Thursday, May 26, 2016

Uh-Oh Moment for Bernie Supporters

What can I say to get a headline? Am I the Trump of the Left?

Until now, I've been a  Bernie fan, but reading about  Bernie's embrace of Cornel West, his proposing West as a member of the Democratic Party platform committee was a rude awakening. 

It brought back memories of the 60's and 70's, an era which shaped Bernie Sanders politically, psychologically and morally, and era when liberal ideology moved America to the left, and from that many good things evolved:  revision of the repressive, destructive and oppressive sexual mores America had labored under,  rejection of racism, Jim Crow and institutional injustice to Black Americans, rejection of wars of colonial aggression/ anti communism.  But amidst all the push in the positive direction, there was, it must be admitted, a substantial load of sheer lunacy, stupidity and self promotion from figures on the left, and Cornel West is a pretty good example of what I'm talking about.

West has called the Prime Minister of Israel the minister of war crimes.  He has called President Obama a Rockefeller in blackface.  He was, quite rightly, chased out of Harvard when as a faculty member he considered his real future in cutting hip hop records but did not do the sort of "scholarship" which is expected of Harvard faculty, so he decamped to Princeton, where he demonstrated the wisdom of Mr. Summers by becoming a voluble jackass.

Now he is Bernie Sanders' first consequential appointment to a public role.

The kind of revolutionary I can warm to
As a college student, I actually scheduled time in my busy day to walk downtown to Providence, R.I. in a peace rally, but when I arrived to get in line, there was a group of students carrying the North Vietnamese flag, which was not an expression of any sentiment I had.  I wanted to walk with American flags, not the flag of the guys who were killing my former classmates.

I find myself in the same position now, placed there by Bernie Sanders. Yes, I want to change things, but if revolution means embracing a guy like Cornel West, well then that's a revolution which has gone off the rails. We wanted a change which exposed stupidity and hypocrisy and which sent the abusers of our financial system packing, but now we have a grade A fool masquerading as a Princeton professor saying, as Stringer Bell would say, "Such shit."

It might be okay if Bernie brought Joan Baez and Bob Dylan and Tom Hayden to the revolution, but when he gets Cornel West and the Black Panthers or a latter day Malcolm X, well we begin wondering how big a mistake we have made.

Sorry Bernie, you lost me.

Suddenly looking a lot better 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Speech I'd Like to Hear Hillary Make

Sometime soon, Hillary Clinton will be asked to address the transgender bathroom law in North Carolina.  

As my brother, who has a home in Chapel Hill remarked, it's interesting that this whole thing started when a local jurisdiction, Charlotte, passed a city ordinance allowing transgenders to use bathrooms of their choice and the state swooped in and said, "Oh, no. You can't do that."  So you had a bigger government, the state, telling local people in Charlotte what they couldn't do. But when the state is told by the federal government they can't tell Charlotte what to do, the state says, "This is an issue of local control over local affairs! You can't come down here and tell us what to do!"

Jelani Cobb notes, in this week's New Yorker "North Carolina was more than willing to countenance 'all gender' bathrooms when they served the puroses of racial segregation. Jim Crow legislation culminated in separate bathrooms for white men and white women but only a single 'colored' rest room for African-Americans, whatever their gender."

Cobb sees an analogy between  this fight and  the civil rights fight for African American rights--"a tableau of states' rights populism, an embattled minority seeking equality, a conflict over who is allowed to use public facilities and a Southern governor committed to resisting federal executive authority."  But a group of Black pastors in North Carolina doesn't see it that way and is supporting the law.

So when Hillary is asked, here's what I hope she'd say:

"The fact is legislators who supported this law, some of them at least, tried to trot out the warning that if transgenders were allowed to use bathrooms, we'd unleash sexual predators on the women of North Carolina. That sounds a lot like the rationale legislators from the same state once used when faced with the opening of public facilities to all races--Black men, who cannot resist raping White women, would somehow be given full license to rape once they are given proximity.  There was the rape myth pinned on Black men and now the rape myth pinned on transgenders and both were nothing more than a manifestation of a sick imagination on the part of some White Southern males.  There has been not a single instance of sexual predation in North Carolina by a transgender.

