The Life in My Years

An anthology of life

This year, after a 2020 COVID cancellation the NCAA Basketball Tournament, aka March Madness, has returned and is winding down towards crowning a winner.

This year, America has been enduring another version of madness in March. Don’t order a pizza or dip into the nachos for this madness, because this is all about a month long tidal wave of foolishness that’s been washing over America.

No layups or buzzer beating shots here, but it’s a slam dunk that you’ll find a month’s worth of American foolishness over issues real or made up, serious and silly. The guacamole is optional but have a beer, well, maybe a six pack, handy.

And so without further adieu, and in no particular order, lets get on with the other March madness.

Based On An Actual Event
Our version of the madness starts out like those movies that begin with the bold caption, Based On An Actual Event. Shortly thereafter we find that the actual event has been twisted into pure fantasy.

Just like those movies, our story begins with actual fact; a business decision by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, to cease publication of six out of more than sixty of Seuss’ books. Dr. Seuss Enterprises is a private (stress – private) company which holds the publishing rights to the Dr. Seuss’ library of books.

The reason given by the publisher for ceasing publication is that the books in question contain racially insensitive content. It’s about at this point that the story writers, in this case the Republican Party, transformed the actual event into a fish story, a whopper, bunk.

Following the publisher’s announcement, the Republican Party held a national freak out. The GOP transformed a corporate decision into a story of a left wing, government driven, Hitlerian book burning.

Rep. Madison Cawthorn, a Republican from North Carolina fulminated in hyperbolic, and grammatically tortured, indignation, “Apparently Dr. Seuss books are now offensive and Democrats are trying to cancel publication of anymore (sic) of his books. This has to be a joke.”

Tucker Carlson preferred to launch a more surgical strike and aimed his wrath straight at the Republicans’ new public enemy number one, Joe Biden, for, in Carlson’s words, “cancelling” Dr. Seuss.

Republican House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy took time away from a schedule that should’ve been taken up with helping to craft a stimulus bill. Instead he chose to make a video of himself reading the Seuss book, Green Eggs and Ham, one of the many in the Seuss collection that wasn’t removed from publication. The reading was simply for show of course; an extra dash of dramatic crapola, just like in those Based On…movies.

McCarthy capped off the Seuss brouhaha by actually bringing it up during the congressional debate on a voting rights bill, when he dropped this little chestnut, “First, they outlaw Dr. Seuss and now they want to tell us what to say.”

Congress works just like those movies that are Based On An Actual Event. By the time the film or the session has ended you can’t even remember what the actual event was.
It ain’t broke but we’d best make sure it’s fixed.
Afraid to admit that Donald Trump lost the presidential election because he was, and let’s just put the rat on the table here, a dirty rat himself and a shitty president, Republicans in multiple states are fixing the electoral systems that they claimed for months, from November 6th through January 20th and beyond, weren’t broken.

Right after election day, some, most notably Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia, went to war with Trump over the integrity of the election.

And so it made perfect nonsense that just a few days ago, Kemp signed a new election law that changes the system that Kemp himself declared vehemently was, above board, fair and honest. The new law adds restrictions that Democrats claim are aimed at voters of color.

One of the most outrageous regulations in the 98 page law makes it a misdemeanor to hand out food or drink to somebody standing in line to vote.

What’s the big deal with that? For me, no big deal at all. When I voted in November I drove to the polling place, cast my ballot and drove back home, all in the space of about ten minutes. Why would I need food or drink?

In Georgia it’s a whole different story. Since 2013, the electorate in that state has increased by nearly 2 million people. At the same time, the number of polling locations has been reduced by ten percent with most of those reductions affecting minority neighborhoods. The upshot is that voters in Georgia, usually those in minority communities, sometimes spend the better part of a day standing in line to vote.

Voting is supposed to be the sacred linchpin of American Democracy but one party, the GOP, is trying to make it more difficult for minorities to vote. That’s because contrary to its propaganda, the Republican Party does not represent the minority population; a population that is quickly becoming the majority. You either change your platform and broaden your base or you discourage minority voters. The GOP has chosen the latter course; the one doomed to fail by the whims of time and changing demographics.

It is actually breathtaking for me to know that Republican lawmakers were putting their pointy little heads together when someone floated an idea, maybe just as a sick joke.
“Hmm, howabout we make it against the law to hand a bottle of water to somebody who’s been standing in a voting line for five hours, under the hot sun.”
And they took it seriously.
“Great idea there Billy Bob. You’re a fucking genius.”
How do you come up with something like this, think it’s a great thing and look at yourself in the mirror?

And so to recap, Governor Kemp fought tooth and nail with Trump and the GOP, vouching for the integrity of his state’s system and then had no qualms about signing a bill to “fix” that self same system which he argued was never broken. Why would someone do that? Simple, in order to put the fix in, silly.
The, I was just kidding, defense.
Does the name Sydney Powell ring a bell? It should. She’s the ding a ling who came up with a fantasy that makes Dr. Seuss’, Green Eggs and Ham look factual.

