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Dandelion Whine: Right-wing media try and fail to generate a controversy over Biden’s weed picking

During the Obama administration — if you can remember that far back — the right-wing press got pretty good at generating controversies out of nothing — collectively clutching their pearls when, say, Obama allegedly dishonored the White House by wearing a tan suit. And them there was the time he ordered spicy mustard for his hamburger, like some kind of fancy-pants snob.

With another Democrat in the White House, you might expect the right-wing press to be pulling phony controversies out of thin air on a regular basis. And, to be fair, they’ve been trying to. But they’re clearly out of practice and so most of their recent attempts have failed big time.

Last week, they tried to get the crowd worked up over Biden’s plan to restrict the average American’s consumption of red meat to only 4 pounds a year — only to discover that Biden had no such plan; they’d been had by a British tabloid’s misleading story.

The right-wing press also tried to get Americans up in arms about the government allegedly sending copies of a kids’ book by Kamela Harris to children stuck in our border camps. Never mind that the govcernment never did any such thing; it turns out that some random person had donated one copy of the book to the kids in a humanitarian drive.

Now the right-wingers are trying to generate some sort of controversy over a strange but utterly insignificant gesture on Joe BIden’s part. Last Thursday, while walking to the Marine One helicopter on the White House laws, Biden spied a dandelion in its seedy phase, then picked it and gave it to his wife.

Now, I don’t know why he picked a weed to give to Jill. It’s a somewhat strange thing to do. But hey, at least the two of them actually seem to enjoy one another’s presence — in stark contrast to the previous First Couple. I doubt Trump would even bother to pick up a wad of dirt to give to Melania.

Is there any logic to Biden’s gesture? Mediaite points out that

[t]here is a folk belief that blowing on a dandelion can grant wishes, but there is little scientific evidence to back this up.

So maybe Biden was trying, in a not-altogether-serious manner, to wish Jill good luck. Or perhaps there was some other private joke between the two of them. Who knows, and more to the point, who cares?

Well, one person who cares is Newsmax host Grant Stinchfield, who had a bit of a tantrum after seeing the footage, declaring

Joe Biden today getting on Marine One and he stops and picks up, I think it’s a dandelion, but it’s a dandelion that hasn’t even blossomed into a flower yet, like that gives everybody asthma. So you blow it, it goes everywhere, and everybody starts sneezing.

Well he picks up the weed and gives it to Jill, that’s, what, I guess is supposed to be some kind of a sweet gesture. … I say it was a planted dandelion there, who knows?

Is he really suggesting that someone literally planted the dandelion there on the White House lawn so that Biden could see it, pick it, give it to Jill, and then reap sweet praises in the press for such an, er, romantic gesture? Maybe.

But he’s definitely not the only right-wing personality who thought something weird and devious was going on. On Fox News, Mediaite reports,

Laura Ingraham and Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo spent several minutes mocking Biden, snarking that the president had given his wife a “weed” (a common theme among critics), comparing him to Frankenstein’s monster, and decrying the positive coverage that the gesture received.

“It was a sweet gesture, Laura, even if it was a weed, maybe the poor man didn’t know ,” Arroyo said, then joked “Look, at least you didn’t try to pick a lemon off of Jill’s dress, so this is a good thing.”

Fox News host Tammy Bruce, meanwhile, was moved to incoherence by Biden’s little gesture, complaining that the dandelion-picking moment

made the news. That was like the news. This is what we’re dealing with.

[mocking voice] He romantically gave his wife a dandelion.

It’s as though they want us to go into a coma, or do they believe we are infants and we can’t, we don’t know what’s going on, and look, I think it’s nice that when a man picks up a flower in some fashion and gives it to his wife, but he’s the president of the United states, it’s not the news,

We’ve got Covid, we’ve got a border that’s open, we’ve got big enemies looking at us and trying to figure out how to destroy us, and this is the news?

This would be a searing indictment of the triviality of so much political news coverage in the mainstream press — except that the only people talking about it are on Fox News, Newsmax, and, oh, did I forget LewRockwell.com?

“Have You Ever Given or Received a Bouquet of Dandelion Weeds?,” asked writer Thomas DiLorenzo.

I’ve never heard of it; have never seen dandelion “flowers” for sale at any florist or at the section of the grocery store where they sell flowers, or anywhere else. I tried to buy some on Flowers.com but with no success. That’s because it’s kind of like giving someone a bouquet of poison ivy or sneeze-inducing ragweed. It’s cute when a five-year-old child picks a “bouquet” of dandelion weeds for his mom, but creepy and demented when an 80 year-old-man does it. Especially if he’s the man who has his finger on the nuclear button.