And it is likely true the Governor of North Carolina, in a tight election race signed this bill into law hoping to shore up his support among White, conservative men. 

But, having recognized the sordid origins of this law, I have to ask myself why Black ministers in North Carolina have formed a group supporting this law. They clearly do not see it as the same thing as denying civil rights to a despised racial minority. 

And one has to listen to the state legislators who said it wasn't the use of bathroom stalls that bothered them, but the mandate that female locker rooms could be used by individuals with male genitalia.  One might ask if this has actually become a problem in North Carolina, but one can also imagine the problem this very easily  might cause for a commercial gym. How will  female customers at a Gold's Gym or a Planet fitness  react?  They hit the gym at 5 AM, by 6 AM they are in the shower and off to work. But what if standing next to them is an individual with male genitalia?  I suppose, if the showers are separate stalls, that might work, but this is a can of worms.

So, I would support a law which allowed bathroom stall use by any gender, but I would also oppose a law which required the opening of female locker rooms to individuals with male genitalia, in the setting of a commercial or educational facility.
It should be noted, the North Carolina law did not forbid the use of facilities by transgenders but it struck down the imposition of a requirement on these facilities. If they wanted to open up the locker rooms, they could.

 I realize this will shock and dismay some of my supporters, who expect me to stand with any reviled minority against the power and intolerance of the state, but as a matter of principle, I cannot support transgender males who still retain male genitalia using locker rooms for females, even if they consider themselves female. 

The fact is, what they think about their own gender identity cannot be forced upon those who may disagree with them, and anatomy in this case, trumps psychology.

That's where I am on this issue. I'm willing to be convinced I've come to the wrong conclusion, but until I hear a compelling argument to the contrary, I would leave female locker rooms to people with female external genitalia."

Name That Donald

Announcing a new contest, right here on Mad Dog Democrat: Name That Donald.

As we all know, the Donald has named "Crooked Hillary" and throughout the primaries he came up with catchy little derisive epithets which had the effect of sticking with his opponents and pricking them.

Here's a speech for Hillary to give on this topic:

Ms. Clinton:

Fellow citizens: I have been considering how to respond to Mr. Trump's name calling style of campaigning and I have been looking for a way to describe Mr. Trump as he has insisted on describing me as "Crooked Hillary."  Of course, I am trying to stand especially straight as I speak, but I realize a nickname is a tough thing to shake, as anyone who has a younger sister named "Pooky" or a brother named "Sparky" can attest.  
Nobody ever called me "Crooked" growing up. In fact, I had some trouble shaking the goody two shoes image, as a kid. So maybe "crooked" isn't so bad. 

But now I consider how to respond when considering Mr. Trump. 

1/As I think of Mr. Trump's typical approach to public speaking, that style which whips up the Ku Klu Klan members in the crowd, the Birthers, the White supremacist elements down in the front rows:    There we hear Dim Donald or the variation Dimwit Donald and Donald Dimwit and   Dumb it down Donald and Duh, Donald and Dumb and Dumber Donald. or simply: Brain Dead Donald

2/ Then there is Mr. Trump  as he works his way through his Miss Universe contestants:  Debauched Donald, Decadent Donald. Dissolute Donald. 

3/ Or then there is Mr. Trumps claims to have been a great businessman while bankrupting his Atlantic City casinos: Deceitful Donald. Diabolic Donald. Duplicitous Donald.

4. How do we describe the man with his  plans to make Mexico pay for the wall:  Deranged Donald?

5. Of course there is the candidate who describes me as the worst Secretary of State ever: Desperate Donald.

6. But then, think of Mr. Trump trying to stay on subject while he delivers  any kind of a policy speech: Dysfunctional Donald.

