Lessons from the “Tucker Carlson Just Made It Up And I Repeated It Act of 20-never”

By Mabel Doge Luhan

Troy Torso always celebrates the winners in the news. I, on the other side, am A HYPERELDERLY WRETCH, so I want their names when they lose! Just call me Deacon Blues!

Warming us up in the Lose column today is the Saipan Tribune, with its April 22 article, “IPI files for Chapter 11.” Kimberly B. Esmores tells us, while apparently neither injecting magic mushrooms nor auditioning for The Onion, that:

“As part of its reorganization plan, IPI will focus on enhancing operational efficiencies, optimizing its gaming offerings, and implementing robust measures to ensure the health and safety of its patrons and employees.”

This is in a “news” story. And no, Ms. Esmores was not quoting anyone. That was her own assessment of the situation. I wonder how she would’ve covered Enron. Or the Hindenburg.

And that was even after she’d called the amount IPI owed “whopping.”

Have any of you “reporters” ever read a real newspaper? No seriously, even once, have you? Like maybe just out of curiosity lying awake late one night you just once wondered what the hell happens with all those words you type? Oh, right. I said “curiosity.” Never mind then. And there’s no way you have ever read a newspaper, because no newspaper writes like you.

Let’s award our second L to the Salty Tan Man himself, Zaldy Dandan of the Marianas Variety!

Unlike Kimberly Esmores, Zaldy Dandan can write his way out of a can. And I, as an opinion columnist with a jones for self-indulgent columns about Virginia Woolf and Modest Mouse that nobody understands, should be the last to criticize the contents of an opinion column. But the amount of sheer pseudohistorical right-wing bullshit fairytales splooging from every open sore of a word in Zaldy Dandan’s “Variations” column purportedly about Russell Baker—

The column’s big screaming climax is in the words “And it wasn’t a federal grant.” Meaning that supposedly, this real DIY bootstrapping American, Russell Baker, didn’t rely on the federal government, unlike us pansy wansies who subsist on federal grants, eat vegetables, and don’t love the Fuhrer. It may have perhaps been a salvo against Governor Palacios preferring DC to Beijing.

Forget that one person’s story doesn’t prove anything, or that a masturbatory autobiography isn’t reliable history. Forget even the logical fallacy in the implication that because something didn’t exist in the past, it’s preferable to do without it.

No. Let’s talk about the most wrong thing here: Zaldy’s claim that in 1942, there were no federal grants. As opposed to, Zaldy writes, “Today, you get free (federally funded) training in whatever your ‘passion’ is.”

Hilariously, as anyone who doesn’t get their history from Truth Social could tell you, social spending was much higher (as fraction of GDP) in 1942 than it is today. Has Zaldy ever heard of obscure historical events like the New Deal? And the Works Project Administration and later War Manpower Commission? Or the Great Society programs? The Social Security Act of 1935? Aid to Families With Dependent Children Act of 1935? Ever heard of any of that, Zaldy? 1942’s welfare state was generally more generous than the pared down welfare state we have today.

And those taxes that Zaldy probably thinks didn’t exist back then, when a man was a man and Herr Hitler stood tall? In 1944, US federal income tax rates topped out at 94%. Yes, that’s 94% federal income tax. To be fair, when Russell Baker started college in 1942, the highest income tax rate was only 81%.

Certainly there are valid arguments for reducing income tax rates. But “low income taxes produced American postwar prosperity” isn’t one of them.

And as for that nansy-pansy free vocational training Zaldy so loathes? His favorite Austrian landscape painter supported free vocational training, Herr Zaldy might want to recall. Anyway, in the manly 1942 America that Zaldy thinks was blissfully free of free training — the Smith-Hughes Act, establishing free federal vocational training, had passed 25 years earlier, in 1917. Before Russell Baker was even born. Good old Russell Baker was a product of and testament to, not a contrast to, a welfare system.

But the most ridiculous part of Zaldy’s story is the idea that a college scholarship is the opposite of a federal grant. Does Zaldy have any inkling of where most college scholarship money comes from? It’s not from the marihuana farm behind Kappa Kappa Delta, even though that would be just simply bitching! No, college scholarships come primarily from federal grants. Obviously. I mean, a high school student could tell you that, but here we are, Mister Editor.


How could anybody think that Russell Baker, born into the New Deal, coddled in government public schools, securing a government scholarship to a government-funded university, then joining the military — is somehow a story of not relying on the government?! Oh, right: it’s because Russell Baker is white and, shall we say, no longer sprightly. If Russell were Gen Z and black or brown, Zaldy would mock him as a welfare leech pansy. (And Russell studied English literature at an elite university! That on its own is enough to enrage Zaldy most days.)

Then there’s this absurdist, alternative-history fever dream of Zaldy’s, which for some reason he thinks is relevant to include: “…and the law requires employers to hire you regardless of your experience, competence or even willingness to show up for work — as long as you ‘qualify based on the criteria drawn up by pandering politicians….”

Zaldy apparently thinks this a law, the law, in the United States of America, today. Apparently, despite appearances to the contrary, it’s not in an alternative history or a movie he’s describing. And unlike me, Zaldy writes sober!

So which law is it? Tell us, Zaldy. Which law forces employers to hire someone regardless of their experience, competence, or willingness to show up to work? Was it the Tucker Carlson Just Made It Up And I Repeated It Act of 20-never?

As a newspaper editor, Zaldy must surely be sensitive to the facts, and an expert on law!

Jokes aside, Zaldy’s Variations column about Russell Baker was a massive LOSE not because of its right-wing Horatio Alger lean. I can enjoy a column no matter what the lean, and I have chugged lean even with West-Coast rappers. I’m so open-minded that I have my bibliothecary read me the Whig pennyscribblers!

No, Zaldy Dandan’s column loses because it so badly misunderstands — or perhaps misrepresents — American history, all in the stubborn service of a right-wing fantasy.

Just as Kimberly Esmores’s article loses because it sounds like an over-the-top advertisement, but it’s presented as an objective news article.

I wish Saipan’s newspapers would learn: your customer and ultimate authority is the reading public, not the business or ideology that’s offering you flattery or cash to make them look good. Well, but that’s like teaching falcons the ukulele!


Mabel Doge Luhan is a woman of loose morals. She resides in Kagman V, where she pursues her passions of crocheting, beatboxing, and falconry.


  • I am pretty sure that once Zaldy sees your diatribe it will soon be behind him, serving a less odorous purpose.

  • Mabel, what do you gain out of this bs. If it really bothers you that much, stop reading it. I would appreciate if you were finding lies on their story, but you must allow these poor folks to move on. Remember, no one is perfect not even you. Sure, you may be smarter than everyone but leave it at that. Enough already. Have a nice weekend!

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