But the media are portraying Senile Joe’s asinine picking of a dandelion weed for his wife as some kind of Romeo-and-Juliet moment. Dumb-Ass Americanus is said to be “swooning” all over twitter over it. Jill Biden has that “what an asshole” look on her face in the photos of the event on the internet.

Again, the only people paying attention to the dandelion moment are the right-wingers.

And even they are having trouble caring about it. I looked through Pariots.win — the Reddit-like discussion forum that emerged from the now-banned The_Donald subreddit — to see if I could find anyone reacting to the dreaded dandelion thing. I found only a handful of commenters with anything to say.

There was someone called Crucial8GB who declared

Biden has Dementia. The Democrat Party should be charged with elderly abuse.

There was Tobyrocky accusing the Dems of something like child abuse:

Typical mind of a 5 year old. They give their mom’s dandelions too.

And then there was orrvarpen, who spouted this bit of nonsense that I’m not going to even try to decipher.

Looks like a white rubber duck. And sleepy Joe has gotten gills, did he fall into the deep and cold water of well force one again?

I don’t think “Dandelion-picking Joe” is going to supplant “Sleepy Joe” as a term of opprobrium on the right. But it’s not for lack of trying.

We should expect the next phony controversy to pop up within a few days now. Let’s hope it suffers the same fate as “Joe BIden Picks a Dandelion.”

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Prophet309
Prophet309
9 days ago

I’ve emailed the Dark Lord. (Do people still call David that?)

Citerior Motive
Citerior Motive
9 days ago

Does anyone else find the use of the word ‘planted’ in reference to a plant utterly hilarious?

Alan Robertshaw
9 days ago

@ full metal ox

“Are you sure this will work?”

“Yeah. Once we’re inside the White House, you go grab the nuclear codes. Then we show that cat why not to mess with us.”

Also….

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Dalillama
9 days ago

@Annoying Jackass
Did you miss the part where I don’t care? Shut up and go away already.

Victorious Parasol
Victorious Parasol
9 days ago
Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
9 days ago

@Big Titty Demon:
Ahhhh, Redwall. You could certainly tell that Brian Jacques was something of a ‘foodie’. Just don’t read too many in short order, because they do get repetitive.

Lumipuna
Lumipuna
8 days ago

More praise for the humble dandelion:

http://twitter.com/ReziaWahidWeave/status/1389578974817394691

“It’s not a weed but a a perennial herb”

*sniggers in university botany minor*

Full Metal Ox
8 days ago

@Jenora Feuer:
@Big Titty Demon:

Ahhhh, Redwall. You could certainly tell that Brian Jacques was something of a ‘foodie’. Just don’t read too many in short order, because they do get repetitive.

I suspect Redwall of having been the inspiration of an infamous passage in The Spirit Morph Saga, a YA novel series roughly equivalent to His Dark Materials in Steven Universe; apparently the description of Lisa and Archimicarus’ wedding cake ran for fifty pages. I can actually imagine a Watsonian reason: perhaps the cake was decorated with a pictorial recap of Lisa and Archimicarus’s adventures?

.45
.45
8 days ago

I really liked Redwall as a kid, though repetitive is… not an inaccurate description. (And looking back there is the somewhat racist reading on how most species tend to follow certain stereotypes, with any deviations being conspicuous and noteworthy.)

I think my favorite was Marlfox. Mostly because I was getting tired of every bad guy being a craven coward whenever challenged and although they didn’t always cover themselves in glory, I felt the Marlfoxes put in a better showing than many other Redwall villains.

I remember a courtyard fight scene where one of the Foxes was cornered, and rather than cower in fear, he went right at his opposing number like the hardened warrior he was supposed to be.

GSS ex-noob
GSS ex-noob
8 days ago

@Alan! You have measurably improved my day. That picture is so cute I cannot look, yet I can’t look away. It got a smile out of my husband, too, sans context, because it needs none.

Big Titty Demon
Big Titty Demon
8 days ago

The mouse pictures are insufferably cute.

@Jenora

I tried about ten years ago to read my favorite set, which was Mariel of Redwall/Bellflower (A girl mouse! The best!), and I could not make it through. I should try again at some point because I remember trying to make the Dibbun barrel boat and all sorts of inspiration from those books. They were the height of literature when I was like 6 years old, but totally not readable later. I’m more patient now, though, so I should give it another shot for the memories.

Trifle not being a thing where I grew up, I was very excited to have a trifle for the first time this year though. It did live up to the hype from Redwall. 😀

Sheila Crosby
Sheila Crosby
8 days ago

My father defined a weed as “any plant growing where you don’t want it to.” He was a botanist, so he should know. The right wing press seem to define it as “Anything you didn’t pay for,” because money means a great deal to them.