More research needs to be done.

Thank you, I appreciate your willingness to listen to the woman who Mr. Trump describes as crooked. Considering the source, I take that as a compliment.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Lilac Days on the Seacoast

Usually, I head for the beach on my bicycle, but the past few weeks, I've headed inland, taking old country roads through Kensington to Exeter.  This week the lilacs have been in bloom, lining the roadside and perfuming the air. Spring has come in fits and starts, but mostly it's been cool, in the 60's. That's fine, because the days are dry and clear and it's easy to ride without getting dehydrated.

The horses along the way are getting to know me. They lift their heads, but they no longer trot away from the fences along the road. They snort: "Oh, it's just him. That dumb guy on his bicycle." 

I keep my iPod plugged in, and listen to my playlists.  Randy Newman is wonderful on long bike rides. How could I have missed so much Randy Newman all these years?  For two hours I have him to myself. And George Carlin. And boogie woogie musicians I cannot even name, and did you know Jonny Rivers did the best "Rockin Pneumonia and Boogie Woogie Flu" ever?  

I had a friend I used to walk with, along the Potomac River, along the C&O canal towpath, and he was appalled by people walking in all that primal splendor wearing head phones. You had the chittering of Kingfishers, the rat-a-tat of piliated woodpeckers, the rush of the river, the wind in the trees. Why would you want to block all that out?  

I never argued with him.  But when I walked alone with my dog, I plugged in. Stevie Wonder,  Ritchie Havens, Ray Charles, Joe Cocker. Have you ever listened to the piano player in Cocker's band?   What a marvelous age we live in.  A piano player plays in England and I can walk along the Potomac, deep in woods inhabited by foxes, muskrats, beaver, deer, listening to what that guy did on Abbey Road. 

Sometime in the early 1960's I asked my father what age, what time in history, he would have liked to live in. He was sitting in his leather sling chair, reading. He read. That's mostly what he did, as far as I could see. He did not play ball or fish or hike. He read.  
When I was tired enough, I read, too. History was my favorite.  The Civil War, of course, was in my blood, growing up where I did. I fantasized about hanging out with Lincoln. From my house in Maryland, I could have walked to his house, less than 10 miles away. I would have just watched him and listened. I might have advised him. (Get rid of those loser generals. Get to Grant and Sherman.) You could just hang around the White House then. Or, the age of knights and kings. Or maybe, the age of exploration, in sailing ships. 

My father put down his book briefly and looked at me, one of those rare occasions when he seemed to notice me.  It wasn't often I asked a question he considered interesting, as far as I could tell, but he said, "Well, this age."  He did not seem annoyed at the moment, to have been interrupted. The question was not without some merit. "The present," he affirmed.  "This is the best time to have ever lived."

"What?" I sputtered.  With all the nuclear bombs ready to drop on us? With racism in every city?"
"Every age has been beset with hate, fear and terror.  We've made progress and we benefit from it now."

He picked up  his book  and returned to whatever he was reading. 

I wandered off considering that 1960 might in fact be a better time to be alive than 1860.  In 1960, Lincoln's beloved son would not have died from typhoid. We had better sanitation and antibiotics.  My father saw the virtue of the present where I had lived in the romantic past. 

Now, I remember that, as I pedal along the roads of Rockingham County, New Hampshire. 

Why Trump Can't Lose

Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public, H.L. Menken reminded us. 

Now, as we look at Secretary Clinton sputtering and fuming in frustration, and we see how well the tactic of becoming an eight year old works for the Donald, we can see the future and it is grim. 

Like many insiders, Hillary Clinton has lost the capacity to see herself from the outside.  She simply ignores her greatest lesion--she appears to be part of the system which Bernie Sanders and even Trump depict as corrupt.

Central to all this are those speeches she made millions giving at $250,000 a pop. Well, we all do it, she says. Obama did it. 

