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The Congressional Rip Cord



“Just as Mrs. Phelps, in Sidney Howard’s 1926 The Silver Cord, destroys the relationship between her younger son and his fiancee, Congress (among other things) destroys the relationship between democracy and justice. And just as the older son in that play has to go abroad to begin a healthy relationship, we are going to have to cut our traditional ties which bind us to Congress, which serve as a diseased umbilical cord with Congress.”

— The author’s radical Theatre professor, Lester Moore of Rutgers University, in notes from speeches given on the campus of Teachers College, Columbia University, N.Y.C., 1968.

Jay Leno, whose Late Show entertains millions five nights a week, has a Jay Walking segment which –after a fashion that’s typical of today’s television, highlighting humiliation– stops people on the street to ask them simple grade school Qs like “Where is Washington, D.C.?” or “Who was President at the time of the Emancipation Proclamation?” that are designed to make his audience feel superior.

As viewers bathe in their smarts relative to the Trailer Trash Mentality on display, Jay knowingly snickers, giving hints at times that help the educationally challenged … not at all for most (“He had a beard and wore a stovepipe hat!”), and pumps himself up as … Smarter Than Thou.

Not just a collector of classic cars with a Big Chin, that #1 American TV Host –inheritor of Johnny Carson’s mantle– knows how to locate Iraq on a map!

Well, I took a poll of an even one hundred people at random recently, and each one –without exception– noted that the Late Show Jay Walking segment revealed how little the public knows about Social Studies subjects. No one –absolutely, not a soul– pointed out that even when respondents answered correctly … it meant very little. That the whole exercise was centered on trivia. Like most spot quizzes in school.

In the spirit of counteracting that false Leno bravado, which compounds ignorance with ignorance by emphasizing the inconsequential, I offer up the following test for J-Bird and those of his species. And –to make things as easy as possible– we’ll limit it to a simple Yes or No below:

1A. Has any member of Congress recently brought up the subject of Halliburton selling materials used in building nuclear reactors to an Iranian oil development company as late as 2005? OR 1B. Has any member of Congress called attention to the fact that Iran’s President Ahmadinejad’s comment about destroying Israel (“Israel must be wiped off the map.”) was actually a misinterpretation?

2. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) of November 27, 2006 was passed by only six (out of 435) Congresspersons as a process bill which is non-controversial. Did more than one person oppose the bill which “will have a real and chilling effect on people’s constitutionally protected rights,” according to Dennis Kucinich?

3. Did Congress do everything it could do (or much at all) to prevent the S&L Scandal of the 80s (which we’re still paying for to the tune of $32 billion per year)?

4. Did Congress come close to doing everything it could have to lessen the number of deaths in Rwanda in the 90s?

5. Is there any public talk among Congresspersons about the serious indiscretions concerning Senator Diane Feinstein’s husband’s war profiteering in Iraq?

6. Did Congress ever make a move to force Japanese acknowledgement of The Rape of Nanking as it did vis-a-vis the Turkish Genocide of Armenians?

7. Have members of Congress kept the majority of their campaign promises this time around … or ever?

8. Recent temporary measures passed by the Congress required “a clear notification” for government video news releases (the dominant form of “fake news”), clearly defining what that means.

9. Has Congress ever –when push has come to shove– not supported a President’s war?

10. Let’s make this final question an easy one: Is Congress doing everything it can to impeach Bush and Cheney?

The answers? No*, I won’t provide them! No way** I’ll have anything to do with encouraging questions about the U.S. Congress.

*That’s a hint.
**That’s a hint too.

The author does encourage one and all to cut our shriveling umbilical cord with Congress, which keeps feeding us with that which does not nourish us. Keep the proverbial Apple Pie, but get rid that poor excuse of a Mom, Loyal Spouse of Papa Prez. The Whole Parental Unit, in fact.

Do not honor thy Father and Mother. Run away from what they call Home.

MARCELLE CENDRARS, Algerian-American freelancer residing in L.A., can be reached at




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