The past is never past, the news hardly ever new

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William Faulkner could have told Swamp Rabbit a thing or two about what’s important and what ain’t.

We were still trying to clean up after Hurricane Ida knocked down power lines and flooded our shacks last week as it swept through the Tinicum swamp. Meanwhile, Covid-19 raged on and random bad news dominated a high-pressure zone that stretched from Washington, D.C., to Kabul, Afghanistan.

“What good is the news if it’s presented without context?” I asked Swamp Rabbit as he was dragging his waterlogged straw mattress into the sunlight. “What good is the news media if reporters don’t re-examine past events to help explain how we got from there to here?”

My mind wasn’t only on climate change. I was thinking of a recent news story about Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who blamed Joe Biden for the clumsy withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan but failed to mention that her father, former VP Dick Cheney, a war profiteer and war criminal, played a major role in suckering the U.S. into the multi-trillion-dollar quagmire in Afghanistan and the even more costly debacle in Iraq. The writer of the story didn’t mention her father either.

“The media rarely report on Evil Dick these days,” I said. “Or his boy George W. Bush, a war criminal who took up portrait painting when he retired from creating international chaos. Or Paul Wolfowitz. Remember that weasel? Or that double-talking old buzzard Donald Rumsfeld, who died in obscurity this summer. I couldn’t remember his name at first, but I knew he used to be on TV every day lying about both wars as the death toll grew.”

“It’s only natural we should want to forget them miserable bastards,” Swamp Rabbit said. “Here, help me with this mattress.”

But I wasn’t done complaining. I reminded him that the U.S. Supreme Court had just conspired with the new Confederates to help outlaw abortions in Texas, even though Roe v. Wade is still on the books. The new Texas law allows bounty hunters to turn in anyone who aids women who seek abortions. It’s eerily reminiscent of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, which arguably helped start the Civil War. But that’s ancient history, right?

Speaking of history, there seems little chance congressional Democrats will unite to block the new Jim Crow voter suppression laws being passed by many of the Republican-run state legislatures. And the Dems are unlikely to follow through on much of their $3.5 trillion budget plan, which includes initiatives for paid family and medical leave, expanding Medicare, creating good jobs for the poor, making sure the rich pay a lot more in taxes, and coping with climate disasters like Ida, which wiped out large sections of Louisiana before it headed north.

“In the end, the Dems may do very little to change things, even though they have majorities in both houses of Congress,” I said. “They’ve forgotten how the Republicans made fools of them when they had majorities in 2008, and the media aren’t inclined to remind them. The Dems will never get hip to William Faulkner’s great insight: ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.'”

“I hate when you lecture me about the past,” Swamp Rabbit said. “Just hold this here ladder for me so I can climb up and fix my shack.”

“Hold your own ladder,” I said. “In a few years your shack will be gone and the swamp, too. The media will still be reporting the so-called news without context and with no respect for the lessons of history. The Democrats will still be losing battles they could have won if they had any vision or spirit.”

“And you will still be a doom prophet and a pain in the ass,” he replied.

Posted in climate change, humor, Iraq war, mainstream media, mid-term elections, voter suppression | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Farewell to rock & roll’s coolest timekeeper

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Charlie Watts, 1941-2021

“All the great ones are checking out,” I said to my neighbor Swamp Rabbit after hearing that Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts had died Tuesday at age 80. “It’s the end of an era.”

Swamp Rabbit sipped whiskey and shook his head. “That’s what you said when David Bowie died. End of an era. Maybe it’s just the end of your era.”

“Don’t be a smart-ass,” I said, fighting an urge to kick him off my porch. “Charlie Watts was the timekeeper for the best rock & roll band ever. The consummate pro, cool without trying to be. Hard-driving but tasteful, always in control of the unruly forces around him.”

“OK, Charlie was cool,” Swamp Rabbit said. “But rock & roll drummers are a dime a dozen, doncha think?”

He was trying to annoy me. I told him Charlie’s style was spare, his fills sharp and often surprising. His playing was essential to the Stones’ sound. He joined the band in 1963 (!), when the young Brits were covering songs by bluesmen and early rock and rollers. The Stones evolved around him. He was at the top of his game when Mick Jagger and Keith Richards started writing great songs: “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Get Off of My Cloud,” “Paint It Black,” “Gimme Shelter,” “Brown Sugar,” on and on. You can’t have a great band without a great drummer.

