by Errington C. Thompson, MD –
Misinformation is being shoveled at us at an alarming rate.
We cannot count on mainstream media to filter out the lies or to even do basic fact-checking. It is up to us to be educated.
A True Pickle
Well, the Republicans have ousted their own Speaker, Kevin McCarthy. The idiocy of such a move cannot be overstated. Remember, it was less than a year ago that we went through an excruciating process of 15 ballots before McCarthy was elected.
Republicans have a slim majority in the House—five votes more than Democrats (the same margin Nancy Pelosi used so successfully!). Within the Republican Party there is a small faction of about 40 Republican members who make up the Freedom Caucus. And just like the attempt to shut down the government in September, it is the Freedom Caucus members who are holding the House—and therefore, holding America—hostage.
One major problem is that nobody can please all the Republicans all the time, and some of them you can’t please at any time. Kicking McCarthy out is fine, but there is nobody to replace him—unless they vote unanimously for Jim Jordan of Ohio.
The other problem is nobody wants to compromise. This is bad. The entire premise of democracy is that people with different ideas and different agendas have to compromise. That’s how we’ve survived for almost 240 years. The question is, with someone in charge of the House whose idea of compromise is, “You shut up! We’re gonna do it my way!” can we survive the next two years?
Wenner is a Sexist and Racist
Jan Wenner helped start Rolling Stone magazine back in 1967. He has a new book coming out called The Masters. It is about the founders of Rock ‘n’ Roll. He interviews Rock ‘n’ Roll legends like Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger. So, Mr. Wenner did an interview with The New York Times in which he was asked why Black and female musicians were excluded from his book. He stated that none of the women he knew were “articulate enough” to be included in the book. Of course, to add insult to injury, he also went ahead and lumped Black artists into the category of too inarticulate to be included. Mr. Wenner, who was on the Board of Directors of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, has been fired, removed, or dumped.
If you do some superficial research on the origins of Rock ‘n’ Roll, you invariably end up somewhere around 1954 to 1956, when Rock ‘n’ Roll really became American popular music. Artists like Bill Haley, Elvis Presley, and Jerry Lee Lewis come to mind. As a matter fact, there are some “authorities” that will argue that Bill Haley and his song “Rocket 88” (which was written and first performed by Ike Turner of Ike and Tina Turner fame) was the origin of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Well, like many things, if you learn more and dig deeper, you find that Rock ‘n’ Roll music, with a danceable beat supported by the drums and prominent guitars, piano and/or saxophone, has been around since the early 1930s. There is no doubt that Rock ‘n’ Roll is a mixture of gospel, rhythm and blues, and country music. Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s 1938 gospel hit “Rock Me” sounds very R-n-R’ish (is that a word?). Her 1944 tune, “Down by the Riverside,” features her playing a wonderful guitar solo with a distorted guitar sound, which would be copied a decade later by Chuck Berry and others.
I’m not saying that Sister Rosetta Tharpe is the founder of Rock ‘n’ Roll. I’m saying that with just a little research, you will find that Blacks (Big Joe Turner, Fats Domino, Arthur Crudup) and women played a critical role in helping to develop the music that we call Rock ‘n’ Roll. All American music comes from gospel music. Gospel gave birth to jazz, country, and Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Okay, back to Jan Wenner, he is a racist and a sexist. There are plenty of good books on early Rock ‘n’ Roll. Don’t buy his; buy others instead.
If you have a little bit of gray hair, you remember that the Republican Party was the party of organization. They never argued with one another in public. Their patron saint, Ronald Reagan, said the 11th Commandment for the party was “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.” And for the most part, they presented a unified front. If we had a Republican speaker, he would make sure that everyone toed the line in public.
Well, things have changed since those old days. One of the biggest changes is earmarks, also known as pork-barrel projects. Every representative wanted to bring home federal money to build a community center, a hospital, or an addition to the local university or community college. Earmark money was controlled by the Speaker of the House. If you agreed with this or that the Speaker would make sure that your favorite project got funded.
Earmarks are gone. The Speaker only has his winning personality to keep everyone in line. Well, Kevin McCarthy has found out that his personality is not enough to keep people in line. A small group of Republicans were not happy with the budget deal that McCarthy and President Joe Biden agreed to just a couple of months ago. In order to get additional budget cuts, these anarchists decided to hold the government hostage.
This is ridiculous. We have a budget process. The budget is discussed, debated, and argued. If you lose the budget battle in committee, you have another chance to debate and discuss when it comes to the floor for a vote. There is yet another chance to change the budget when the Senate version is reconciled with the House version.