But that's the problem. For the assembly line worker in Methuen, saying, "Well, it was perfectly legal," does not work.  To the assembly line worker, the idea of a politician calling up a CEO and asking for a few thousand dollars for his "war chest"  or for the party coffers looks indistinguishable from asking for a bribe.  

And Hillary says, "Sure. I did what everyone does."

Then, says the woman on the line, everyone ought to be thrown out. You're all crooks.

It doesn't matter to that lady on the line if Trump says keep all the Muslims out. She doesn't like what the Pope says about divorce, or contraception, and she may not like that her gay son cannot take communion, but she's still a Catholic. She can accommodate a lot of things she doesn't like in authority figures, as long as the things she sees as most important are still intact. So, if Trump is a guy who chases skirts, or calls illegal Mexican immigrants rapists, or wants to halt Muslims at the borders until we can figure out a way to screen them, well, how different is that from what the Democrat running for Senate in New Hampshire has said?

The fact is, as the candidate Trump focuses his attacks on Crooked Hillary, he can slide away from his xenophobia, from anything, because he lives in the moment, in the present. He can't remember what he said yesterday.

Hillary lives in the past. So she beats on, a boat against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Marketing the Anti Trump

Where can I get this puppet?
surely, there must be a way.  It's simply a matter of getting Don Draper together with Bernie Sanders and Bernie Frank and Elizabeth Warren and Warren Buffet and maybe James Taylor and Susan Sarandon and Loren Michael and some local Hampton Democrats and we'll all sit around Smutty Nose brewery one night and come up with a Saturday Night live version of the Donald, which we can package as 30 second ads in a campaign which will be so revealing and so compelling and so truthful that even the dimmest citizen, even the guy who was all set to vote for The Donald because, well, he hasn't thought much beyond that marketing campaign from the Donald which has captured the prevailing narrative.  The Donald marketing campaign: Make America great (White) again,  and we'll all be winners and the Democrats are the party of Disaster.  It's all out there.

All we need is a well crafted answer.

In the Oval Office

And, just as important, we must do the same for Kelly Ayotte, who is actually a much more difficult problem, because, unlike The Donald, she is very careful to present herself as completely safe and conventional. 
Kelly, as the quintessential  all American girl, a mother who raised a warrior son. A sweet woman, who  became a hard nosed prosecutor before she went off to the United States Senate where she became the dream girl of the Tea Party Republicans, and dated Joe Arpaio, the toughest sheriff in the country, the guy who rounded up all those illegal alien rapists and paraded them down the street in pink underpants. She became the poster girl for every Right Wing nut, and she played around with the good ol' boys from the South, while the folks back home in New Hampshire thought she was just attending Senate hearings and keeping her nose clean and powdered.
Is this a mask or a puppet?

This may be, as Don Draper once observed, one of those things which looks easy, which everyone thinks he could do, coming up with a few, succinct ideas and images which illuminate, but actually, it's maybe not so easy. 
Scott Brown: Don't Cry For Me, Massachusetts

After all, everyone from SNL to Stephen Colbert to Rachel Madow has had a crack at the Donald, but nothing has so much as pricked his surface. He is Kevlar coated. The guys who believe in him (and they are mostly guys) cannot be shown the emperor no matter how nakedly inane he may be. 

But what about that part of the slumbering electorate who hasn't formed a clear opinion? 
That's the puppet we need

Is there time? Is there a way?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

New Hampshire In the South

May 19, 1864,  the battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse ground to a surly conclusion.  Grant disengaged his army from the bloody fighting with Lee and moved South, toward Richmond.  He predecessors had always retreated north, licking their wounds when beaten by Lee in Virginia, but Grant simply rolled away and moved South, hoping to draw Lee out of the Wilderness and into the open.  Grant had lost 33,000 soldiers and Lee 18,000.  But Grant had more soldiers and his plan was simply to keep fighting Lee, not to capture Richmond but to destroy the Army of Northern Virginia. 