Swamp Rabbit, who is at least 20 years my junior, refilled his dirty glass. “You’re living in the past,” he said. “The Stones ain’t made no great songs since Reagan was president.”

I told him great songs still sound great decades after they first appear, which is why many young music fans like old Rolling Stones hits. Music that fades quickly into the past is often music that wasn’t very good to begin with.

He stroked his skimpy goatee. “Blah blah. Every generation thinks the music they grew up listening to is special.”

I lost my patience. “You came of age with rock & roll from the late 1990s. Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock, Korn. That ugly Woodstock ’99 festival. Music for spoiled, clueless white boys pretending to be rebels, with no knowledge of rock and roll’s roots. I’ll bet you all go to Trump rallies now, not music festivals.”

“You’re crazy,” he said. “I like them old blues and folkie records. Pete Seeger was my hero. And Mississippi Fred McDowell: I do not play no rock and roll.”

I calmed down and realized I’d been equating the death of Charlie Watts with the end of rock & roll as a medium for thoughtful, free-spirited outsiders. With memories of giving the finger to the dreary institutions that controlled my early life. With sitting in my sixth-grade Catholic school class drumming on my desk as “Let’s Spend the Night Together” played in my head.

“I ain’t got no use for your nostalgia,” Swamp Rabbit said. “All’s I want to know is who’s your pick in the ‘Last Stone Rolling’ pool? I’ll bet you a case of Jack Daniels that Keith outlives Mick.”

I gave him the evil eye. “I’m not sure, rabbit. but they’re both gonna outlive you if you don’t shut up or get off my porch.”

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OK, I give up — why were we in Afghanistan?

America’s 20-year war and nation-building experiment in Afghanistan came to a predictably bad end over the weekend. Since then, foreign policy “experts” have been speculating what went wrong, but few are admitting the effort was a colossal mistake from the start. Today I asked a local expert, my neighbor Swamp Rabbit, to shed light on this dauntingly complex subject.

“Afghanistan wasn’t a mistake,” he said. “It was a money grab.”

Asked to elaborate, he noted that the U.S. spent well over $1 trillion dollars on Afghanistan since the initial invasion. Many billions went to military equipment and social programs and infrastructure projects, he added, and billions more to people connected to for-profit companies that provided services to the U.S. military — everything from cooking and laundry to the trucking of vital supplies. A significant amount was used to fund protection rackets that ensured safe passage for the trucks by paying off the Taliban.

“That’s crazy,” I said. “Sounds like something out of Catch-22, the Joseph Heller novel.”

“I don’t know nothing about no Catch-22,” he said. “But I know big money is gonna tempt all sorts of peeps to forget their loyalties and line their pockets. Civilian contractors, U.S. soldiers, U.S. government flunkies, Afghan warlords and political big shots, the Taliban — ain’t nobody immune to big money.”

He read from a 2016 article by a New Yorker writer whose words resonate five years later:

Within the U.S. government, there is growing recognition that America’s vast expenditures in Afghanistan have been self-defeating, and that the conflict is more complex than simply fighting the Taliban or terrorism.

“A sad truth, but why were we in Afghanistan in the first place?” I said, paraphrasing the question Norman Mailer asked a half-century ago in his famously incoherent novel Why Are We In Vietnam? “We should have left after failing to get Osama bin Laden when he was there. We were fighting for unclear reasons for people who had contempt for our way of life and a long tradition of successfully resisting foreign invaders.”

“Just follow the money,” Swamp Rabbit said, belaboring his point. “The dough could have been assigned to our own inter-structure and climate change and whatnot. To helping poor peeps at home get decent houses and healthcare. But at-home spending is too easy to track. It’s a lot easier for contractors and everybody else to steal money that gets sent to the other side of the world.”

“But it’s not just about money,” I said. “It’s about ignorance and arrogance. It’s about the mainstream media, which only reports the truth about our wars when the wars are winding down. It’s about America’s refusal to learn from the Vietnam debacle. How did we end up in Afghanistan and then Iraq, an even bigger mistake?”

“Iraq wasn’t a mistake,” Swamp Rabbit countered. “It was a –“

“Don’t say it, you’re driving me crazy,” I said. “Better to call attention to that New Yorker piece and the Washington Post report called the Afghanistan Papers. Maybe people will be on their guard the next time the experts try to start a war.”

