Thursday, June 17, 2021

Reds Under the Beds

It has fallen upon me recently to educate media types about the dark period of American life after WWII called the Red Scare. For example, there was the writer of an article in a California magazine who regularly called the House Committee on Un-American Activities (usually referred to as HUAC) the “House Committee on Un-American Affairs,” a minor quibble, perhaps. Then there was a writer in a left-wing British magazine who claimed that the egregious Senator Joseph McCarthy was the harasser of Hollywood, when it was the above-referenced HUAC that was the culprit. McCarthy mainly took aim at alleged communists in government. Worst of all was the confusion by a writer of a book on cabaret who seemed to have no idea that Congress is a bi-cameral institution; he had Senator McCarthy in charge of the House of Representatives committee.

I have received no acknowledgements from the first two periodicals. The book writer I did not try to reach, deeming him a hopeless case, as his tome was so chock-full of errors that I stopped reading early on.


*


I bring all this up as it seems we’re into a new chapter of the Red Scare—with a strange twist. Republicans—politicos and shleppers—have been shouting recently about communists, but with a bizarre choice of alleged reds. For example, the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney:

Mitt Romney has been under fire from Republicans for quite some time over his condemnation of Donald Trump. At a state party convention Saturday in Utah, Mitt Romney was booed while taking the stage, shortly before a failed bid to censure him for voting to convict Donald Trump.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, some called Romney a “traitor” and a “communist.”*

It had never occurred to me before that the GOP had once been promoting a commie as leader of their party.


Another recent example of this Republican obsession with finding reds is found in a New York Times article about cherries, of all things. Mask-wearing and politics have divided a Michigan community, leading to a split having to do with who shops at what cherry stand. The Times tells us that a kook named Randy Bishop, “sometimes called the ‘Rush Limbaugh of Antrim County,’ ”

will boycott King’s [one of the fruit stands] forever . . . “along with other progressive, communist business owners in this county.”**

So, in addition to looking for reds in the forefront of the Republican Party, we should beware of business owners, who, presumably, desire to have their enterprises appropriated by the state.


With the disappearance of actual communists, the word communist is devoid of substance but still loaded with powerful connotation—muy malo.


*


I sit here in silent hope that President Joe Biden in his Geneva conversation with ex-KGB apparatchik Vladimir Putin implored the Russian to resurrect the Soviet Union. That would bring real communists back into the world—and the Republicans could with truth assail Mischa in Moscow and Andrei in Arkhangelsk.


***


*  https://thesource.com/2021/05/03/mitt-romney-booed-and-called-a-communist-at-republican-convention/https://thesource.com/2021/05/03/mitt-romney-booed-and-called-a-communist-at-republican-convention/


**  https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/06/us/michigan-masks-covid-farm-stands.html?action=click&module=Editors%20Picks&pgtype=Homepage



Thursday, June 10, 2021

Your Life, Our Money

The 2021 French Open tennis championship will reach its climax this weekend at Roland Garros Stadium in Paris. However, the woman who is second-ranked in the world will not be on the court. Naomi Osaka withdrew from the tournament before the second round.  


Osaka had announced before the tournament that she would not participate in any post-match interviews. When she declined to appear before the microphones after her first-round victory, she was fined $15,000. But more importantly, she was warned that she would be barred from future participation in Grand Slam tournaments (i.e., Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open) if she persisted in refusing to appear for the interviews.


Osaka had predicated her refusal on the fact that she was concerned that negative questions about her play affected her mental health. On Instagram Osaka tried to explain herself further:

The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that.

Naturally enough, in the perverted world we live in, many of the criticisms of Osaka revolved around money. For example, the New York Times referenced Donald Dell,“a founder of the men’s tour, the ATP, and a longtime agent and tournament promoter,” who said that

media access to the biggest stars is essential for the promotion of any sport, and vital to engaging its most loyal fans.