I’m sure the tRumps would have given each other triffids.

Hambeast
Hambeast
7 days ago

re: allowing wild plants and “weeds” grow – My maternal grandfather farmed 20 acres in Iowa and the land he picked to buy had three acres of virgin prairie along the road front, which he saw as a huge boon. Once we inherited it in 1999, my aunt and I kept that acreage out of the farm auction and donated it to the county. There’s a plaque there now.

My mom used to tell me that whenever they had a cow with mastitis, he would take the calf off of her and turn her out on to that three acres for a few days so she could eat native medicinal plants. It worked at least 75% of the time; if it didn’t the cow was put out of her misery. Old German farmers in the 1930s never called the vet (or so I was told.)

Bookworm in hijab
Bookworm in hijab
7 days ago

Hambeast, that’s so cool! I wonder what specific plants were helpful?

Regarding the Redwall series, I never read it, but my sister did, and she set some of the poems/songs in them to tunes she made up, and sang them on hikes.

Redsilkphoenix: Jetpack Vixen, Intergalactic Meani
Redsilkphoenix: Jetpack Vixen, Intergalactic Meani
7 days ago

@Alan,

There’s also a movement in America to actively restore as much of the lost prairie lands as is feasible. In some cases reintroducing it alongside interstate roadways and at some interstate on/off ramp areas to both reduce the need to mow those areas over the summer and to have something prettier than regular grass to look at, at least once it gets established anyway.

https://www.americanprairie.org/

I don’t immediately recall if I ever posted a link about this here or not, but there’s also a movement among some naturalists here to do Pleistocene rewilding. The theory here is that North America’s ecosystem has been severely broken since roughly the time the first humans crossed the Bering Straight. The idea is to bring in the still-living cousins of the extinct animals to replace the ones lost and restore the ecosystem that way, though with some accommodations in certain cases. Like making sure any elephants brought in to replace the extinct mastodons have an indoor shelter to wait the winters out in. Stuff like that.

Here’s a local’s view on what some of the pros and cons of that might be for the West:

https://www.hcn.org/blogs/range/rants-from-the-hill-pleistocene-rewilding

As for what plants are considered weeds, and by whom, the local Department of Natural Resources considers daffodils as a weed, when they show up in the wild. Apparently they have been known to drive out local plant species that have more of a right to be there than the flowers do.

And for my contributions about dandelions, I’ve never quite understood why they’re so hated at times. They, alongside violets and beebalm (? I think that’s the name for a bumblebee flower) make a spring lawn look pretty. At least until the lawnmowers come through….

Also, am I the only who who’s ever noticed the ability of dandelions to ‘duck’ when a lawnmower goes over them, then pop back up hours after the mower is gone to spread seeds all over the place? Seriously, there’s been a few times I’ve noticed a freshly mown lawn that suddenly had a few stray dandelions just pop up like the mower blades just didn’t touch them at all. It’s weird.

Robert Baden
Robert Baden
7 days ago

Regarding milkweed being poisonous: Guess why Monarch butterflies are bright orange, and Viceroy butterflies mimic Monarchs

Full Metal Ox
7 days ago

Because I like mice, and because I can: have some more harvest mice.

This one’s availing herself of another wildflower with military symbolism; I wonder if they seek out poppy seeds for the narcotic properties?

http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2017/06/20/23/4192FAFE00000578-0-image-m-9_1497996004779.jpg

Mere wild roses might be a bit déclassé, but this satisfied diner, if they make it to autumn, will be coming back for the fruit:

http://i.pinimg.com/474x/23/31/ae/2331ae2db84ff7a38869733dcd93c1d3.jpg

(Which now cues an earworm: I’ve been given to understand that on the right side of the pond, “Where the Wild Roses Grow”, as a lavishly-orchestrated old-timey waltz, is a popular wedding reception song among people who evidently don’t realize that the plot is Boy Meets Girl; Boy Reflects Upon The Sad Transience of Beauty; Boy Bashes Girl’s Skull In With A Rock; Girl Floats Prettily Downstream Ostensing John William Waterhouse’s “Ophelia.”)

What’s a mushroom for if not a mouse stool?

http://i.pinimg.com/474x/50/1a/ab/501aabe66a4c034ca83933dbcb15bc9f.jpg

Full Metal Ox
7 days ago

@Hambeast:

My mom used to tell me that whenever they had a cow with mastitis, he would take the calf off of her and turn her out on to that three acres for a few days so she could eat native medicinal plants. It worked at least 75% of the time; if it didn’t the cow was put out of her misery. Old German farmers in the 1930s never called the vet (or so I was told.)