“I doubt it,” he replied. “But at least they’ll know it’s nothing but a money grab.”

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The Year of the Yahoo

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Gulliver (or is it Gov. Phil Murphy?) encounters the yahoos

“What exactly you mean by yahoo?” Swamp Rabbit said, sounding defensive.

I’d just finished telling him that yahoo-ism is a syndrome that’s been trending for years in this country. That the yahoos among us became louder and more conspicuous when the pandemic hit and Republican politicians began mocking everyone who believes in masking and vaccinations.

I told him Jonathan Swift coined the term “yahoo” in Gulliver’s Travels to identify the disagreeable humans who constantly make messes in the land of the Houyhnhnms, an enlightened, evolved race of horses (maybe a bit too evolved). Swift’s yahoos climb trees and “discharge their excrements” at Gulliver when he encounters them.

“Yahoos are humans who are proudly and stubbornly ignorant,” I explained. “They delight in activities that are mindless and cruel. They have a strong tribal instinct and a countervailing contempt for undertakings that might serve the common good. Yahoos in our country are easily led by unscrupulous cynics who want to retain political power by exploiting their fears and misconceptions.”

“They’re Confederates,” Swamp Rabbit said, catching on. “They say don’t tread on me, don’t try to feed me no Yankee medicines, don’t tell me Biden didn’t steal the election… I stay away from peeps like that.”

I shook my head. “They’re all over the place, not just down South. You can’t ignore them, but you can’t talk to them either. If you try, they drive you to drink.”

I told him about a recent encounter between New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and a gang of yahoos at an event where Murphy gave a speech in which he took a minute to urge the unvaccinated to get jabbed. When the yahoos heckled him, Murphy lost his cool and said, “You’ve lost your minds! You are the ultimate knuckleheads! And because of what you are saying and standing for, people are losing their life!”

Murphy meant there is a direct link between people who refused vaccination and the latest upsurge in covid infections and deaths. His frustration stemmed from knowing that yahoos always argue they can say “no” because the government effort to accomplish universal vaccination is a violation of their liberty. And so what if liberty, as they define it, amounts to a license to harm others? So what if it’s nothing but the lowest sort of selfishness?

“What would your boy Swifty think of today’s yahoos?” Swamp Rabbit said. “Would he be able to spot ’em?”

“Oh sure,” I replied. “All he’d have to do is watch for the good old boys and girls who are discharging their excrements at doctors and other health professionals who are trying to save their lives.”

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Wishful thinking, a.k.a. bipartisanship

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I told Swamp Rabbit that the country is in a one-step-forward, two-steps-back historical loop, and there’s no reason to believe things will get better anytime soon. He didn’t want to believe this, so I summarized some news stories for him that illustrate how grim the situation is:

  • Sane Floridians are struggling to resist the policies of Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Donald Trump wanna-be who continues to oppose mask and vaccine mandates even though his state recently broke its own record for most covid infections in a single day.  
  • Everyone knows “extreme heat events” are becoming more severe because of global warming, but the much-balleyhooed “bipartisan” infrastructure bill includes no money for climate measures.  
  • The Biden administration continues to voice support for passage of voting rights legislation but has yet to explain how this will happen unless Democrats strike down the filibuster and win cooperation from Senate DINOs like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

“There’s a lot of wishful thinking going on,” I said. “Some Democrats think they can shame Republicans into doing the right thing. They think they can sweet-talk fossil fuel freaks into agreeing the climate crisis is a top priority. They think bipartisanship still exists. No, no and no.”

“Your problem is you ain’t got no patience,” Swamp Rabbit replied, just to be contrary. “You gotta give peeps a chance to be reasonable.”

I waved him off. “Reasonable people already know that not being vaccinated is a danger to public health. That humans will be baked like clams unless the climate crisis is solved. That Republicans have no time for policy ideas that don’t bolster white supremacy and states’ rights, and help the rich get richer.”

“That’s some bleak shit,” Swamp Rabbit said, shaking his head. “How you expect anything to get done if there ain’t no compromise? No bipartisan pow wow?”

I almost told him that you can’t compromise with Confederates. You can’t haggle with people who don’t accept the results of a fair election, who blame the country’s problems on black people, and who refuse to raise taxes on the rich to improve the country’s infrastructure. But he’d already heard all that, so I figured brevity was best.

