Since I was a little girl, my favorite cartoon character has been Pepe Le Pew. I looked at him as a poor, rejected little skunk who just wanted Penelope to love him.
After learning today in WAPO that Pepe is on the block to ‘exit, stage right’, I’m both saddened and disturbed. Sad, because I there won’t be any more Pepe Le Pew Hallmark ornaments to add to the ten or so I already have for my xmas tree. Sad because that little bugger was a big part of my childhood TV viewing, and he was cute. And sad because the reality is hard to deny, when you take a cold, hard look at those old cartoons through adult eyes.
What bothered me more, however, was realizing how I never really thought about the underlying theme of every one of the Pepe and Penelope cartoons – that men force themselves on women because they want to, and that women can do nothing but accept this as the status quo. Sure, as a little girl this wouldn’t have crossed my mind, but that’s the problem; repeatedly exposing little minds to these images, children absorb the lesson that it’s okay for a man to force himself on a woman. They take that out into the world, along with all the other media exposure of women as playthings for men, and it’s no wonder that so many of us have at least once in our lives been sexually harassed or abused.
I say this having been sexually assaulted by a friends’ cousin when I was in eighth grade. I played hookey one day with her and her brother, so during and immediately afterwards I told myself it was all my fault. It didn’t cross my mind at the time that the fact I was wearing my catholic school uniform when he came to pick me up should have been enough to make this grown-ass man make tracks and drive off as soon as he saw me. Or the fact that he knew I was 13 years old and in elementary school with his cousin. I was precocious, as an only child in a home with three adults, and so sounded older than I was. I have no idea how old he was.
When he was done, he drove me back and dropped me off on the corner of my street. Walking home, I contemplated telling my mother what had just happened. As I imagined the conversation in my head, I got as far as this:
“Mom, while Sue (not her real name) & I played hookey today, I got into a car with her cousin and went to his house somewhere where he took me to his bedroom and made me play with him until something squirted out of his penis.” (I was physically mature, but emotionally not so much.)
“If you hadn’t played hookey, this wouldn’t have happened.” Nope, not gonna happen.
I didn’t tell anyone about it until I was 28 years old. Mom, aghast, asked me why I didn’t tell her then. When I told her what I’d thought at the time, she admitted that I was probably right. I know she felt really bad about it, but there wasn’t much that could be done at that point. Ironically, I think I was prompted to say something after we’d watched the Bill Cosby stand up video that was so big back in the late 80’s. Weird.
Anyway, I think it would be better if Warner Brothers would revamp Pepe Le Pew into something less creepy, like maybe have Pepe and Penelope in a consensual relationship. I’m not sure what that could end up looking like, but it could show how people are supposed to treat someone they really care about, and how no means no. But with humor. Kinda like a Looney Tunes cartoon.
I have been a Kindle subscriber to The Washington Post since 2016, and I read it nearly every day, often checking back later, to keep up with the dumpster fire that has been the last 4 years. Over that time, the media has tried to call Trump’s lies what they are, but it’s still not happening consistently. Today, I started to read Jose A. Del Real’s article The turbocharged battle over truth is just beginning and was struck immediately by:
“President Trumps stands as a singular figure in American history for his willingness to entertain conspiracy theories from the Oval Office, and none has been more damaging or far reaching than his unsubstantiated claim (boldness added) that the 2020 election was rigged against him.”
Jose, please call a spade a damn shovel. What Trump is doing is not an “unsubstantiated claim”, it’s an outright lie told to gin up support among his base supporters. It’s how he keeps all of us tuning in again tomorrow to see what happens next. His psycopathy is the best combination of all the worst traits whose reality TV exposure and experience provided a deadly combination that has led to where we are now.
Please, mainstream media – words really do matter. Couching Trump’s lies euphemistically as anything other than a falsehood gives them cover. Do not legitimize an illegitimate act; call a spade a damn shovel already.
Remember as well – Trumpism and the Republican Party are one and the same.