@Bookworm in hijab:

Hambeast, that’s so cool! I wonder what specific plants were helpful?

Here’s a list of Iowa indigenous plants; I’m not as familiar with their effects as with those of naturalized Old World herbs—let alone their effect on cows—but here you go: http://uipress.lib.uiowa.edu/ppi/common.php

The alliums might have a disinfectant effect (and the milk is already tainted anyway; roses would supply vitamin C.)

Hambeast
Hambeast
7 days ago

Bookworm in hijab – I’ve read that wild garlic is one of the things but I don’t know if mid western US prairie land has that. But that was the beauty part – farmers didn’t have to know what exactly the cows were attracted to because they would find it themselves.

When I was five, my family was in Iowa visiting and the prairie was in full bloom and was just spectacular with orange, yellow, white and pink flowers. There were so many bees there, the buzzing was audible way up at the house, about a quarter mile away! My grandma said it wasn’t that way every year, but it sure was memorable.

Moggie
Moggie
7 days ago

@Full Metal Ox:

(Which now cues an earworm: I’ve been given to understand that on the right side of the pond, “Where the Wild Roses Grow”, as a lavishly-orchestrated old-timey waltz, is a popular wedding reception song among people who evidently don’t realize that the plot is Boy Meets Girl; Boy Reflects Upon The Sad Transience of Beauty; Boy Bashes Girl’s Skull In With A Rock; Girl Floats Prettily Downstream Ostensing John William Waterhouse’s “Ophelia.”)

Only among people who are not familiar with Nick Cave or Kylie.

Bookworm in hijab
Bookworm in hijab
7 days ago

When I was five, my family was in Iowa visiting and the prairie was in full bloom and was just spectacular with orange, yellow, white and pink flowers. There were so many bees there, the buzzing was audible way up at the house, about a quarter mile away! My grandma said it wasn’t that way every year, but it sure was memorable.

Bliss. It’s miserably cold and rainy where I am, so I’m enjoying picturing this scene. 😊

Dalillama
7 days ago

@Moggie

Only among people who are not familiar with Nick Cave or Kylie.

Very unfamiliar indeed; it’s literally from an album called Murder Ballads

GSS ex-noob
GSS ex-noob
6 days ago

Thank you for all the mousies.

Alan Robertshaw
5 days ago

@ Redsilkphoenix

Thanks for those links. That was really interesting reading.

I’m not sure how viable Pleistocene Park is; but it raises some fascinating thoughts.

Re-wilding is a passion of mine. I get a lot of reassurance on my walks. I do a lot of the old mining trails. Now they just cut through what appears to be unspoilt countryside. But I know the history of these places. Less than 200 years ago they were hotbeds of industrial activity. One old mine I like used to employ 50,000 people. Now it looks like this.

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Last edited 5 days ago by Alan Robertshaw
Bookworm in hijab
Bookworm in hijab
5 days ago

Alan, did you ever read a book called ‘The World Without Us’? It’s a pretty interesting look at how quickly nature would reclaim human-created landscapes in the event that we all disappeared (the author’s jokey take on that, iirc, was something like “if our alien ancestors beamed us all back to our alien planet” — so not the disappearance of humans due to anything cataclysmic, as that would obviously affect how nature would reclaim our structures). Anyways, your image of the abandoned mine reminded me of it.

Alan Robertshaw
5 days ago

Bit of trivia.

They’ve recently found out that the gold (and some of the tin and copper) in the Nebra Sky Disk came from that very mine. Shows how long it’s been in operation. The scruffy bit in the bottom is a Tailings Lagoon from a mine that was operating into the 1980s. They were producing arsenic; hence the dearth of plants. Still, some life prevails.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1475-4754.2010.00515.x

ETA: @ Bookworm in Hijab

Oh yes; I love that book. And that genre generally. Don’t get me wrong; I like people and us being around! But I do like how nature always fights back. I find myself smiling when shoots come up through tarmac. Like “Yeah, you show us plant.”

Last edited 5 days ago by Alan Robertshaw
Bookworm in hijab
Bookworm in hijab
5 days ago

Alan, that makes me think of a patch I had on a jean jacket (many years ago) that was a dandelion growing through concrete…but on closer inspection the dandelion was a clenched fist, and the slogan was “resistance is fertile”. 😄

A friend of mine did a Master’s degree in biology, and while I don’t remember all the details (not a scientist, me), I know her research focused on using wetland plants such as willows to rehabilitate polluted land. Fascinating stuff.