Access creates name recognition . . . . [I]t is part of the sport and part of trying to build a bigger sport.*

The Times goes on to say,

It can also have a direct effect on the bottom line. Sponsors often pay millions of dollars in part to have their names on banners behind top players at news conferences and to have their products, such as a bottle of water or an energy drink, next to the microphones in front of the athletes. If players do not have to attend those news conferences, the value of those deals could drop significantly.

So, put all your concerns about your physical and mental health behind you. Just keep greasing the wheels of  the commercial juggernaut. 


(Not that we have to worry about the economic welfare of Naomi Osaka. At 23 years of age, she earned $55 million last year.) 



*


Perhaps the best summation of the belief that money is the be-all and end-all is the following from The New Yorker:


Last December, a twenty-two-year-old employee surnamed Zhang at the e-commerce company Pinduoduo collapsed on the ground in the middle of the night, on her way home from work, and died six hours later, apparently from exhaustion and overwork. Two weeks later, another Pinduoduo employee leaped to his death, during a visit to his parents, reportedly after he was fired for criticizing the company’s work culture. In response to an outpouring of anger and grievance, the company appeared to dismiss Zhang’s death, posting a comment on its official social-media account: “Who hasn’t exchanged their life for money?”**


***

*  https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/01/sports/tennis/naomi-osaka-french-open-media.html?searchResultPosition=12


 **   https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/chinas-involuted-generation#:~:text=Naming%20a%20condition%20like%20involution,deployed%20to%20describe%20many%20things.


Thursday, May 27, 2021

The Eyes of Texas

Once upon a time, I thought that the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, with their soft porn, were the worst thing about Texas. Over the years, however, Texas, and specifically its politicos, have managed to compile a record number of idiocies, outrages, and anti-democratic laws and actions to sink the Cowgirls to the bottom of the list. The latest example—and the worst so far—was announced by this headline:


Texas Gets Ready To Allow Unlicensed Carrying Of Handguns


That’s right—no license needed to carry a weapon.


HOWEVER—if you own a dog, in most Texas cities you have to register it and/or microchip it.


Which implies, to my little brain, that a canine is a much more dangerous proposition than a firearm. I don’t get this. Did I miss the news reports of mass murders being precipitated by a dog owner’s shout of “Go, Fido, kill, kill!”?


There are rumblings now and again in Texas that the state should secede from the union (remember, they tried once and failed). Well, maybe the rest of us should just shrug our shoulders and say, “Go back where you came from (i.e., Mexico). Poor old Mexico, though, has enough of its own troubles with firearms and murders that it doesn’t need the added burden of Texas’. Which should rule out that homecoming. It would be a disappointment to Ted Cruz, who likes to sneak off there when the Lone Star State gets too frigid.


(And by the way, which idiot allowed him into New Jersey to go to Princeton? A case can be made for border controls.)


So, I give up—I don’t know what we can do about Texas. 


*


The only good that has come out of Texas was Brian Leetch.


Friday, May 21, 2021

E Pluribus Unum

Recently, I donated a shedload of money to my alma mater; in return, my alma mater sent me a shedload of paper. The only paper I have retained is a pamphlet entitled “Great Grads 2020.”



According to the pamphlet, these graduates are “poised to make great contributions in fields as varied as structural engineering, Early Childhood Education, landscape architecture and medicine.” What struck me most about the graduates were their national origins and ethnic backgrounds. Here’s the list:


Benjamin Akhavan—Jewish-Iranian

Propa Akter—Bangladeshi

Gina Bravo—Mexican

Kereen Brown—Jamaican

Yardelis Diaz—Unspecified Latinx

Alexandros Gloor—Greek-Italian

Sabastian Hajtovic—Turkish

Isabella Joseph—Indian

Mahmoud Khedr—Egyptian

Marija Krstic—Serbian

Terrell F. Merritt—African-American

Mathiu Perez Rodriguez—Ecuadorian

Rossmery Almonte Tejada—Dominican


And most exotic of all:


Daniel “Cash” Langford—Texan


Who cannot not love a school that offers such a diverse populace an opportunity to succeed? Who cannot love a country that has opened its doors to such a wide-range of nationalities? 