I read the Washington Post every day on my Kindle, and every time I come across an article like the one in Monday’s edition by Erica Werner and Seung Min Kim with the headline “Congress is doing what it does best: Nothing. Meanwhile, coronavirus ravages the country and the economy stalls” it makes me so mad. The entire article is based on the premise that the cause for the delay in another relief bill is that ‘bipartisan urgency’ has faded, which is disingenuous if not a baldfaced lie.
Nowhere in this article do the writers mention that the HEROES Act was passed by the Democratically-led House in mid-May and sent to the Senate, where Mitch McConnell sat on it while continuing to focus on approving judges. Not until July 28 did the Republicans in the Senate even attempt to come up with their own plan, which somehow found billions of dollars for construction of a new FBI building a block from Trump’s Hotel as well as funds to replace the money Trump stole from the military to build his ’emergency wall’ but not to continue the $600 per week of enhanced unemployment benefits. Somehow, these old wealthy white men in the Republican Party see this as a problem, claiming that people who are making more money on unemployment won’t return to work, when the whole point is to avoid a repeat of the Great Depression. That $600 per week payment is mostly being put back into the economy by people who would be homeless, starving, and completely unable to live without it.
This article doesn’t mention that Mitch McConnell shut the Senate down for a long weekend, or that the House has had it’s August recess put on hold until the relief legislation is signed by the idiot in chief, President Stupid.
It would be so much less while also avoiding misleading the less informed in the public at large to be honest when writing articles like this. It isn’t Congress that’s doing nothing. It’s the Republicans and the administration that are doing nothing. The White House offering to extend the unemployment benefit for a week while they continue to dither and complain just puts things off another week. Nancy Pelosi isn’t stupid – she and the rest of the Democrats know that they cannot let the Senate Republicans have their way in this legislation, because their goal is to withhold as much help from the rest of us as possible. This, from (mostly) old white men who are being paid $174,000 a year of our tax dollars are more worried about making sure that businesses can deduct 100% of their meal and entertainment costs from their taxes than they have ever been in making sure that the other 90% of us can remain fed and housed, with utilities on and healthcare coverage.
So please, when you see the next headline claiming that the entire legislative branch is not functioning in our best interest, take a minute and do a little research. It’s likely inaccurate, like so many ‘both sides’ arguments are, tossing the Democrats in the House who have been passing legislation for the past two years to benefit us in with the non-governing, non-legislating Republicans. They have decided that their only purpose is to approve right-wing, incompetent judges, cut taxes for themselves, their donors and corporations, and keep their minority hands gripped firmly on every lever of power then can. Every dollar cut from the social safety net has been tucked into their pockets.
Mitch McConnell and his cronies in the Senate have abrogated their responsibility to do their jobs – for which they continue to be paid $174,000 a year. Do you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth from them?
How is it possible that someone so completely lacking in the ability (or desire) to care about anyone other than himself continues to have the support of, well, anyone at all? What does it say about the core values of everyone who still supports Trump and his minions, as we watch him further incite his base with his racist rhetoric?
Hillary wasn’t wrong when she referred to most of the Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables”, although I’m sad for what it says about the state of the country. I’m sure that many of them would insist that they “don’t have a racist bone in their body”, reminding everyone about that black guy from work they have lunch with sometimes or the African American couple they see at church every week. I would have insisted the same about myself, even though inside I knew it wasn’t really true. I just hoped I was able to offset the racism I was indoctrinated into – via the environments at home, school, play, and especially, I believe, on television – and treat everyone as an individual.
Any president would have been overwhelmed by so many crisis at once, but no other previous occupant of The White House has worked so hard to eliminate the many experts throughout the entire federal government as Trump has over just 3 ½ years. Add to this Trump’s unique and utter lack of relevant qualifications for any of the tasks a modern president of the United States is expected to be able to perform convincingly and without hesitation and here we are – with the president making every one of the current crisis we are living through worse with every Tweet and asinine pronouncement.
It is Trump’s utter lack of empathy that undergirds every awful decision, statement and executive order throughout this Orwellian presidency. I’ve read the DSM-5 Criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder, and I am NOT a psychiatrist or medical doctor, nor have I personally examined or interviewed Trump, but I am confident simply by observing Trump unscripted on hours of interviews that we are looking at the ‘real’ Donald Trump. There can be little doubt that Trump has something very wrong inside his brain, not the least of which is an obvious personality disorder.
