"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Trump, Biden, And The Rooting Out Of Evil–A Very American Folly

It was absolute, unalloyed, hilarious fun to watch the Donald Trump Show for four years, and many of those who so badly wanted him out of office are now sorry he is gone.  The marvelous vaudevillian stage is empty.  The circus sideshow closed.  A dour, distracted, morally confused, philosophically errant Joe Biden has taken the concession and turned it into a storefront church.  

The glitzy, glamourous runways of Las Vegas dismantled, the sexual hijinks a thing of the past.  Trump was a bombastic lion tamer, a clown, and a ringleader. A once in a lifetime star performer.  A grandmaster, a popular hero, Borscht Belt, Carnegie Deli, barroom, barnyard humor comedian.   

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Yet, said his progressive bear baiters and baying hounds, he was evil.  Not just evil, but the incarnation of evil, the Devil himself, demons, warlocks, ghouls, and flesh-eating zombies all rolled into one.

Americans feel they have a nose for evil, and once on the scent, bay like bloodhounds until they have found its lair. Given the insidious, pernicious, and universal evil today, Auschwitz, the Nazi holocaust, Pol Pot and the Year One, Stalin’s gulags and Mao’s labor camps are but historical backdrops, too complicated to understand, easier to acknowledge and forget, and ultimately unimportant.  Racism, misogyny, and homophobia while less murderous, are no less pernicious and dangerous, say today's progressives.   If bigots were to have their way, then America would soon become the devil’s playground, a romper room for hideous, unconscionable acts.

Not only was Donald Trump evil, claim these moral exorcists, but he spread his perversion like spawn.  His evil offspring are now everywhere – in every political holler, backwater, swamp, bayou, and redwood enclave – and these foul places must be cleansed, maliciousness and hatred excavated, and meanness and political torture banned.

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Of course, this is all a charade, a feel-good exercise in moral bonhomie.  Donald Trump was not evil but a willful, ambitious, imperturbably determined man who had made his bones on the meanest streets of America and saw the presidency as the last, crowing step in his great burlesque cavalcade.  His flippant remarks, his political incorrectness, and his absolute refusal to be cowed by those who had never been bruised and torched in battle, drove his opponents to distraction, not only because they had been singled out, but because the man had refused to see the rightness of their ways.  He was dark and despicable, and could see no light.

All of which added to the melodrama, Punch and Judy, grand guignol, big tent atmosphere of the Trump years. Without antagonists, bitchy, vindictive, righteous naysayers, his circus act would be a dud, refunds demanded, and flaps to the tent closed.  It was a grand old time, watching Trump and his arm candy coterie, all glitz and glitter, feathers and gilt, strut their stuff on the Washington stage – a stage only known for actors in baggy suits and dowdy wives.  An airless, dismal place of predictable trickery and venality.

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In comes Donald Trump in his Las Vegas finery, Il Duce looks, and total indifference to the eye-shaded bureaucrats and failed patriot wannabees on Capitol Hill, and the entire Establishment gets twisted and hysterical.

The progressive Left has always been exercised about ‘evil’ and evil doings.  Richard Nixon, they claimed, was dark and unprincipled, a liar, cheat, and bully.  Watergate was not simply the stock in trade of palace intrigues, but the worst expression of an immoral man worthy only of burning at the stake.   Ronald Reagan’s determined rescue of a conservative nation far too long in the grip of socialism was spitefully challenged by the Left – an evil, destructive, inhumane rejection of the poor, the marginalized, the minorities; a reversion to Robber Baron laissez-faire capitalism, and corporate greed.

Now, with Trump gone, hated conservative shibboleths removed, and with nothing to fuel their fires, progressives have turned to history to vent their anger and restate their principles.  Statues of Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Washington, and Adams have come down, racist slaveowners all, pigs more deserving of faces in the mud than wreaths and accolades.

These men were evil because they subscribed to a system which was the embodiment of human iniquity.  Slavery was an unforgiveable crime against humanity, no different than Nazi death camps or Soviet gulags. 