Oh wait. I forgot the wall-builders, the excluders, the bigots, the hate-mongers.


But aren’t we better than they are?


*


One of the graduates was awarded the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, “America’s premiere award for undergraduates majoring in math, science and engineering.” The take-away from that: Even Republicans can benefit society, if they put their minds to it.


Sunday, May 2, 2021

No Cohens on the Mayflower

Rick Santorum, former Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, gave a speech recently to a group of young fogeys at a Standing Up For Faith & Freedom Conference hosted by the Young America’s Foundation, a conservative youth organization. He made headlines—and created a backlash—by claiming that 

America was birthed from “nothing,” and that “there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”* 

One particular point he raised (and which has spurred me to action) is that the United States 

"was settled predominantly by people who were coming to practice their faith. They came here, because they were not allowed to practice their particular faith in their own country."

“And so they came here, mostly from Europe, and they set up a country that was based on Judeo-Christian principles.” 

*


To test Santorum’s claim, I telephoned a man who should have great insight into the Europeans who early on settled in America, Christopher Jones, master of the Mayflower, the ship that brought the Pilgrims to Massachusetts.


*


Us: Hello. Is that Christopher Jones?


Jones: Yes, it is, matey.


Us: Master of the Mayflower?


Jones: Right again, matey.


Us: I hope you won’t mind answering a question or two about your journey from England and the passengers you carried.


Jones: Only happy to. You know I have been waiting for donkey’s ages for some recognition of what we—I mean my crew and me—went through to deliver those passengers safely across the ocean. The history books are filled with noise about Myles Standish and John Alden and William Bradford, but nothing about us.


Us: I’m sorry, Captain Jones, but I also want some information about your passengers, who are known to history as the Pilgrims.


Jones: Well, all right—as long as you mention us seadogs in there somewhere.


Us: Now, the general image of the Pilgrims, as represented in drawings and paintings, is of men dressed in solemn black clothing and wearing big hats. Would you say that is a true representation of the men?


Jones: Absolutely. And the women wore dresses down to their shoe tops.


Us: Aha. Recently, someone said that the settlers were determined to set up a country based on “Judeo-Christian principles.” Now we know that there were Christians aboard the Mayflower, but we here at drnormalvision have wondered whether there were Jews aboard as well, considering that claim about the founding of the country on “Judeo-Christian principles.” Did you have any inkling that some of the black-clad men with big hats might have been Jews?


Jones: I can state categorically that despite their dress, none of those black-clad figures were Jews.


Us: Why is that?


Jones: Because when they came topside to pray, they davened in English.


Us: Wow! So the Pilgrims weren’t intending to base their new society on yiddishkeit


Jones: Got it in one. You know there’s an interesting fact I just learned: There are approximately 35 million people worldwide who are Mayflower descendants.


Us: Really?


Jones: Yup. And not one of them is a yid.


***


https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/550318-santorum-there-isnt-much-native-american-culture-in-american

Friday, April 30, 2021

The Granite Old Party

The Greek myth of Pygmalion goes like this:

Pygmalion, king of Cyprus and a sculptor, fashioned a statue of a woman out of ivory, with which he fell in love. He prayed to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who made the statue come to life, and Pygmalion married his creation. The story was George Bernard Shaw’s inspiration for his play Pygmalion, which, in turn, was the source for the musical My Fair Lady


*


Republicans love statues too. They love statues so much--especially statues of  slaveowners and Confederate generals--that they can’t bear to see anyone touch a hair on their chinny-chin-chins. The Republicans’ embrace of nonliving granite and marble has led them in Florida to legislate into law an act imposing harsh punishment on anyone who disturbs the eternal rest of statues.

