Connect with us


If John Fetterman Can Wear Shorts, Why Not the Senate Pages? Suzy Weiss



The Spring 2012 Page Class posing with Mitch McConnell in their government-issued uniforms. (Courtesy of the author)

In the fall of 2012, when I was sixteen, a big, brown box arrived at my parents house. In it were four or five rough blue suits and half a dozen white button-down shirts. Because the material of the suits was made—and God knows how—out of recycled plastic bottles, a thick cardboard tag warned that should the fabric catch fire while worn, one should immediately remove it instead of trying to douse the flames, lest the fabric harden back up into plastic and meld to the skin. 

There was also a name tag in the box: “Senate Democratic Page Suzy Weiss.”

The suits would be my uniform for about five months, during the spring semester of the year that I spent on Capitol Hill as a page—a glorified messenger and water pourer—in the Senate chambers. 

The suits in the box weren’t the only mandated part of our look. We were expected to have a “neat, conservative hairstyle,” and if you were so uncouth as to have long hair, your hair tie had to be black. Shirts were to be buttoned to the neck. Prominent jewelry, face piercings, midriff-baring tops, spaghetti straps, and short skirts were verboten, even when we weren’t working. 

“Your child should understand the uniform is not about fashion; it is about being appropriately attired to work for the United States Senate,” an email to our parents read. Ms. Roach, the principal of the tiny boarding school we’d all be attending, also sent a helpful list of permissible shoes, but the more accurate term is hunks. Their descriptions, “Clarks Un Sound Black Leather” and “Skechers Work Caviar Black Waxy Victorian Leather” should give you a sense of why not a single legislator, nor anyone else, hit on me during my time in the nation’s capital.

The point was for all of us to look like mini versions of the elder statesmen we waited on. 

But this week, Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, announced a loosening of the Senate dress code. The new rules no longer require business attire, which for men means a suit and tie and for women means something equally formal. Now, if Amy Klobuchar wants to show up in a tube top, or Marco Rubio wants to take a pair of Crocs for a spin while voting on the debt ceiling, there’s nothing stopping them. 

All of these changes are meant to accommodate the junior senator of my home state, John Fetterman, who prefers hoodies and gym shorts—even at work. (I attended a wedding he officiated; he was in flip-flops.) Last week, he presided over the Senate Chamber in shorts and sneakers, looking for all the world like he got lost on the way to Chipotle. But look closely at the footage and you’ll see my fellow foot soldiers lined up on a step near the dais: a collection of pages in their uniforms, their white shirts still buttoned to the neck, their black shoes ever sexless. 

Pundits are declaring the dress code changes the end of order. Joe Manchin apparently told Fetterman that not wearing a suit “degrades” the chamber. Susan Collins has been more easygoing and said that she might show up to work in a bikini. Josh Hawley, a Republican, arrived in jeans. Elizabeth Warren thinks this is all a big distraction, but told a reporter she’s cool with the dress code change, “as long as people cover all the private parts.” Reader, I shuddered. 

The author, center right, with fellow pages and Angela Kinsey, who plays Angela on The Office, and who likewise dressed business professional at the Capitol. (Courtesy of the author)

It’s been more than a decade since I set foot in the hallowed chambers in my blue plastic suit and my black cotton socks (the only color of socks that was permitted). My view is that Fetterman looks ridiculous. But I mostly just hope they give the pages—currently still under codes a mullah would think are a little much—some leeway, too. 

I was there in 2012, long before committee hearings became the most exciting shows on TV. The idea that a QAnon Shaman would one day beat his shirtless chest on the dais of the chamber included multiple concepts that didn’t exist yet. It was also seven years before the Senate followed the House’s dress code changes and allowed for sleeveless tops and open-toed shoes, which I’m sure Ms. Roach viewed as the equivalent of turning the legislature into a Hooters. 

The Senate, I thought, for the most part, was a highly subsidized assisted living facility. Without aides gripping their elbows and opening doors, half the senators would walk straight into walls and keep walking. Still, Al Franken was especially nice and brought cookies his wife made for us and Dianne Feinstein gifted her page a beautiful silk scarf at the end of the term. John McCain once terrified a page by asking him for a full cup of vodka while on the Senate floor, as a joke. 