Powell was part of Trump’s legal team that was making the case that the election was fixed (Which some Republicans claim wasn’t fixed but decided to fix by, you know, putting in the fix. But we just covered that.).

Powell conjured up an outlandish script, one that even the most desperate Hollywood producer would reject as outside the realm of wild fantasy. Powell cast Dominion Voting Systems, the company that provides voting equipment to a number of states and jurisdictions, as the main villain. She accused Dominion of being part of a broad international conspiracy to tilt the election in Joe Biden’s favor.

Included in the Dominian gang of outlaws were, Venezuela, Cuba, and China. Powell claimed that the whole cabal was bankrolled with Communist money.

She maintained that Dominion’s machines, and software developed by Smartmatic, “were created in Venezuela at the direction of (long deceased) Hugo Chavez to make sure he never lost an election.”

The claims were so out there that even Rudy Giuliani, who long ago discredited himself, raised the bullshit flag.

As one might expect the folks at Dominion were not amused. They’ve slapped Powell with a $1.3 billion dollar defamation lawsuit.

Faced with the idea of being over a billion in debt, Powell is admitting that her accusations against Dominion were all just nonsense. Nonsense? Well, yeah, no shit.

Powell’s attorneys filed papers claiming that “no reasonable person” would believe her accusations as being “truly statements of fact.” Again, no shit.

And so in making her case, Powell made Dominion’s case. Isn’t that what defamation suits are about? You spread outrageous lies about people, they get angry and then they say, “We’ll see you in court.”

I guess that there’s some twisted merit to Powell’s “I was just kidding,” defense. She’s correct in that no reasonable, thinking person could ever possibly believe one iota of her nonsense. I know I didn’t and I’d like to believe I’m pretty darn reasonable.

The problem is that a lot of unreasonable people took Powell at her word and stormed the United States Capitol.
The big stink
There I was, innocently typing away at my little desk when an argument broke out on the talk show that Cora listens to. Because you can’t have a proper talk show without an argument – usually about something trivial.

And guess what…

It was something about Pepe Le Pew, the cartoon skunk who speaks with a clichéd French accent. My first thought was that we’d pissed off the French – again. Because pissing off the French is one of America’s national pastimes.

For days I was hearing reports of Republican angst over Pepe being removed from an upcoming Space Jam movie.

I couldn’t piece together what l’affaire Le Pew was all about until I heard the skunk mentioned in the same breath with Andrew Cuomo. And then – oh yeaaaaah. It dawned on me that Pepe was something of a groper back in his hay day.

Fox’s Brian Kilmeade claimed that the media was giving Pepe “a bad reputation.” Well, no, Looney Tunes gave Pepe a bad reputation by creating a character whose stock in trade is forcing himself on women. Pepe spends most of his time grabbing a cat, which is ironically something akin to what a former president once bragged about.

Being male I’m probably not qualified to delve into most of this issue. I personally don’t think that watching Pepe Le Pew at the age of six translates into a sexual predator twenty years down the road.

That being said, I’m not in the position to pass judgment on whether or not Pepe’s cartoon shenanigans are offensive to someone who has, at some point in her life, been violated.

And so, another corporate decision, this one over a cartoon skunk created a stink that became a cause celebre and trivialized a serious issue.
Guam and Guns
The two Republican legislators who should memorize the word “circumspect” and make it their personal word to live by, went off again.

In a recent speech, Marjorie Taylor Greene railed, “…we believe our hard-earned tax dollars should just go for America, not for, what, China, Russia, the Middle East, Guam, whatever, wherever. Right?”

Problem is, Guam has been a U.S. Territory since 1898. On the day they taught U.S. History in class Greene must’ve skipped out to clean her guns or misinterpret the Bible.

Lauren Boebert, the Congresswoman from Colorado who continues to spread the lie that Democratic Presidents are going to “take away your guns,” went on Twitter; “Yesterday, I put all my guns upstairs. Biden can never get to them now!”

Pretty slick Lauren. If you want to keep a secret, put it out there on the internet.
Potato Head soup
I’ve saved the best (?) for last; the scandal that resulted over the alleged “castration” of Mr. Potato Head. Hasbro, the maker of Mr. Potato Head and Mrs. Potato Head, recently announced that it would drop Mr. from the brand. The brand will simply be called Potato Head. Rest assured America, there will still be a Mr. and a Mrs.

The result was another of those Based On An Actual Event, dramas, with the right blowing a gasket and making up a story based on a corporate decision. This particular legend was that the Potato Heads would be made gender neutral. The story hinted at a left wing conspiracy.

Glenn Beck warned that this could be the beginning of the collapse of the free world, “Buy Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head because it’s the end of an era. It is the end of freedom in America.”

“The end of freedom in America” sounds awfully damn serious. It’s enough to make you want to grab your musket and your tri-cornered tinfoil hat and head for Bunker Hill.

Beck even managed to shoehorn Fascism into the conversation.