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It felt good once and for all to spew the social hatred that had been brewing for decades, and only partially acquitted during the Trump years.  Not only were these dead white men legitimate targets for righteous anger, one would not have to listen to their lame, self-serving justifications.  Slavery is as old as the hills practiced by the greatest civilizations the world has known, and repeated by the least.  Rome, Greece, Persia, Ghana, and India practiced slavery without a second thought. Moral exclusivity is cherry picking and myopic, they would have said, so better that their ignorant voices be muted by our censure.

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The progressive movement is indeed an inclusive one and within its own logic, quite rational.  For those who have have seen the nature of good and evil as perfectly clear and unobscured by codicils or interpretation as progressives have, Utopia is possible, definable, and reachable. The confrontation with evil, doing battle, and defeating it are only precursors to the establishment of a spiritual, moral reward.  

For all others, this is preachy nonsense.  Politicians ipso facto cannot be evil.  They are too immured within electoral walls.  They cannot see beyond their next term, and will do anything in their power to secure it.  They will all lie, deceive, cheat, cut corners, trick, and manipulate; but the very worst of them are far from Hess, Goebbels, Goering, and Eichmann.

They are pussycats, capable only of a bit of bad boy antics here and there, a few fingers in the cookie jar, some whoopee on the side; but evil? That is a loud barking up the wrong tree.  And there is no more such thing as absolute, irremediable, innate evil as there is absolute good.  Systemic violence or a Margaret Mead Trobriand Islanders goodness are both fictions.

Conservatives watch with glee as progressives self-destruct.  The more statues toppled, Critical Race Theory instituted, Black Lives Matter mayhem tolerated, taxes increased, profligate spending encouraged, the greater the chances of Republican victory next year and in 2024.  ‘Let ‘em rant’, Trump says.  ‘Gotta love it.’

Friday, October 29, 2021

Blaze O’Glory–How A New Orleans Courtesan Spiced Up The Progressive Wing Of The Democratic Party

Blaze O’Glory (birth name Ellen Ann Frampton) was born in Baton Rouge, but when she was ten the family moved to a small town on Bayou Lafourche where her father had bought and kept a shrimp boat.  Their lives were satisfactory but uneasy, dependent on the weather, the catch, and the upkeep of Damsel Eye, the 25 year old scow that her father transformed into a reasonable facsimile of a shrimper.  School was a problem.  There really was nothing suitable on the bayou, and the girl was getting restless and impatient with her life on the water. 

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It was New Orleans that had captured her attention since she was first taken to Mardi Gras.  The floats, the costumes, the nakedness, the outrageous sensuality of it all left an indelible impression on her.  From that first moment on Bourbon Street she wanted to be half naked in sparkles and glitter, with a gold tiara on her head, high heel shoes, and a grand, smiling mask.

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She was accepted to the Church of the Little Flower school for girls in New Orleans, a small, unpretentious, inexpensive but serious school run by the Carmelite nuns who took in children they thought either needed spiritual counsel and support or who were already novitiates in spirit and would go on to serve the Lord.

Sister Marie Joseph was particularly taken with Ellen Ann on her first visit, prettily dressed, demure but with a sparkle and a certain enthusiasm.  Most of the girls applying for admission to the school were rather dour and uninteresting, pious enough, but not quite fitting the profile Mother Superior had in mind for her students.  Ellen Ann on the other hand, was exactly what she was looking for.  She would lend a certain young feminine exuberance to the school which Mother Superior surprisingly never tampered with in her girls.  It was what God intended when He created them.

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Mother Superior was only concerned about Ellen Ann’s sexual precocity.  She had matured early and was at eleven beginning to look like a young woman – budding breasts, a full female figure, soft full lips, and a certain enticing walk.  Sister wondered where these very young girls acquired such an early allure.  They certainly were not taught it, at least not in the case of Ellen Ann whose mother was a simple ranch woman from East Texas, dutiful, homebound, and responsible.  There was something innate in these girls – she immediately thought of Lolita, a book discouraged by the Archbishop but never forbidden.  Ellen Ann did indeed remind one of Lo Hayes in body and spirit, something indefinable and, the good nun thought, dangerous.

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It wasn’t long before Ellen Ann was loitering around the Little Flower boys’ school, standing seductively by the fence at recess surrounded by older boys who pressed close to her and held her hand.  She was as drawn to them as they were to her, and Sister had to intervene carefully.  She knew from past experience that too much discipline too early especially in the area of sex and sexuality could turn these girls away from her and the church; but Ellen Ann had to be warned about the occasion of sin that Father Oudinot always spoke about from the pulpit.