“Pages who understand that their role in the Senate is that of employees in positions of service will adjust most quickly,” wrote Roach, in that early email. As such, we didn’t think about what we looked like because we all looked very bad. But given the rules against ever leaving the dorm unchaperoned, consuming any illicit substances (or wearing t-shirts that promoted the consumption of illicit substances), hooking up, or really having any fun at all, we focused a lot on what we ate, which was a lot.   

At some point someone discovered that the ten-dollar per diem loaded onto the debit cards we were issued for lunch was really more of a suggestion. Nothing would happen if you went over the limit. So I started ordering egg and cheese croissant sandwiches from the small, subterranean commissary on my way up to the chamber every morning, and before long it showed. Tuesdays meant caucus lunches—aides hustled Republican and Democrat senators into big wood-paneled rooms to have lunch together. The chocolate cake that we helped ourselves to after the lawmakers filed out gave meaning to the phrase “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.” And the candy desk did not help. 

In short, I did not feel awesome in my plastic suit. But considering this was D.C., and the day-to-night pencil skirt was in, and everyone had two Blackberries crammed into their palms, there wasn’t much to look at by way of fashion. I remember clearly when Rhode Island’s Sheldon Whitehouse pointed to his black slip-on Puma sneakers and eagerly informed another lawmaker, “These are only ninety-nine dollars.” For those hoping that the change in dress code will translate to Capitol Hill hallways becoming something of a red carpet, I regret to inform you that Chico’s is considered elegant in that town. 

There was one shining sartorial light. And her name was Mary Elizabeth Taylor. Mary Elizabeth, the page minder on the Republican side’s cloakroom, brought it every damn day. Tweed skirt suits with gold buttons, black dresses and pumps, tailored red blazers. Even when she came into the Senate antechamber to yell at us for being too loud, we were in awe. It’s no wonder Twitter sustained a collective crush on Mary Elizabeth during the Gorsuch hearings. 

Not everyone can pull off a look like Mary Elizabeth. At least, not in real life. For that, thankfully, we have AI art, which in the past few days has given us the gift of Kyrsten Sinema looking like Mary Poppins, Ted Cruz rocking a Margaritaville look, and Rand Paul in nothing but a red robe. At least online, it’s Casual Friday forever. 

(via Twitter)

(via Twitter)

But if all of the rules are going out the window, at least throw the pages a bone and next semester, let them wear some brown socks. 

Suzy Weiss is a reporter at The Free Press. Her last feature was about traditional Catholic priests who are raging against the Pope. 

If you missed Kat Rosenfield’s piece on ‘Patriot Act’ comedian Hasan Minhaj’s emotional truths and real-life lies, you can read it here. 

And if you’re not already, become a Free Press subscriber today:  

Subscribe now


Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


May 27, 2024 Heather Cox Richardson




The White House hosted a three-day state visit for President William Ruto and First Lady Rachel Ruto of Kenya beginning on May 23, 2024. The visit marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Kenya and is the first state visit for an African leader since President John Kufuor of Ghana visited in 2008.

The Biden administration has worked to develop ties to African nations, whose people are leery of the United States not only because of what Biden called the “original sin” of colonists importing enslaved Africans to North American shores, but also because while the Soviet Union tended to support the movements when African nations began to throw off colonial rule, the U.S. tended to support right-wing reaction. More recently, during the Trump years the United States withdrew from engagement with what the former president allegedly called “sh*thole countries.”

In contrast, officials from the Biden administration have noted the importance of the people of Africa to the future of the global community. Currently, the median age on the continent is 19, and experts estimate that by 2050, one in four people on Earth will live on the African continent. 

Saying that Africans must have control over their own countries and their own future, U.S. officials backed the admission of the African Union to the Group of 20 (G-20), welcoming the organization’s 55 member states to the intergovernmental forum that focuses on global issues, and pledged more than $55 billion to the continent to aid security, support democratic institutions, and advance civil rights and the rule of law. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, First Lady Jill Biden, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have all visited the continent, where they have emphasized partnership with African countries for economic development rather than a competition with China and Russia for resource extraction. 

In March 2023, Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Ghana, Tanzania, and Zambia to emphasize the connections between Africa and North America, focus on the importance of democracy as Russian disinformation in Africa is driving pro-Russian and anti-U.S. sentiment, and announce U.S. investment in the continent as well as calling for more. 