But this small group of Republicans have failed to convince their fellow Republicans of the brilliance of their point of view. So they decided to hijack the whole process. First, they tried to force a government shutdown so they could break their word, again. Then, when the hapless Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, broke that movement and got most Republicans and all but one Democrats to continue funding the government (for six weeks), the anarchists turned on him. And using the very mechanism he had agreed to in begging to be made speaker eight months ago, they kicked him out of office! So now they get to try again to shut the government down in November.
Our system of government is about compromise. If you don’t like to compromise, you shouldn’t be in government.
The one thing that we have learned from Republicans is that those who shout the loudest about social values and Christianity usually have the most deviant behavior to hide. Do you remember conservative Republican Senator Larry Craig, who was caught in a sting operation trying to pick up guys in an airport bathroom? Then there was Representative Mark Foley, who was preying on teenage boys who were interning on Capitol Hill. Now, we have Representative Lauren Boebert, who was getting her freak on during a performance of Beetlejuice.
First, she was vaping in the theater. A pregnant woman behind Lauren, the Good, asked her to stop. Of course, Lauren threw a fit. Thankfully, the theater has a surveillance camera that captured it all. Then Lauren and her date started groping each other like they are teenagers. Look, two consenting adults should be able to do whatever they want behind closed doors. If you are in a performance hall, that’s different. If you are a Congresswoman screaming about family values at the top of your lungs, you deserve to be voted out of office and thrown in the dustbin of history like Sarah Palin.
Debates and the Media
Can we all agree that we should stop doing these stupid presidential debates? These affairs are not presidential, and they aren’t debates. Currently, they are a great way for large media companies to rake in more money. They do nothing to inform the public about the candidates. The candidates don’t answer the questions. The candidates don’t stick to their time limits. The candidates spew well-rehearsed attack/applause lines. The whole fiasco does nothing to further our democracy.
While I’m on the subject of the media, can we all also agree that the Sunday morning political shows should be canned? These shows were developed in the 1960s when we never really saw or heard from our politicians. Now, every politician has a website. They have podcasts. There are 24-hour news shows that interview “important” politicians all of the time. The fact that Meet the Press interviewed Donald Trump proves these shows are useless. There was no fact-checking. Trump was allowed to lay down his river of lies, and man, did his lies flow. It was a flood of lies. Meet the Press demonstrated that the show is not about informing the public but about making money and generating clicks on their website. Stay educated. Do not depend on the mainstream media for your information.
We have seen the good that a truly strong union can do. After five months on the picket line, the screenwriters have a new contract! They have better benefits and better pay. They have some protection against AI. Now, let’s see if Detroit will do the right thing and pay the autoworkers the pay raise that they are asking for.
Thank you, President Biden for going to Detroit and supporting the autoworkers!
Honesty and Integrity
In order for our government to work, we need to believe that the people we elected are working for us. They shouldn’t be working for special interests. They can’t be on the payroll of some big corporation. They can’t be on the take for some foreign government. Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, has been indicted for bribery. The FBI raided his house and found hundreds of thousands of dollars all over the house. Money was stuffed in coat pockets, in drawers, and basically everywhere. He even had gold bricks, the James Bond Goldfinger, gold bars hidden in his house.
I’m all for a man planning for emergencies, but this is more than planning. This was hiding. I know Senator Menendez has not been convicted of a crime, and you are innocent until proven guilty. I also believe in honesty in public officials. I’m sorry his story about the truth will come out, and that he keeps money around the house for emergencies just isn’t believable. He should resign. Now!
We must continue to fight for honesty in government. We need to support politicians who will represent us with integrity.
America must admit that our healthcare system is broken. Doctors and nurses are stressed to the max. They are leaving the profession in large numbers because of burnout. Patients with insurance are getting the runaround. A family member was given an infusion of a new medicine that helps combat rheumatoid arthritis. One treatment costs less than $100 after insurance. The other infusion cost over $8,000 after insurance. How is this possible? Another family member needs a highly technical procedure. She has been battling doctors for over three months trying to get this procedure done.
We need universal healthcare. We need a system that works for patients, doctors, and nurses. The system that we currently have seems to work for big businesses and insurance companies. We can do much better.
Finally, Happy 99th Birthday, President Jimmy Carter!
Stay informed. Stay educated! VOTE!
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed here, as well as assertions of facts, are those of the author. They do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of The Urban News.