Alan Robertshaw
5 days ago

@ bookworm in hijab

using wetland plants such as willows to rehabilitate polluted land.

That’s exactly what they’re doing.

Bit of history. There’s a massive undergoing drainage system in the area. It takes all the water from the mines into the Carnon River and then into the sea. See here for more details.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_County_Adit

The run-off water though is still full of heavy metal pollutants. You can actually see that in the water. There’s a lot of rivers round here whose name translates as ‘red river’; and they very much are.

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But now they have installed all sorts of plants along the Carnon that absorb the pollutants; and created a number of pools along the way. It seems to be working. And the riverside is now chokka with wildlife. It’s one of my favourite regular walks. You can walk from the north to south coast along what were old tramways and railways; and the southern bit follows the river.

More here on the clean-up operation.

https://mine.nridigital.com/mine_sep19/heavy_metal_the_fight_to_cleanse_cornwall_s_polluted_rivers

You can see the before and after bits.

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Of course now that things like cadmium and lithium are very valuable; there’s all sorts of schemes to extract the metals from the sediment.

Ohlmann
Ohlmann
5 days ago

@Alan : in addition to the economic value, there’s also the fact that regular cadnium and lithium sources tend to involve warlords, child labor, slavery, genocide, or all four. It would be sad to destroy the vistas you share to extract cadnium, but that might still be the moral thing to do.

Redsilkphoenix: Jetpack Vixen, Intergalactic Meani
Redsilkphoenix: Jetpack Vixen, Intergalactic Meani
5 days ago

@Alan,

I’m not sure how viable Pleistocene Park is; but it raises some fascinating thoughts.

You’ll have to ask the Russians about that. 😀

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Pleistocene+Park,+Sakha+Republic,+Russia,+678830/@68.5132223,161.5060425,14z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x5a25ace1aea03bdf:0x18758dcae1b31239?hl=en-us

The original paper I read about the Rewilding (that seems to no longer be online?) did mention some restrictions that would likely have to be implemented in order to accommodate the humans already living in the area(s), like having the reintroduced cheetahs having to stay on ranches to do their hunting. And apparently there’s several places outside the US wanting to do their own Pleistocene rewildings, so there’s a fair bit of interest in that idea overall.

Though given recent advances in extracting DNA from ancient bones, it could be possible to recreate the original animals using their near-kin to create hybrids. Or to just incubate the recreated babies until grown enough to release into the wilds.

Alan Robertshaw
5 days ago

@ redsilkphoenix

like having the reintroduced cheetahs having to stay on ranches

I’m down with that!

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Ohlmann
Ohlmann
5 days ago

@redsilkphoenix : the DNA is probably not enough tho. While theses animals probably rely less than human on cultural transmission, I would say the DNA trick would more create a new somewhat similar specie than actually the original one.

While the intent is noble, I find theses talks of pleistocene parks more than a bit presumptuous. It’s relying on partial informations and recollection from clue to try to create again a biome that failed. Chance of success seem quite low to me.

And while we think it’s human the main cause of their disappearance, there’s probably a ton of other factors of various importance. Not to mention that the current biome isn’t by default any less interesting or worthy than the old one.

Dalillama
3 days ago

Avocados are a relic of that Pleistocene ecosystem. They have huge seeds that no extant herbivores spread, and would’ve been extinct millennia ago if humans hadn’t desperately needed a reliable source of fats and protein after having eaten all the large herbivores that used to spread them. The infamous “cocaine hippos” in Colombia are apparently taking up part of the ecological load the ground sloths used to. Which is just as well, since there’s probably no getting rid of them at this point.

Alan Robertshaw
3 days ago

@ dali

and would’ve been extinct millennia ago

So millennials would have had houses now?

Doesn’t avocado mean dangly trouser parts orginally? Of course, here they still get called avacodo pears; which obviously, they aren’t.

But that was interesting about how they now propagate. They have a life size model of a ground sloth at the Natural History Museum. They were massive!

Last edited 3 days ago by Alan Robertshaw
GSS ex-noob
GSS ex-noob
3 days ago

I like avocados (and they grow near here, so no worries about air miles) and I can’t say as I’m upset there aren’t giant ground sloths roaming around spreading them. I daresay the pronghorns are happy the cheetahs became extinct. A herd of them thundering alongside your car (and sometimes passing you!) is pretty amazing.

I am not a millennial, yet I eat avocado toast regularly. Discuss.

@Alan: yes, the Nahuatl word refers to both the fruit and the gentleman’s tackle.

Maybe people who want to bring cheetahs back to America could get sponsorship money from Cheetos?