Under the act, any person who “willfully and maliciously” damages a memorial or other piece of historic property can be charged with a third-degree felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison. Meanwhile, the felony charge will be upped to the second degree for those who destroy or topple such objects, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years.*

Rocks have never before been so beloved.


*


While the GOPers of the Sunshine State were exhibiting their brand of rolling and rocking, their brethren in Oklahoma were engaged in a different project. They were trotting out legislation that would absolve drivers from blame if they plowed their vehicles, weighing 2 or 3 tons or more, into the bodies of human beings. 

When massive demonstrations against racial injustice erupted across the nation last summer, protesters used an increasingly common tactic to draw attention to their cause: swarming out onto major roads to temporarily paralyze traffic.

This method sometimes resulted in searing images of drivers plowing through crowds, causing serious injuries and in some cases, deaths.**


*


In December 2015 John Edward Parsley made a big mistake. Angry at having to pay cash instead of having his credit card accepted, he smashed his pick-up truck through the front doors of the Alva Comfort Inn and Suites and into the lobby of that Oklahoma hostelry. He spent the following night as a guest in the Woods County Jail, held on a $1 million bond and charged with

two felony counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and one count of malicious injury to property valued at more than $1,000.***

Of course, he would really have been in trouble if he chipped a statue of Jefferson Davis.


Now, Mr. Parsley’s real mistake was not his blowing his top, but in destroying property. Had he waited 6 years and plowed into human beings he would be getting an all-clear signal from the Oklahoma State Legislature. 


To paraphrase Rodgers and Hammerstein:

Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain,

And the cars come smashing into humans.


***


https://news.artnet.com/art-world/florida-felony-topple-confederate-monuments-1961315



Tuesday, April 13, 2021

A Republican Tells the Truth

By now, all of you should be au courant with the attempts by Republican-controlled state legislatures to enact a series of voter-suppression laws. The state that’s the poster-boy for this democracy-denying activity is Georgia, the state that fell to Joseph Biden in the recent presidential election and then sent two new Democratic senators to Washington.


The result of the 2020 election has sent Republicans into fits of conspiracy-seeking amid claims (all rejected in multiple court cases) of an election stolen by voter fraud.


However, mirabile dictu (as Cicero might put it), the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, (who, in the past, has not proven to be the most scrupulous practitioner of voting ethics; when running for governor while serving as Georgia’s secretary of state, he refused to recuse himself from supervising his own election) proclaimed loud and clear that the new voting legislation “has nothing to do with potential fraud or not.” (1) 


What a breath of fresh air! No BS about dead people voting or smuggled ballots or the rest of the crap that other GOPers were peddling. The Georgia Republicans were simply intent upon breaking a system that worked perfectly in order to keep thousands of fellow Peach Staters from voting because they would mark their ballots for the wrong party. 


One provision of the new laws that got the attention even of that noted pinwheel Lindsey Graham, GOP senator from South Carolina, was the criminalization of volunteers’ providing drink or food to voters waiting on line. 

Chris Wallace: “Senator, why on earth, if Americans are willing to wait hours to vote, would you make it a crime for people to come and give them a bottle of water?”

Graham: “Well, all I can say is that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, I agree with you there.” (2)

Governor Kemp, however, saw something very American about such a ban:

"They can order a pizza," Kemp said of voters waiting to vote. "They can order Grubhub or Uber Eats, right?” (3)

In other words, freebee handouts are an un-American criminal offense—but capitalism should be rewarded.


*


The Moral:


In Georgia, that Kit Kat must be purchased!


***


(1)  https://www.theroot.com/georgia-governor-says-states-voter-suppression-law-isnt-1846599302


(2)  https://www.thedailybeast.com/chris-wallace-grills-lindsey-graham-on-georgia-voting-law-banning-giving-voters-water


(3)  https://news.yahoo.com/georgia-gov-brian-kemp-says-175707994.html