With his army were men from New Hampshire. There had been men from New Hampshire at Gettysburg, and there were men from New Hampshire in Louisiana. 

They died from measles, diptheria, hepatitis, farm boys who had no immunity to diseases found among crowds.  And they died of malaria in the tropical South.  Some died from bullets and explosives. 

Why did they leave New Hampshire?  How did so many individuals decided to sign up, to march off to war? 

You see their names in the rolls and in the casualty lists: Blake, Foye, Marston, Philbrick, Batchelder, Merrill, Sanborn, Chase, Bean, Dow. Names we still see on stores, commercial trucks, street signs (what few we have here), parks.

What were they thinking? 

Since the Revolutionary War, Hampton and the surrounding towns kept militias, amateur groups of men with guns who met twice a year to march around. Some went off to fight in the Mexican War, but after that enthusiasm for military adventures waned and the militias were disbanded. The Civil War brought something different: recruitment of regiments for a known war. 

Slavery would have continued-- for who knows how long? -- had it not been for men from New Hampshire and other Northern states who were willing to enlist.

One can only imagine whatever lives they were leading here was not attractive enough to hold them. 

We can speculate, dream, but we can never know. All we know is what they did, not why.

Monday, May 16, 2016

What Mr. Trump Knows about The Donald

He doth protest too much.  When David Cameron accused the Donald of being a number of unappealing things,"He is divisive. He is stupid and he is wrong,"  the Donald shrugged off all the other adjectives but he objected: "I am not stupid."  At stupid, he draws the line. "I'm not stupid, okay?"

It's remarkable how often the Donald defends his own intelligence by simply declaring how smart he is, by saying he went to an Ivy League school (Penn), one of the best, by saying how smart and rich he is, as if those two things are mutually validating, by simply declaring he is brilliant. "I use all the best words." Well, that proves his case, right there. Anyone smart enough to use the best words cannot be stupid, ipso facto.

On some level, you have to believe, he knows  the sad truth. He has had enough experience to inform himself of his own intellectual limitations.

He can see the look in the eye of his interlocutor, as he answers a question inadequately or...stupidly. He knows, on some level, he hasn't got it. 

This is one of those profoundly unsettling experiences in life:  coming to grips with your own limitations.  Hopefully, you have enough strengths you can say, "Well, I may not be the smartest person in the world, but..."
Intelligent Republican

I particularly liked the response of a real estate developer I was talking with as we sat together in a steaming, stinking gymnasium during a lull in a wrestling tournament our sons were  doing.  This man was very rich, not Trump rich, but rich enough, probably the richest man in the gym. "I never was very good in school. Didn't get very far in math. But I sure learned how to add and subtract. Turned out in business, that's all you need."

He took satisfaction in knowing he didn't need to be an "A" student in calculus, and he didn't need to have high SAT scores and his lack of Ivy League credentials didn't matter in the testosterone fueled world of constructing suburban malls, which is where he made his money. He had enough intelligence to find his niche and exploit it. 

So many people from the Ivy League have certified  intelligence but never manage to find a niche.  

Reading about the genius of birds, about animal intelligence, I am now realizing just how varied this thing we call "intelligence" really is. 

Mr. Trump has some sort of intelligence, just not the kind he envies. He is intelligent enough to know, deep down, how very limited his capacities are. He may have a "genius" for marketing or for sensing what an audience wants, but those types of intelligence, as useful as they may be in winning the Presidency, would not likely be sufficient to perform well in that Office. His rambling riffs on the world are entertaining, the way, say, Louis C. K. is amusing, but when you ask him whether he is going to send troops to Syria or Libya or whether he will nominate Rush Limbaugh to the Supreme Court, you need better answers than, "I know the guy. I like him."

Apes, it turns out, have all sorts of intelligence unrecognized by human beings. When asked to perform certain tasks, like identifying objects hidden from view by touch, they perform very well, but after a few trials, they do not. Turns out, they bore easily and simply stop trying. 