And he now appears to believe that he his king of America.
In order to give himself a ‘photo-op’, Trump had the federal police attack peaceful protestors with flash-bang shells, tear gas and rubber bullets. This unprovoked assault could be heard live while Trump was addressing the nation from the Rose Garden and lying about being “an ally of all peaceful protestors”. After the peaceful protestors were forced away by these attacks, Trump stomped up to the front of St. John’s Episcopal Church (where he has darkened the door exactly one time) and held up an inverted bible (because he’s oblivious, not as a ‘sign’), because he’s only ever concerned for how his base of evangelical Christians see him. As an atheist, I find his use of a bible as a prop ironic; he has no clue what is inside (remember “Two Corinthians”?) but still the religious right condone his performance in the presidency as doing ‘god’s work”?
Trump actually used military force against peaceful protestors in order to appease his own ego? How can this be acceptable to anyone? Why aren’t Republicans stepping up and doing something to stop Trump before he goes totally authoritarian? Trump doesn’t care what Democrats say about his behavior, although there have still been many who have publicly rebuked Trump’s behavior and his inability to do what an actual president would do at a time like this.
Trump, who has never publicly admitted to any mistake because of his erroneous assumption that such an admission makes him look ‘weak’, is incapable of acknowledging his own inherent and learned racism. He wants us to believe that he has never been racist and therefore of course nothing he’s said or done has ever negatively affected those of color more than white folks, no matter the evidence we’ve seen and heard with our own eyes and ears (“What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening”). Trump’s inability to recognize his own faults make him incapable of correcting those behaviors going forward; when he acts surprised after his most recent racist statement provokes outrage, I think at some level he’s sincerely confused by his total lack of insight.
Trump’s racism is so much a part of who he is that he is incapable of even contemplating anything that could result a change in his current outlook on everything and everyone outside of himself. He seems to lack anything that resembles depth inside him or outside, in the relationships he has with those to whom he is either related, married, or holds sway over. Most of those in the latter category have a very transactional relationship with him – Republicans keep supporting him because of “judges, tax cuts and regulations”, while others do so out of greed or fear. All have one thing in common, though – they do so in order to benefit themselves first and foremost.
All those whose support has allowed Trump to remain in power do so in order to maintain their own positions – in and out of government, the entertainment industry (largely responsible for Trump’s fraudulent image of success), mainstream and right-wing media, evangelical leaders and leaders of countries not considered our allies. All must be, to the extent possible, removed from those positions and forced out of the limelight forever. No more should they be allowed to have their prior behavior whitewashed or be given positions on CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, New York Times, etc., from which they can pretend their history never happened. There can be no chance to absolve themselves of their responsibility for the rise of Trump to happen.
The country is now at a moral tipping point, and it looks very much like those of us on the side of what is right are stronger, louder and more engaged in the fight. Those who say that Biden is too old to change are wrong. We in the boomer generation (by chance of birth, not by choice) are not universally incapable of looking back on what was and, with fresh eyes and an open mind, acknowledging the truth – without our consent or awareness, we were convinced to believe that dark-skinned men in particular were an inherent threat to our well-being. This racist lie has been used to manipulate us all for generations in an us-versus-them mentality that even now is an open secret in many parts of the country.
I am sorry for being oblivious and accepting things as they were. It was hard for me to admit that I have always benefited from white privilege, and it’s even more difficult to be honest and admit that I can’t be sure whether or not I was at least somewhat aware of it back in the 1970’s. I can admit that I did things that I knew were against the law (like smoking weed) but yet never once did I consider being less bold about when or where I did so. I’ve always had a lead foot, and am almost always driving at least 5 miles over the posted speed limit, but somehow that hasn’t caused me to be worried about being pulled over and ticketed.
