Category Archives: Op-Eds

AOC Unmasks the Ruling Class

US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) laughs at some of the people she's fooled into believing she's "working class." Public domain.
US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) laughs at some of the people she’s fooled into believing she’s “working class.” Public domain.

“Working class Bronx native”  served US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) well as “elect me” schtick in 2018.

It wasn’t true — Ocasio-Cortez is an architect’s daughter who grew up in the tony suburb of Yorktown Heights (median family income of $137,580 versus the US median family income of $68,703), attended Boston University, and interned for US Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) before putting together her “just your average waitress” PR package — but it got the political job done.

AOC continues to  lean on that carefully polished mythology, most recently at the annual Met Gala, where she introduced herself and the designer of her “Tax the Rich” gown as “two working class women.”

I’ve not heard anyone explain how a “working class” gal like AOC afforded the $35,000 ticket to the gala on her pittance of a congressional salary (only $174,000 per year; the ticket cost nearly as much as the US median personal income, $35,977). Unless she manages her money very well, it seems likely that someone gave her the ticket, which makes me wonder what kind of political favors such a large bribe might be intended to buy.

I have to wonder how much money the real working class stiffs — wait staff, doormen, chauffeurs, etc. — lurking in the corners of the Met Gala’s celebrity footage earn per  year.  I bet that number falls closer to US median than AOC median.

I also have to wonder what those working class stiffs look like. They were required to wear masks while catering to the needs of AOC and her fellow ruling class party attendees as they hammed it up for the cameras, bare-faced so we could admire their pearly whites and hear the bon mots that they deigned to speak rather than air-brush onto their costumes.

The masked and anonymous serving staff included one poor guy filmed trotting along behind AOC like some European monarch’s valet, holding up the train of her designer gown to keep it from touching the ground.

Marie Antoinette supposedly never uttered the phrase “let them eat cake,” or displayed the lack of awareness of or compassion for working class conditions associated with that phrase. Is her unfortunate image as manufactured and mythological as AOC’s “working class” pretensions?

While her “Tax the Rich” gown certainly attracted attention, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez would  have been more on point with a slogan from George Orwell’s Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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“It Can’t Happen Here,” Down Under Edition

Food court at Adelaide mall during COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by clinkey70. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
Food court at Adelaide mall during COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by clinkey70. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Clever tweets tend to morph in content and meaning over time. I don’t know where this one originated, and I’ve edited it to taste as people will do with such things, but I’m sure you’ll get where it’s going:

“It’s just 15 days to flatten the curve. It’s just a mask. It’s just six feet. It’s just no large gatherings. It’s just preventing ‘misinformation.’ It’s just a shot. It’s just a mandate. It’s just showing your vaccine passport on demand …”

Naturally, anyone who objected at any waypoint on that trail, or predicted the next waypoint, was roundly decried in American mainstream media as a whackjob. It was always going to be “this far and no further,” and only  “conspiracy theorists” would believe otherwise.

When I see stuff like those tweets, my first mental go-to is Martin Niemoller (“First they came for …”).

My second is Sinclair Lewis (“It Can’t Happen Here”).

And my third is Australia.

Less than two years ago, Australia could be plausibly described as a “western liberal democracy.”

Today, Australia’s regime is doing its best to show up Joseph Stalin and Kim Jong-Un as amateurs. And succeeding.

In parts of Australia, you’re allowed a luxurious one hour per day outdoors, to exercise, alone. But be sure to keep your papers on you for presentation on demand, and even then prepare for harassment by the police and armed forces, including helicopter patrols (yes, really).

If you’re a traveler allowed to return and ordered to quarantine, don’t forget to download the government’s smart phone surveillance app, which texts you at random intervals and gives you 15 minutes to respond with a selfie proving you’re where you’ve been ordered to cell in. Otherwise, police will be dispatched to track you down.

All is not lost for our Aussie friends, though. If they’re lonely, they can “nominate” one (ONLY one) friend, or romantic or sexual partner, with whom to form a “single social bubble.” If the regime approves their application, they’re graciously permitted to spend alone time with their “bonk bubble buddy.” But they must choose carefully — no backsies! They’re stuck with their choice for the duration of the “emergency.”

Am I a whackjob conspiracy theorist for worrying that America, having set its feet on that same path, may continue down the road toward “Make America East Germany Again?”

Well, maybe. But these days, I’d rather be a whackjob conspiracy theorist than an Australian.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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Words Mean Things, and the “Treason” Talk is Tiresome

What is sabotage^ Sabotage is treason^ - NARA - 535191

Since about the time that Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, the word “treason” has become one of the most over-used — and more importantly MIS-used — words in the English language.

Not just by his opponents, who broke out the t-word every time they tried to blame Hillary Clinton’s loss on alleged collusion with THEM RUSSIANS!, but by Trump himself when, for example, an anonymous op-ed writer asserted that “adults in the room” were working to keep him from looking stupid.

Trump’s leveling his latest (provisional — “if the story … is true”) “treason” accusation against General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

What did Milley do? If the reportage of Bob Woodward and Robert Costa is correct in their new book, Peril, he made two phone calls — one right after the 2020 presidential election, one right after the January 6 Capitol riot — to his Chinese counterpart, General Li Zuocheng, to reassure Li that the US wasn’t about to launch a surprise attack on China.

I like words. Words are useful, because they mean things. When I say I want a banana, I’m asking for a piece of fruit rather than for, say, a Tesla Model 3 or tickets to the Allman Family Revival show in Sarasota. That’s handy. It keeps me from ending up with too many Teslas and concert tickets.

When it comes to the word “treason,” we have a clear and unambiguous definition, right there in  Article III of the US Constitution:

“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

Article I, Section 8 is also helpful here: It reserves the power to declare war exclusively to Congress. If Congress hasn’t declared war, there’s no “enemy” to give aid or comfort to, and any presidential order for a surprise attack on China would be illegal.

If Woodward and Costa’s account is to be believed, all Milley did was tell a foreign general that the US armed forces could be trusted to follow US law.

That sounds like a good thing, especially when there’s a loose cannon in the White House who isn’t very attentive to laws limiting his authority (which is pretty much all the time).

It certainly doesn’t sound like “treason,” to anyone with a basic grasp of the English language and a commitment to honesty. Unfortunately, that seems to be a shrinking demographic.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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