This may be the best we can say for Mr. Trump. He bores easily and simply stops trying. But then, the comparison of the intelligence of the Donald to that of the chimpanzee may be an invidious comparison, insulting to the chimpanzee.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Wrong Poster Child: Transgenders as Victims

When Michael Brown, the 18 year old Black male who was shot in a suburb of St. Louis, became an example of Black youth violated by white police, discerning minds around the country said, "Uh-oh, maybe not the best example you would want for the victimization of Black youth."

The images of the massive Brown beating and intimidating a slight South Asia convenience store clerk as Brown stole some small cigars was enough evidence to suggest this 18 year old was no child and was, in fact, a thug. It was enough to make some people wonder if this particular 18 year old might, in fact, have stormed into the police car as the police asserted and tried to wrest the policeman's gun from him.  If Brown was shot in the back, that still has to be explained, but if you imagine a policeman physically attacked, you might imagine he didn't want this particular 18 year old running around looking for another victim.

But the knee jerk reaction ensued:  he was Black and shot dead, so he was innocent and he was used by well meaning, but misguided, people as a good example of a major societal ill, namely violent racist White police.

The same sort of mindless rush to embrace transgenders in locker rooms and bathrooms seems to be exerting gravitational pull on President Obama, who ordinarily is thoughtful, in a lawerly sort of way, weighing both sides of the argument, and choosing a reasonable path toward solution. Not so with his response to transgenders in bathrooms and locker rooms.

Mr. Obama, and many Democrats continue to cast this debate as one about victimization of innocent people who are simply different, who are struggling to be accepted, or at least to be left alone, in a cruel and mocking world. Mr. Obama and others see these people as being similar to homosexuals in their position of being ostracized, demeaned and denied basic human rights, like the right to marry whomever they love, something which affects nobody but themselves. 

Let's first agree there is a significant difference between a bathroom, where there are stalls which conceal people using the bathroom from each other, and a locker room, where women strip naked in front of each other, walk naked into a shower and shower naked. 

Let us also agree that nobody of good will should wish to hurt the feelings or threaten the psyche of a fellow citizen, even if that citizen is odd or frankly deranged. Everyone ought to be treated with respect.

But, suppose, for a moment,  that a person who has male external genitalia, walks into a locker room with thirteen year old females with female external genitalia and strips down to use the shower with these girls.  Is it unreasonable for these girls to express discomfort with this? 

And if their expression of discomfort made the person with the testicles feel demeaned and abused, should we say that his/her discomfort should prevail over the discomfort of the girls?

Suppose, just for the sake of argument, that at least some physicians who deal with transgender people who believe that, unlike homosexuality, most if not all transgender people have significant psychopathology.  This psychopathology may have understandable biochemical roots.  But it is psychpathology, palpable and real and not simply another way of being.

If you believed transgender people have a disease, in this sense, would it affect your analysis of their rights to use locker rooms or even bathrooms which have been designated for "women?" 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

To Russia, With Love

Move over, Ukraine, Russia has displaced you.  Last week, Mad Dog had 119 hits from the USA, 42 from Ukraine and 691 from Russia.

Mad Dog is a hit in Russia!

Friends, who are more internet savvy than Mad Dog, have suggested since many of the world's most perfidious hackers live in Russia,  attention from Russia may not be a good thing.  

Others have suggested some of Mad Dog's  past posts regarding Mr. Vladimir Putin might have got him on the screens at whatever replaced the KGB. Again, not the audience Mad Dog would be wise to seek. 

Mad Dog prefers to think he is a big hit in Russia, that Russians are intrigued by American politics in the heartland.