“Bipartisanship is bullshit,” I said. “The longer it takes Democrats to admit this, the longer it will take them to pull together and get this country out of the loop it’s stuck in.”

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Hey, let’s appoint Jeff Davis to investigate the Civil War

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If the one and only Confederate president were alive today, the GOP might have a job for him

So Nancy Pelosi tells Kevin McCarthy no, you can’t appoint foes of the democratic process to a committee investigating an attack on the democratic process. She’s referring to Jan. 6, when an angry mob of Trumpers stormed the Capitol with the goal of preventing legislators from certifying the presidential election results.

The rejected appointees are Rep. Jim Banks and Rep. Jim Jordan, prominent supporters of the big lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump. Jordan and Banks and many other Republicans in Congress helped fuel the lie by falsely claiming that voter fraud may have helped Joe Biden beat Trump. The lie inspired Trump’s yahoos to attack the Capitol.

Which leads me to ask my neighbor Swamp Rabbit what’s going on in the political world (as opposed to the real world): “Do you get the feeling that something basic changed during the four-year Trump travesty? Why else would Republicans make light of an insurrection attempt? Why else would they try to appoint guys who condoned the crime and may have been close to the people who planned it?”

Swamp Rabbit is in a cynical mood. “Ain’t no mystery,” he says. “Almost all them Republicans in Congress condoned the crime, as you put it. They rejected democracy when they challenged the fair and square election of Biden. They let the world know they represent minority rule by a rogue party run by a wanna-be dictator. Anybody don’t see that ain’t got the sense they was born with.”

He snaps open a can of beer and continues: “So the answer to your question is yeah, things have changed. Them good-mannered bigots who used to be the face of the GOP was pushed out by Trump goons like Jordan who don’t pretend to believe in nothing but white supremes and states’ rights. Appointin’ Jordan to look into 1/6 was like hiring a firebug to conduct an arson probe.”

“Or choosing Jefferson Davis to investigate the causes of the Civil War,” I say. “That’s what I was getting at when I asked what’s happening. Republicans are giving the finger to the federal government by siding with Trump’s insurrectionists. How long can this go on before we’re in a new civil war with the Confederates, I mean Republicans?”

“You know the answer,” Swamp Rabbit says. “The war’s already started. The difference this time is the Confederates think they can win without paying for their own army.”

Footnote: McCarthy had named five Republicans to serve on the committee but withdrew all their names after Jordan and Banks were rejected. Pelosi says the committee will proceed, but without the bogus cooperation of McCarthy and other Trump sycophants.

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Time’s running out, but Biden still won’t voice the f-word

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The filibuster is still being used to block civil rights legislation

The consensus was that Joe Biden gave a rousing speech Tuesday in Philadelphia that will do nothing to derail voter suppression efforts in red states around the country. So what was the point?

I asked my neighbor Swamp Rabbit but he was too drunk or depressed to comment, so I answered for him: “The point was to buy time, I guess, in the hope that Senate Democrats In Name Only (mainly Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema) will rejoin the home team to ensure passage of the For the People Act, if and when the Senate votes on it.”

Biden accurately noted the gravity of the situation — “We’re facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War” — but somehow failed to mention that there is no hope for For the People unless Democrats use their ultra-thin majority to either strike down or amend the Senate’s filibuster provision, which was often used in past eras to block civil rights legislation. Amazingly, he didn’t even voice the word “filibuster” during his 25-minute speech.

Meanwhile, the new civil war is heating up and the new Confederates are advancing on all fronts. Most notably, a platoon of Democratic legislators has had to retreat all the way to Washington, D.C., to prevent a Republican voter suppression bill from becoming law in Texas. The Texas Dems are counting on Biden and Senate Dems to turn the tide.

But that isn’t likely to happen anytime soon. There exists a yawning gulf between Biden’s stirring rhetoric and the ruthless tactics of Republicans lawmakers who no longer even pretend to believe in protecting the voting rights of those likely to vote against them. And another gulf between Democrats who support voting rights and the DINOs who have sided with the forces that are restricting those rights.

