Editorials: Be happy and safe; and The pork barrel and the Congress to come

Transito cop
A Transito cop stands guard during heavy holiday traffic. Archive photo by Eric Jackson.

Don’t drive like a jerk…

Leave your intoxicating substances in the trunk until you get where you are going.

Don’t drink on the bus and throw beer cans out the window.

Don’t pretend that the risk of COVID is over.

Don’t take a gun when you go to celebrate the glories of your religion with family and friends.

Don’t ignore the red “beach closed” and yellow caution flags that SINAPROC puts up on the beaches.

Avoid situations in which your poverty makes you feel ashamed in the presence of people who are geeked out on materialist displays.

Be kind to weirdos and outcasts, and don’t get all defensive about it if you happen to be one of these.

It’s supposed to be the season of peace and joy. Don’t be an unfortunate footnote in the tragedy accounts in the post-holiday newspapers. Enjoy your life, and the lives of those around you, with what you have.


Hakeem Jeffries, set to be the minority leader, may actually come to dominate the House agenda in the incoming Congress. With the Republican majority in disarray, he’s a centrist who got no concerted opposition from progressives in a Democratic caucus that’s set to move a bit to the left. His hard work is cut out for him, but he will have his opportunities to lead. Photo from a CSPAN video.

An omnibus pork barrel to offend everybody, but…

The people who get all gushy about the wonderful the omnibus spending bill just passed by the US Congress and signed by President Biden generate their geysers from shallow and tainted wells. Those who get the most indignant about it play to the most foolish and destructive elements of the American electorate.

There are flecks of pork for the Democrats – funding for the National Labor Relations Board at a time of an upsurge in union organizing, inclusion of reforms to the Electoral Count Act to prevent a repeat of Donald Trump’s coup attempt after the last presidential election and increased corporate merger fees intended to slow the concentration of wealth in American life to name three.

However, Washington also raised military spending not so much to keep American forces strong but to keep defense contractors rich. The Maine lobster fishery got ghost net protections that may well lead to the extinction of right whales. Some Republican tax cut proposals didn’t make it into the bill but the rich gained billions on their retirement bennies while the poor lost on the child tax credits. It will be blamed on the states, but huge Medicaid health care spending cuts are on the way.

It was an unsightly budget compromise that would make the stuff the goes on in sausage factories look beautiful. But then, it funds the government through next year, and the most reactionary MAGA Republicans in the House are vowing to wage war against the 19 Senate Republicans who “threw away” their opportunity to threaten government shutdowns before the 2024 campaign season gets going full blast. To top that off the more perverse partisans on the Democratic side of the aisle are treated to a pre-Christmas mud rassling show between MAGA congresswomen Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene.

So, two more years of this for the 118th Congress? Bad enough, but not as bad as some of the gridlock we have seen.

Plus, things won’t remain static. There are already a few special elections pending and as we see the laughable fraud that’s representative-elect George Santos collapse there will probably be another one on New York’s Long Island in short order. Then, although there will not be the votes in the House to keep pedophiles and insurrectionists from being seated on the Republican side, prosecutions and convictions may end up forcing the GOP hand in some of those cases.

We shall see how the combination of more specific local scrutiny but lower voter turnout will add up in by-elections. Probably ideology and identity will be more important, with influential national backing and idiocy from Fox News et al taking a back seat. The Republicans probably won’t lose their paper-thin House majority, but they already appear short of a working majority and that situation will probably get worse for them.

Are we about to see an interregnum of divided government – divided into four, rather than two? Corporate centrists versus progressives on the Democratic side, with MAGAs versus those whom the far right derides as RINOs in the Republican caucus – can that work? It probably actually can, albeit not as well as anyone would like it to work.


Queen B
A princess who used to be queen. Five-year-old official portrait by Jeroen van der Meyde.

Nature is under control but not disturbed.

Princess Beatrix, former Queen of The Netherlands


Bear in mind…


Each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it, in relative opacity.

Frantz Fanon


Confuse the enemy. Keep him in the dark on your intentions. Sometimes what seems a victory isn’t really a victory and sometimes a defeat isn’t really a defeat. Whether in attacking, counterattacking, or defensive tactics, the idea of attacking should remain central, to always keep the initiative.

General Vo Nguyen Giap


It’s better to look ahead and prepare, than to look back and regret.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee


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