Most of what Mad Dog knows about Russia comes directly from the David Lean film, "Dr. Zhivago," a movie  made by a  Brit, starring an Egyptian in the role of Zhivago, a Brit as Lara and an American as the arch villain. Not a bone fide Russian in the cast, but it has to be authentic because it's got that wonderful musical score which sounds very Russian and it was filmed, as Mad Dog recalls, in Finland, which is almost Russia.

Actually, with the rise of the Donald, Mad Dog believes we all may have much to learn from the Russians about dealing with a leader who commands rapt affection from his countrymen, while saying and doing bizarre, belligerent things while mismanaging his economy. At least Mr. Putin has not had to seek bankruptcy protection for any of his government owned companies, so he may have the edge on Mr. Trump in management skills. 

And then there is Maria Sharapova, that dazzling Russian tennis player, who could arouse interest in the most entrenched Russia o phobe.  She can surely compete with the Donald's current squeeze. Mr. Putin has a girlfriend who showed up at the Winter Olympics held in Russia, and presumably Mr. Putin put her on display to demonstrate he can compete with Mr. Trump and Mr. Obama for arm candy any day.

Mad Dog fondly  remembers his Russian friends from his days in Washington, D.C. Of course, these were ex-patriot Russians, so there is selection bias, but most of them said, at one time or another, Russia is a great country to be from. They really did not seem to miss mother Russia much. Russia apparently did not treat Jews well. Nor women, to hear my friends tell it. Nor people who felt inclined to complain about oligarchs who were cozy with Mr. Putin or Mr. Putin's friends. 

One thing which did not impress the Russians was size.  We talk about the Great Plains, but they sniff.  In Russia, we have 15 time zones. Or winter. We have Minnesota and North Dakota; they have Siberia. No contest.  We also, of course, have Alaska, but as Sarah Palin can attest, that's just a Russian annex, up there.

So, Hello Russia! Whoever you are. 

One thing Mad Dog does not understand: Why the silence?  This right here is a free country. You are allowed to speak up, speak your mind. Love to hear from you.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Bernie, Hillary and Major Barbara

George Bernard Shaw wrote a wonderful play called, "Major Barbara" in 1905 which students used to read in high school and which has suddenly become relevant again.

Barbara Undershaft is a Major in the Salvation Army, inveighing against demon rum and war and all things nasty and money driven and speaking for the good works of man which embody God's will.

She is confronted with her long lost father, whom she has not seen since her parents divorced and discovers he is a very rich capitalist, who owns a company town in which the workers are well paid, provided for with all earthly comforts and spiritual benefits of churches and schools.  The source of all this well being is profit from the Undershaft armaments factories.  Undershaft is a merchant of death, but he has provided a wonderful life for hundreds of workers. 

Barbara rejects his money, his help because the money is tainted money, money drenched in the blood of the victims of the bombs and bullets made by Undershaft's factories.

When Undershaft offers a large contribution to the Salvation Army post where Major Barbara works, she is horrified to think of all that tainted money being accepted by the Salvation Army.  But the man in charge of this post accepts not only Undershaft's generosity but money from a whiskey maker.

"I would accept money from the Devil himself, if I could put it toward advancing God's good works," says the director.

Eventually, Barbara herself accepts this thinking. In a capitalist society, she realizes, there really is no such thing as "clean money."   Sleazeball financial barons contribute large sums to support hospitals;  slave owners got the money they used to found universities from the misery of slaves. Part of the Brown family money came from the slave trade (although part of the family rejected slaving.) Georgetown University sold slaves. Andrew Carnegie, who turned a blind eye to the brutalization of workers in his steel mills gave the money for Carnegie Tech, now Carnegie Mellon. And Mellon was a ruthless capitalist.  The capitalist economy of England was founded on exploitation of colonial peoples.  

But even beyond the examples of individuals or companies which have done nasty things, all parts of the economy benefit from the spoils of war, or empire or commercial exploitation.  The baker buys his flour transported by trains built by cooley labor and he sells it to people who work in the factory which builds bombs which kill innocents abroad who the factory workers never see. 

