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.