I can remember being in the car with my Mom while she waited to make a left turn. After she was waved ahead by a driver on the other side of the road, she remarked to me something about black drivers being so much more courteous. “Black drivers almost always let you go,” she told me, without ever offering any explanation of why she had come to that conclusion. It’s only in my more recent past that I’ve put two and two together – of course, black drivers are extremely courteous behind the wheel – they don’t want to do anything that might attract the attention of the police because of their fear of a fatal encounter! I have no idea if my Mom knew back in the 60’s why she was always yielded to on the road, and lost my chance to ask when she died in 2006.
The Republicans have calculated their most likely path to remaining in power, and that path has intentionally played white grievance as its trump card (no pun intended). The party was given the choice to go down a different path after the election of Barack Obama in 2008, but chose instead to double down on their platform of white-supremacy. The party’s claim that racism was no longer a thing stood in stark contrast to the open and obvious racism Trump has made such a part of his political brand.
Trump’s twisted view of ‘strength’ involves ordering others with weapons to fight on his behalf. Trump’s emotional vacuity is so complete he is psychologically incapable of even the slightest whiff of understanding, sympathy, empathy, compassion, or any other feeling that involves caring about someone else. He is uniquely and completely unqualified for the role he has been called on to play, and the Republicans complete refusal to acknowledge and address this clear and present danger to our democracy is unforgivable.
They will not change, because they refuse to put country over party. Jim Mattis’ rebuke of Trump’s stunt in Lafayette Square is welcome, but why did he remain silent now? His statement makes clear that he has always known who and what Trump is, yet he justified his continued silence for 3 ½ years. Thanks, Jim – better late than never, I supposed.
Their lack of character allows them to continue to put party over country, particularly all those who continue to maintain their silence despite knowing personally how dangerous Trump is in the office of the presidency. All who continue to support the Republican Party must be made to admit that they know what that support means.
Mainstream media outlets such as The Washington Post and The New York Times, should not continue to allow both-siderism to take up space anywhere in their publications, including within the opinion sections.
While all media outlets should do everything possible to ensure that their reporting is fair, there is no reason to provide space to right-wing nut jobs to spout their lies and conspiracy theories, like Hugh Hewitt did in The Washington Post recently.
In Hewitt’s opinion, the bogus ‘crime’ committed by the Obama administration that Trump has decided to call Obamagate (because following any word with ‘gate’ makes it a scandal) was the “intentional interference with the peaceful transition of power” in an effort to “cripple President Trump’s ability to govern…”
Let’s be really clear here – President Trump’s ability to govern has been crippled by his own lack of any coherent strategy to do so, under any and all circumstances. Trump’s only plan throughout the last three years has involved destroying everything that Obama did that benefitted the citizenry, the environment or the world while making bullshit claims of success. Instead of working for the American people, Trump’s sole focus has been to make himself and his cronies richer at our expense, with complete disregard for the future of the country and the planet.
Now, after spending billions of our tax dollars by stealing the funds appropriated by Congress for other purposes to build his stupid wall along the southern border, along the way stealing private property and destroying sacred sites of native Americans and wildlife sanctuaries, he’s tanked the economy and cost the lives of almost 100,000 Americans by virtue of his complete refusal to listen to anything that does not meet with his own preconceived notions about almost everything, regardless of the accuracy of his beliefs. His mind is so small, he simply lacks the basic self-awareness to admit that no one person can know everything.
As thousands of Americans die every day as a direct result of Trump’s refusal to listen to anyone with actual information (that now has been shown by a Columbia University model could have saved 83% of those who have died had social distancing and stay at home orders been put in place a mere two weeks earlier), Trump and the Republicans focus on everything except addressing this pandemic in a thoughtful, rational manner. Republicans continued refusal to legislate relief efforts that benefit the public on the basis that it will “discourage people from going back to work” are beyond outrageous and an outcome of their years of robbing the poor to finance the rich.
Instead of investigations about the mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic, Republicans in the Senate are ginning up nonsense about Hunter Biden. Instead of working on passing a stimulus that doesn’t help just their corporate donors but the people, they focus their time pushing unqualified, Federalist Society freaks into lifetime appointments throughout the Federal Judiciary.
We deserve having representation that cares about something other than maintaining their status quo. The time for complacency is over.