“What did you expect?” said Swamp Rabbit, breaking his silence after downing a double shot of some vile home brew. “Biden is an Obama Democrat — too much talk, not enough action. A reacher across the aisle. A guy who thinks he can compromise with racists. If this is democracy’s biggest test since the Civil War, and Dems have a majority in the Senate, then how come Biden ain’t trying harder to get the DINOs to do the right thing? Why not go to their home states and appeal to the suckers who voted for them?”

“Manchin is a millionaire and a faux-populist in a dirt-poor Republican state,” I replied. “Sinema is an insecure dummy whose politics became more rightwing as her power grew. She recently wrote an error-riddled op-ed defending the filibuster. One of the DINOs might jump to the GOP if Biden puts too much pressure on them.”

Swamp Rabbit laughed. “Let ’em jump. The Dems can pick up Senate seats in other states. What’s the point of having a majority if some of your soldiers are gonna switch sides during the most important battles?”

“Beats the hell out of me,” I confessed. “All I know is the Confederates will keep attacking. If the Dems lose this battle, Jim Crow wins the war.”

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A major court victory for the new Confederates (Happy 4th!)

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Just in time for the holiday, the U.S. Supreme Court further divided the country with a 6-3 ruling that finished neutering the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. As a writer for The Atlantic put it:

Republicans will understandably view Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion [re Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee] upholding two disputed Arizona statutes as a green light to pass voting restrictions that could disproportionately limit the ability of minority groups to vote…

Swamp Rabbit, doing his impression of Foghorn Leghorn, the former Looney Tunes star from the Deep South, put it this way:

“Listen up, ah say, listen up, son: You Yankees who think you won the War Between the States ain’t comprehending the gist of what’s goin’ on, especially now that we put enough bigots on the Court to kill them laws that protect folks who ain’t inclined to vote Republican, meaning them that ain’t white or ain’t good ol’ boys. You call it voter suppression but we call it states’ rights, and you better, ah say, you better believe we gonna change them voting laws faster than you can whistle Yankee Doodle.”

“Enough,” I said. “This court decision makes a mockery of the entire civil rights movement. It pulls Jim Crow out of the dustbin of history and puts him in charge of the GOP.”

“Get over it,” Swamp Rabbit replied, playing devil’s advocate. “Jim Crow has been running the GOP for decades. Only difference now is the Supreme Court ain’t been packed with this many bigots since Dred Scott back in 1857.”

I objected to his assertion. Surely the Court was just as bigoted in 1896, when it issued the Plessy v Ferguson decision. And there was Shelby County v Holder in 2013, which took the first big bite out of the VRA and involved some of the same bigots who are on the Court now. (Historians will call these bigots the Roberts Court.)

But the rabbit’s hyperbole was forgivable. After all, what liberal-minded person would have believed a few years ago that the Court would turn the clock back to a time when red states, many of them former Confederate states, could use bogus concerns about fraud to create obstacles to voters who don’t support white supremacist policies?

“A lot of peeps knew this was coming,” Swamp Rabbit said, correcting me. “It ain’t no coincidence that red states all over the country are passing voter suppression laws at the same time the Supremes are whittling down federal laws against voter suppression.”

“You’re right,” I conceded. “For now, the only solution is for Senate Democrats to get rid of the filibuster. They need to be able to use a simple majority to pass legislation that makes it illegal for states to legitimize unreasonable voter restrictions. They need to do this before the midterms.”

Swamp Rabbit chuckled and did Foghorn Leghorn again: “Listen up, ah say, listen up, son: We went over this last week. The problem is them Democrats need a sharp leader to unite the party against the filibuster, and what they got instead is that old fool Chuck Schumer and folks like Joe Manchin, who’s about as sharp as a bowling ball. It ain’t happenin’, son. Happy Fourth of July.”


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For the People Act was dead on arrival. What now, Dems?

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I was in a quandary, like other non-Trumpers who are watching the Republican Party’s full-scale effort to strip voting rights from as many Democrats as it takes to ensure future elections are won by extreme right-wingers.

One might assume this would be the media’s No. 1 story, but one would be wrong. The Republican plan to kill democracy in America apparently isn’t sexy enough to merit any more coverage than pop singer Britney Spears’ conflict with her father, or the mental breakdown of Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons during the NBA playoffs.

“Well, so what?” Swamp Rabbit said. “’Oops!…I Did It Again’ was a major hit. And you got no idea how many sports fans hate Ben Simmons. Them’s big stories.”