But in July 2023, those efforts appeared to take a step back when a military coup in Niger deposed elected president Mohamed Bazoum. A few months later, the ruling junta asked the forces of former colonial power France to leave the country and turned to Russia’s Wagner group for security. In March, U.S. diplomats and military officials expressed concern about the increasing presence of Russia in Niger, and a few days later, officials told close to 1,000 U.S. troops stationed in the country to leave as well. Russian troops moved into a military base the U.S. has been using. 

The U.S. says its troops will leave by mid-September and has pledged to continue negotiations. Niger was a key ally in the U.S. antiterrorism efforts against armed forces allied with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Neighboring Chad has also asked the 100 U.S. troops in the country to leave.

Meanwhile, in the year since her trip to Africa, Vice President Harris has focused on digital inclusion in Africa, recognizing that the spread of digital technology has the potential to promote economic opportunity and gender equality and to create jobs, as well as open new markets for U.S. exports. Last week, she announced that the African Development Bank Group and Mastercard have launched the Mobilizing Access to the Digital Economy Alliance (MADE), which is working with public and private investors to provide digital access for 100 million individuals and businesses in Africa over the next ten years, focusing first on agriculture and women. 

Kenya’s President Ruto won election in 2022, promising voters that he would champion the “hustlers,” the young workers piecing together an income informally. U.S. ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman, former chief executive officer of eBay and Hewlett-Packard and unsuccessful 2010 Republican candidate for governor of California, has supported this idea of economic development. Focusing on “commercial diplomacy,” she has worked with Ruto to encourage business investment in Kenya.  

At a state luncheon with President Ruto last week, Harris reiterated her belief “that African ideas and innovations will have a significant impact on the future of the entire world—a belief driven in part by the extraordinary creativity, dynamism, and energy of young African leaders” and by the continent’s young demographic. She reiterated the need to “revise and upgrade the U.S.-Africa narrative, which is long overdue; and to bring fresh focus to the innovation and ingenuity that is so prevalent across the continent of Africa.” She warned: “Any leader that ignores the continent of Africa is doing so at their own peril.” 

While Kenya’s main economic sectors are agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism, it is also a technology hub, and Harris called out its “Silicon Savannah,” a technology ecosystem that produced the cellphone-based money transfer system M-PESA, as well as startups making biodegradable plastics, creating drinking water from humidity, and so on. 

Ruto thanked Harris and Biden “for helping us reshape, reengineer, and write a new narrative for our continent.” Africans “are going to write our own story,” Ruto said, adding that the narrative of “this continent of conflict, trouble, disease, poverty” is “not the story of Africa.” “Africa is a continent of tremendous opportunity,” he said, “the largest reserves of energy—renewable energy resources; 60 percent of the world’s arable, uncultivated land; 30 percent of…global mineral wealth, including those that are necessary for energy transition; the youngest continent, which will produce 40 percent of the world’s…workforce by 2050 and where a quarter of the world’s population will be living, providing the world’s biggest single market. In short,” he said, “Africa is a rich continent and a continent of opportunity.”  

In a conversation with Vice President Harris and Ambassador Whitman, President Ruto said that the young population of Africa is “tech hungry” and that technology “is the instrument that we can use to leapfrog Africa from where we are to…catch up with the rest of the world.” The digital space, he said, is the space that will create the greatest output from young people and women. To that end, he said, Kenya is investing 30% of its annual budget in education, training, knowledge, and skills. 

As part of his reach for global leadership, Ruto has put Kenya at the front of an initiative backed by the United Nations for a multinational security intervention in Haiti, where officials have asked for help restoring order against about 200 armed gangs in the country, coalitions of which control about 80% of the capital, Port-au-Prince. The assassination of Haitian president Jovenel Moïse in July 2021 exacerbated political instability in Haiti by creating a power vacuum, while weapons flowing into the country, primarily from straw purchases in the U.S., fed violence. Last year, then–prime minister Ariel Henry had pleaded with the United Nations Security Council to bolster Haitian security forces and combat the gangs.

The U.S. declined to lead the effort or to provide troops, although it, along with Canada and France, is funding the mission. On Thursday, Biden explained that “for the United States to deploy forces in the hemisphere just raises all kinds of questions that can be easily misrepresented about what we’re trying to do…. So we set out to find…a partner or partners who would lead the effort that we would participate in.” Kenya stepped up, although Kenyan opposition leaders, lawyers, and human rights groups are fiercely opposed to deploying Kenyans to the Caribbean nation. 