Here’s my thinking, if the right is so upset about the Potato Head’s gender then maybe Hasbro should go all in and give the Mr. a penis and the Mrs. a vagina. Think of all the marketing possibilities, the accessory kits. Capitalism at work. The GOP would be thrilled.

I envision a Potato Head honeymoon accessory kit, complete with Potato Head vodka for getting in the mood, a negligee for Mrs. Potato Head and Potato Head Viagra for the Mr. This could of course lead to Mrs. Potato Head giving birth to – wait for it – Tater Tots!

Potato chips off the old block.

When the tots become teens they can raid the Potato Head liquor cabinet, drink up the Potato Head vodka and get wasted, giving a whole new meaning to that delicious snack called “Loaded Tots.”

For those who don’t like Tater Tots (seriously, who doesn’t like Tater Tots?) Hasbro could offer a Potato Head birth control accessory kit, complete with Potato Head condoms.

To take it further, the genderization of the Potato Heads will sooner or later lead to gay Potato Head marriages and Tater Tot adoptions.

That might just lead to Glenn Beck’s head exploding and the collapse of the Evangelical Right; possible proof that there is a god in heaven.

Well, okay, maybe the GOP wouldn’t be thrilled.

We could dismiss all of this as comedic theater but the sad fact is that Mr. Potato Head and Dr. Seuss and Pepe Le Pew will likely be revived by the Republicans as core election issues in 2022.

“The Socialist Democrats are trying to cancel all that’s treasured in America. First it was Dr. Seuss and then Mr. Potato Head. And don’t forget, the leftists have been trying to cancel Christmas for decades.”

Sadly all that the Democrats will have to lead with will be the mundanities; you know, voting rights, civil rights, and healthcare.

While some of this nuttiness has undoubtedly been a source of amusement during the Zoom cocktail parties, it has also dominated news cycles and commentary. It trivialized some real issues such as race and voting rights and sexual harassment.

Congress worried over children’s books while Americans were starving, some literally, for a stimulus package.

A month’s worth of folly showed that while it might be a good thing that in our democracy anyone can be elected to office, maybe we shouldn’t send to congress people who spin yarns out of thin air, waste time and dollars making misleading videos, or don’t know that the people of Guam are American citizens.

The electorate gets ginned up and distracted by non-issues while the falsifiers sit in hallowed halls and conjure evil laws that weaken democracy in order to solidify their power.

A petulant president, and a party losing its grip incite a riot at the capitol and this month a looney lawyer threatened with a lawsuit affirms something that “reasonable people” already knew; that it was all a lie.

This madness of March is coming to an end but hold onto your butts – tomorrow is April Fool’s Day.

5 thoughts on “The Other March Madness

  1. annecreates says:

    It’s amazing how the Democrats get blamed for corporate decisions based on the principles of capitalism. Sigh. It’s not cancel culture. It’s money!

    1. Paulie says:

      Hi Anne,
      Yep it’s money, but to admit that it’s money doesn’t make for good political theater and sort of runs up against the GOP arguments in favor of a free market.
      Thank you for visiting and commenting.

  2. eden baylee says:

    Hi Paul,

    Your writing is delightful and a joy to read. I so needed this.
    I was expecting some real serious shit, and not to say these issues are NOT serious, however…

    Some of my favourite lines:

    >>>“Great idea there Billy Bob. You’re a fucking genius.”

    >>>Because pissing off the French is one of America’s national pastimes.

    >>>Pepe spends most of his time grabbing a cat, which is ironically something akin to what a former president once bragged about.

    >>>For those who don’t like Tater Tots (seriously, who doesn’t like Tater Tots?) <<< Me, I don't like potatoes, hahah!

    These nutjobs

    Sydney Powell … what kind of circuitous, inane defense is that? Jaw-droppingly ridiculous. I know because I have to make up words to describe it!

    And Marjorie Taylor Greene… not the brightest spark …guess her mind is taken up with one too many conspiracy theories to squeeze in some history too.

    You know … you write terrific satire.

    eden 😀

    1. Paulie says:

      A month of ‘Murica in a NUTshell – stress NUT.

      I wonder if Henry Clay and Daniel Webster and Abe Lincoln ever dreamed that a Marjorie Taylor Greene would be sitting in Congress. Well likely not, they never dreamed of a woman in Congress.

      It’s amazing, the news cycle. Doctor Seuss and Pepe are all forgotten now and I’ve no doubt that Andrew Cuomo has sent a gift basket to Matt Gaetz.

      Satire was introduced to me early in life through Mort Sahl and Carl Reiner.

      I also read Jean Shepherd late at night in the Playboy magazines that I hid under the mattress (I’m proud to say that even as a boy I didn’t just look at the pictures – although I guess maybe I did sort of look at the pictures – just a little bit). 😁

      1. eden baylee says:

        Wow, Mort Sahl is still alive! I looked him up because I remember he was from my home town of Montreal… and … he does sit-down comedy on Twitter. It’s the weirdest thing if you want to check out. @mortsahlsays

        So if you said you didn’t look at the pictures at all, I would’ve known you were lying. 😆

Would love to hear from you

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