The capitalist economy of 21st century America is no less interconnected.  

The same man who contributes to Planned Parenthood may give generously to the Catholic Church or to the Mormon Church.  The Koch brothers have part of Lincoln Center named in honor of the money they have given, and that money comes from oil and also supports a reactionary agenda which includes union busting. 

The affluence of many Southern cities depends on "defense contractors" i.e., the production of weapons of mass destruction which wind up being dropped on Palestinians or other oppressed people. 

In past decades, sweat shops in China, Taiwan, El Salvador paid their workers starvation wages so "stuff" could be sold cheaply in the United States. 

You can poison a gallon of clean water with a few drops of arsenic or lead. And you cannot get an engine running without greasing the gears with dirty grease and oil.

Maybe Hillary needs to re read "Major Barbara" as she struggles to answer questions about those speeches to Goldman Saks. "I'd take money from the Devil to get the laws the Middle Class needs."

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Trumped! Our Very Own Berlusconi

If Donald Trump never does another good thing for his country, at least he managed to thwart one of the most malicious sleaze balls in his quest for the presidency. Listening to Mr. Cruz's concession speech tonight was the ultimate reminder of the great service the Donald has done his country by ending the ordeal of having to listen to the stomach turning Mr. Cruz any longer.

Running against Trump will be a challenge for Hillary Clinton. Like most lawyers, like anyone who has been in government, Hillary thinks in terms of policies, and programs,  but Trump does none of this.  Do you apply the principle of punishing an accomplice to murder by prosecuting a woman who has an abortion? Yeah, sure, why not?  No, wait.  Hell, I don't care.  Who thinks about stuff like that anyway?  Hey, we're gonna make America great again: that's what I'm talking about!  

How do you debate a ten year old who will stand on the stage and make faces and thumb his nose at you and called you names?  

Mr. Trump joins that pantheon of rich men who seek public office by sheer audacity and exuberance and succeed, for a time. He will have to step up his game to compete with  Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian premier,  who was fond of appointing former lovers to government offices. He appointed Marla Carfagna, a former bedmate,  as his Minister of the Ministry of Equal Opportunity--taking the name of that ministry quite literally--if this woman was willing to go to bed with me, why should she not have equal opportunity to serve in public office?

Who would not want equal opportunity with her?

Perhaps Hillary's best option would be to send Bernie to the debates with the Donald. She could say, "When the Republicans nominate an adult, I'll debate. Until then I'll send my Vice Principal to deal with the Infant Terrible." 

The Donald should be studying the game films of Mr. Berlusconi in action.  This is  how an infantile billionaire can frame the discussion among world leaders when considering important questions like what to do with the Syrian refugees flooding into Europe or how to handle the Greek default. 

Who needs adults ,when we can have such fun?

We all have to admit, it will be interesting to see what the composition of America really is. Will the Donald appeal to only the 32% who voted for him in the early primaries or will more and more Americans catch the fun train?   Are we more like Germany or Italy?  Germany, after all, elected a decent, if frumpy lady whose instincts have been magnanimous and conciliatory, while Italy preferred Mr.  Berlusconi, who was way more fun, who threw parties with a ready supply of young women (teenagers, actually)  to bed for all his rich friends, while running a tabloid news and real estate empire. 
Now this is the way to govern

I may have to start watching reality TV.  How about "Survivor?" 
Nicole Minetti

Both billionaires seem to have a taste for a certain look of woman. In the case of Nicole Minetti, who procured the teenagers for Mr. Berlusconi's "parties" the look was lean and angular. At least, one might say, he had a certain standard he maintained.  Mr. Trump, apparently, has similar tastes.  And he's an internationalist. He likes Miss Universe contestants. And as was true of Mr. Berlusconi, the women seem to find something to like in the Donald. Might be the hair. Might be the money.  Something works for these guys.
I may have some young ladies for you

Stay tuned.

I Dig  Donald