need to be taken away.
I think I still stand by that.
Now, he is part of the Texas Outlaw Writers, and if this doesn't pan out, the outlaw part will still work as he will indeed resort to robbing banks.