“But this is real news,” I replied. “Senate Republicans blocked the For the People Act from moving forward last week. They won’t even debate it. They know passage of the bill would prevent them from imposing state-level restrictions on Blacks and other voting blocs they don’t like. And it would strike a blow against gerrymandering and dark money in politics.”

“If For the People is such a big deal, how come the Dems didn’t fight harder to get it passed?” the rabbit countered. “They got the 51-vote majority in the Senate if you count the vice-president.”

I explained to him for the tenth time that passage of the bill would require 60 Senate votes, not 51, unless Democrats changed the filibuster rule that effectively allows Mitch McConnell and his cronies to shoot down all Democratic legislation. And I mentioned that McConnell is getting essential help from Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, the two most prominent DINO senators.

“Republicans are taking control of the electoral machinery state by state,” I said. “They want to make sure they have new laws on their side the next time they try to steal an election, like Trump tried to do in 2020.”

“They’re dressing tyranny in the garb of states’ rights,” I added, “just like the Dems did when Reconstruction was struck down in the post-Civil War South.”

Swamp Rabbit balked. “A lot of peeps think states’ rights is what keeps this country from being took over by Black Lives Matter and Critical Race Theory. They don’t like the federal gov’mint tellin’ them what to do.“

I was tired of his devil’s advocate act. “That’s what the federal government is for, dummy. To make sure the states let people vote and don’t allow lynching or slavery and so on. The voting rights fight is the Civil War, Part Two — or Part 10, maybe. Johnny Reb is winning.“

“Maybe he is, maybe he ain’t,“ the rabbit said. “Speaking of slaves, did you know Britney’s nasty old dad still controls all her money? There oughta be a law.“

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To the moon with you, Bezos, and beyond!

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I was reading about zillionaire Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon, the world’s largest Internet company. He arguably became the richest person in history during the Covid-19 pandemic thanks to a huge upsurge in online sales. He owns Whole Foods. He owns Washington Post. His new multi-deck yacht is so big, it comes with a support yacht for his helicopter. He will be flying to space in July on a rocket ship built by his “space company,” Blue Origin.

Oh, and there’s this: Bezos thinks people are “inherently lazy.” As recently noted in The New York Times:

Some of the practices that most frustrate [Amazon warehouse] employees — the short-term-employment model, with little opportunity for advancement, and the use of technology to hire, monitor and manage workers — come from Jeff Bezos…

To help maximize profits, the big chief established an oppressive work environment in which warehouse employees are quickly replaced as they become “less eager” to exhaust themselves. Pre-pandemic data showed that “Amazon was losing three percent of its hourly associates each week — meaning its turnover was roughly 150 percent a year.” Meaning it “had to replace the equivalent of its entire work force roughly every eight months.”

The statistics gave me a headache. “Why do workers in this country put up with glorified sweatshop operators like Bezos?” I shouted. “Anybody want to take a shot at answering that question?”

There was only one other human in the swamp that day, so I wasn’t expecting too many responses.

“Too many snowflakes,” Swamp Rabbit said. “Not enough peeps like Bezos, who ain’t afraid to spend millions to get flown to outer space instead of using his dough to treat them warehouse grunts like humans.”

My grizzled friend told me Bezos and two others will be on the upcoming space flight, which will last eleven minutes and soar to more than 60 miles above Earth.

“Eleven minutes and sixty miles?” I said. “Is that all? Very disappointing.”

“Sixty miles is pretty high, Odd Man. I bet you ain’t never been that high unless you was shooting meth or something.”

“Forget about me,” I told him. “I’m saying Earth’s foremost megalomaniac should at least go to the moon. The media would love him. If he’s the visionary he presents himself as, he’ll fly to Uranus and greenlight the biggest warehouse anywhere. There are no labor unions on Uranus. Workers are super-cheap.”

“Yeah, but they turn into icicles in two minutes,” Swamp Rabbit said. “The turnover is brutal, even by Bezos’ standards.”

“You’re right,” I conceded. “Fact is, the Solar System isn’t big enough for a jerk like Bezos. He should keep flying all the way to Alpha Centauri and send us a postcard when he gets there.”

“Dang. That wouldn’t be for about 40,000 years, Odd Man.”

“Exactly. Even that would be too soon, don’t you think?”

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