Life-changing events rarely announce themselves in the moment, particularly at young ages. There was no way of knowing when, as a child, I went to the local drug store with my allowance to buy the latest comic books and movie magazines that my eye would catch on something I’d never seen before.
It was the new issue of Mad, with caricatures of Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty as Bonnie and Clyde on the cover. Their movie was a bit adult for a child my age, but I had managed to see it more than once. I was mad for it. The cover was highlighting a movie parody about Balmy and Clod inside, which would prove my first taste of satire.
Also on the cover, wedged between the two principal outlaws, was a third caricature seemingly based on the composite character of C. W. Moss played by Michael J. Pollard in the movie. But it was not really Mr. Pollard—it was Alfred E. Neuman. The “What, me worry?” kid was about to enter my consciousness, where he remains to this day.
Not that I’ve been worry-free. Who has? But sometimes, in the midst of situations where we have little to no power or influence, it makes life easier and sometimes more fun to simply repeat those three little words to oneself. For those whose real lives are going well enough to have the luxury to worry about such things, what’s the point anyway? I mean, really, why bother?
Kevin McCarthy is the new speaker of the House, after a punishing 15 rounds of balloting. For pity’s sake, Janis Ian and I managed to get picked for basketball teams in junior high school with less resistance. He finally got to accept the gavel, waving it in the air for good measure and testing it out with a couple of bangs to see if it works. That last part remains to be seen.
McCarthy was wearing a toothy grin during all of this that I knew I had seen somewhere in the movies. It took me a minute, but it finally came to me. He looked like Tommy Ross, standing beside Carrie White, smiling beatifically in the moments before the bucket, emptied of the pig’s blood, hits him in the head.
The first order of business in the new house was the passing of the Family and Small Business Taxpayer Protection Act, whose name alone is enough to make me blow my coffee through my nose. I understand that no one really likes to pay taxes, but I believe as Daddy did that paying your federal taxes is the membership fee to be an American so pay what you owe and move on. I get irritated with the “tax relief” commercials one sees regularly on television, providing help to people who didn’t pay their taxes and are in trouble with the IRS. Bless their hearts.
I could go on a rant about tax cheats and the lack of auditing resources to bring those folks in line or how clearly this bill would benefit those making the most money and paying less in taxes than they should in what has amounted to an honor system for years. The insult to the intelligence of Americans in general and Republican voters in particular in thinking that calling it one thing while it does another is galling. But Alfred whispers in my ear reminding me that this bill will never be passed into law. So what, me worry?
The same approach can be taken with threats to cut Social Security and Medicare spending, abortion rights, and even the investigation into the “Biden family syndicate,” as Sean Hannity has dubbed it. The first two will surely hit the wall of Democrats in the Senate, and as for the latter, well, it seems to me casting Joe Biden as a capo is as silly as expecting to see Donald Trump on To Tell the Truth.
The only thing I’m a bit worried about—calm down, Alfred—is whether or not George Santos is going to be able to hang on long enough to do his noble duty to represent the voters who put him in office, regardless of how duped they have been.
Santos, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Jon Lovitz, is the obvious comic relief this situation needs. I don’t care that as a freshman he shouldn’t get the best committee assignments. But don’t many of us want to see him right there on television with his colleagues asking questions at congressional hearings? Imagine the tingly tension of wondering what whopper he might tell next. I, for one, want to keep him there until he fulfills his duty or until he says on camera, “Yeah, that’s the ticket!”
In a political world where deceiving, misleading, double-dealing, and downright lying have become the norm, why pick on Santos? I can imagine what Jesus would say. “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
Things have reached a pretty pass when I’m quoting scripture, and gendered scripture at that. There it is. But what, me worry?