The Haitian gangs oppose the Multinational Security Support Mission (MSS), which is supposed to consist of 2,500 troops, 1,000 of whom are Kenyans. The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Chad, and Jamaica have officially notified the United Nations secretary-general of their intent to send personnel to the mission. Other nations have said they will support the mission, but as of May 20 had not yet sent official notifications. The MSS was supposed to arrive by May 23, but a base for it in Port-au-Prince is not yet fully equipped. Experts also told Caitlin Hu of CNN that Haitian authorities have not done enough to explain to local people how the mission will work, and Haitian police say what is most necessary is more support for local police.  

Kenyan news reported that the advance team of Kenyan police officers who went to Haiti to assess conditions for their deployment there will recommend a delay in deployment.






Continue Reading


I Helped Make Standing Rock Go Viral. Now I Regret It. Lucy Biggers




Lucy Biggers poses at Standing Rock in December 2016, after she went live from the camp on the NowThis Facebook page. (All photos courtesy of the author)

Eight years ago, I was in my mid-20s, and like many of my colleagues at NowThis News, I was completely aligned with the company’s left-wing content. As a social video producer, each day I logged on and searched my newsfeed for stories and videos that would appeal to our millions of Facebook followers. I called myself a journalist but really I was an early social media influencer, pushing a very specific point of view. 

The stories that got the most engagement were ones that elicited strong emotions, either happiness or anger. A “happy” story was one in which the good guys—LGBTQ activists, BLM protesters, climate change warriors, and the like—won some battle against greedy capitalists, cops, or (insert white authority figure here). An “angry” story was one in which those oppressors screwed over the good guys. When I came across a story I thought could go viral, I quickly edited the video and added subtitles and music. Then I’d sit back and wait for the reaction from our like-minded followers.

So, in October 2016, when the actress Shailene Woodley popped up on my computer screen, I knew she was going to generate a whole lot of views.

The clip showed her speech after she won an award from the Environmental Media Association. For months, she had been deeply involved in trying to block the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. Flanked by several members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, she spoke emotionally about the importance of stopping the oil pipeline.

“What we are seeing right now at Standing Rock is that thousands of people are committed to fighting and winning a battle against corporate greed with nothing but love and compassion, prayer, and ceremony,” she said. “I’m calling out to everyone in this room tonight, show up. Don’t just tweet about it. . . Go to Standing Rock. Go to Standing Rock.

I quickly did my thing: I ran the video through my editing software, moving the best moments to the beginning. I added emotional music by searching “heartfelt” and “somber” in our music library. I wrote some subtitles. Then I posted it.

Within 24 hours, the video had over 1 million views. By December, that number was up to 17 million. 

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe opposed the pipeline because it was going to be routed underneath Lake Oahe, where the reservation gets its water, which they consider sacred. Even though the pipeline would be 95 feet below the lake, the tribe feared a leak could contaminate it. The protests began in April 2016, when some 60 members of the tribe rode on horseback for miles to set up the Sacred Stone Camp, which soon became known as Standing Rock. They vowed to stay until the pipeline was stopped.

Over the next few months, thanks to the viral clips shared by NowThis and other left-leaning social media sites, hundreds and then thousands of people joined the camp. The Native Americans led the protests, sometimes locking themselves to pipeline machinery or trespassing on the construction sites. Every day, protesters uploaded videos of these “acts of resistance” to Facebook. 

Woodley was a regular at Standing Rock, often livestreaming on Facebook. In one grainy video, she talked about the evils of capitalism, the threat of climate change, and out-of-control corporate greed. She talked about her vegan diet and the increasing difficulty of finding nontoxic foods. In my mind, all of these issues were connected. Late-stage capitalism, colonialism, commercial agriculture, and corporate greed were all part of the mindset that was leading a greedy pipeline company—Energy Transfer Partners—to desecrate Native American land.

For months leading up to Woodley’s speech, I had watched videos of the Standing Rock protests every day, all day long. The term doomscrolling hadn’t been invented yet, but that’s what I was doing. In mid-October, I had watched footage of the police clashing violently with Standing Rock protesters. I quickly edited the footage for NowThis. The next day, Senator Bernie Sanders reshared my video to his millions of followers. Talk about validation!

Read more


Continue Reading


Rashida Tlaib Speaks at Detroit Conference Tied to Terrorist Group Francesca Block




Rep. Rashida Tlaib speaks at the People’s Conference for Palestine last Saturday. (Screenshot via YouTube)

Over the weekend, while most Americans were barbecuing and honoring our fallen soldiers, U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib was in Detroit, speaking at a conference alongside two people with links to a U.S. designated terrorist organization. 

Tlaib was a surprise speaker Saturday at the three-day “People’s Conference for Palestine.” Minutes before she took the stage at the Huntington Place convention center, hundreds of attendees, many dressed in keffiyehs, danced and sang along to music, which one of the organizers told the crowd was a “medley of songs from the first Intifada.” Then he introduced Tlaib, who walked up to the podium with her fist in the air as the audience stood and cheered.

In her 15-minute talk, the Michigan congresswoman accused Israel of “war crimes” and called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “murderous war criminal.” She also appeared to threaten Joe Biden’s election prospects in her state. Referring to the campus protesters, Tlaib stated: “It is disgraceful that the Biden administration and my colleagues in Congress continue to smear them for protesting to save lives no matter faith or ethnicity. It is cowardly. But we’re not gonna forget in November, are we?” 

Wissam Rafidi, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a Marxist terrorist group founded in 1967, also addressed the conference. The PFLP, which the U.S. has designated as a terrorist organization, is not as prominent as Hamas or other terrorist groups. But has, among other things, claimed responsibility in 2019 for exploding a device that killed a 17-year-old Israeli girl in Dolev, a settlement in the West Bank.

At the conference on Friday, Rafidi said, “These Zionists lie like they breathe. I want to assure everyone that there is no longer a place for a two-state solution for any Palestinian. The only solution is one democratic Palestinian land which will end the Zionist project in Palestine.” He also said: “Hamas is part of the resistance of the Palestinian people.” 

Another speaker at the conference was Sana’ Daqqa, the wife of a PFLP terrorist who was sentenced to life in prison for the 1984 abduction and murder of an Israeli soldier. Speaking on both Friday and Sunday, Daqqa praised the anti-Israel movement on U.S. campuses. She then referenced the Hamas massacre on October 7, called the al-Aqsa Flood, as the response to Israel. “The only thing that can stop this is a flood,” she said. “This is what the resistance intended, that the flood would become floods throughout the entire region.” 

The conference was organized by over a dozen pro-Palestine groups, including The People’s Forum, which owns the conference’s website domain. As a recent Free Press investigation showed, The People’s Forum is funded by multimillionaire Marxist Neville Roy Singham, who was born and became wealthy in America but now lives in Shanghai where he funds a number of propaganda sites boosting the Chinese Communist Party. People’s Forum’s executive director Manolo De Los Santos also spoke at the conference, calling for the end of America. “We have to bring down this empire with one million cuts, and those one million cuts have to come from every sector of struggle in this room,” De Los Santos said.

The group’s involvement in the conference “underscores foreign influence efforts into destabilizing U.S. institutions through grassroots activism,” said Alex Goldenberg, lead intelligence analyst at the Network Contagion Research Institute, which researches the spread of “hostile ideological content.”

“The rhetoric from speakers, including those with direct ties to terrorist organizations, glorifies violent resistance and revolutionary actions,” Goldenberg added. “This, coupled with the call for sustained and intensified direct action, raises the alarming possibility that individuals are being indoctrinated to embrace and participate in violence.”

The People’s Forum and its partners, including the Palestinian Youth Movement, are now organizing a rally in D.C. on June 8, calling on protesters to serve as a “red line” and to “surround the White House.” 

“Their explicit objectives are to organize and mobilize protests over the summer, which should raise significant national security concerns,” Goldenberg said.

In February, Tlaib’s sister helped organize a protest vote in Michigan’s Democratic primary against Biden’s policy of supporting Israel in the Gaza War. More than 100,000 Michigan voters cast their ballot for “uncommitted,” including Tlaib herself. As of press time, Tlaib’s spokesperson had not responded to a request for comment from The Free Press

Francesca Block is a reporter for The Free Press. Follow her on X (formerly Twitter) @FrancescaABlock. Eli Lake is a Free Press columnist. Follow him at @EliLake

And become a Free Press subscriber today:

Subscribe now


Continue Reading

Shadow Banned

Copyright © 2023 mesh news project // awake, not woke // news, not narrative // deep inside the filter bubble