Ellen Ann took the lead in all the school plays.  Just as she was sexually precocious, she was born for the stage.  She was confident, assured, and convincing.  She could become the character she was playing and the audience easily and quickly suspended their disbelief and Ellen Ann became her.

By the time she was in high school, she had little patience with school productions and tried out for parts in local community theatre.  She auditioned for roles which matched her emerging sexuality and sexual promise.  The theatre was the perfect way for her to express her sexual maturity while preserving her propriety and good behavior.

At the same time these amateur productions were far too staid and predictable for her.  She wanted to exhibit herself, not simply suggest femininity in very tepid, ordinary ways; so when she was eighteen she joined one of the more famous Mardi Gras krewes and because of her lithesome beauty and natural burlesque theatricality, she was featured.  She loved the attention, the kisses thrown from the crowd, and the advances of the male members of the krewe.  She had found herself and her career.

There was nothing in her background, lineage, or upbringing that limited her possibilities.  Bayou Lafourche and the French Quarter were far from Puritan New England or the proper Midwest; and the Broadway stage and the great actresses of the London stage were unknown or irrelevant.  She tried out for and was successful at burlesque, and joined a New Orleans-based touring company which the Church had singled out for its sexual impropriety and overtly salacious performances, but to Ellen Ann, who took the name of Blaze O’Glory, it was just right.  While some suggested that she was wasting her talent on burlesque, when with a little hard work and dedication, she could become a ‘real’ actress.

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Nothing doing, said Blaze.  I am who I am; and she became one of the most famous runway stars in the nation.  She was the Sister Carrie of New Orleans and beyond – gifted, ambitious, and very determined.

Washington, DC is not known for burlesque; and although in the late 19th century it had been a popular medium just as it was in New York and Chicago, it had soon fallen out of favor. Propriety, never a long suit of politicians, became the ethos of an increasingly bureaucratic city, and burlesque disappeared.  

Congressmen, however, not drawn from the most sophisticated elites of the country, were more attracted to Blaze’s glitter, décolleté, sparkle, and leggy suggestiveness than to a Jackie Kennedy tailored modesty. They were, to put it crudely, horny men, frustrated at the enforced propriety of the censorious age, and anxious for some excitement.  One had to be careful – the Governor of New York had gotten caught with his pants down at the Mayflower with a high priced hooker – but there were ways, like laundering money, to keep adventure out of the news.

Surprisingly, the men who first and consistently bought Blaze O’Glory’s services were progressives, men who had been arm-in-arm with women at the barricades protesting male sexual hegemony, patriarchy, and abuse; who were behind every piece of legislation aimed at dismantling male privilege, and were tireless supporters of reconfiguring civil justice to serve women in their legal battles against predatory males.  These lawmakers conformed to the feminist ideal of ‘good’ men, as far as that went, and were models of good, respectful behavior.

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Of course these men who had come from the hollers, backwoods, mountain passes, prairies, and bayous of America were rubes at heart, and once they got a glimpse of the lights of the big city wanted nothing but hot pussy; so, they like all politicians were convinced they could have things their own way and would never be censured by an adoring voting public.  They were feminist by day and rutting cowboy by night.

Blaze made millions servicing these ‘two-siders’.  Her agent had been hired for his access to the powerful, for his quick legal intimidation, and for his ability to conceal traces, threads, and mites of indiscretion.  He was fabulously paid and a happy man, welcomed in Democratic circles.

Blaze would have had no success in Washington under the Trump presidency.  He was a vaudevillian, a burlesque comedian, a man of Hollywood, Las Vegas, and New York.  He had the likes of Blaze O’Glory as arm candy at every opening, at every soiree, at every turn.   He was a man who championed the bourgeois ethic, who no sooner wanted Robert Frost and Pablo Casals at his White House than the man in the moon.  Trump was all glitz and glamour, show, and outrageous fun.  Some went after him for his 'misogyny', but the charges never stuck, so popular was he and his sexual image.  For four delightful years the country was free from political sanctimony.

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The prudish, censorious, fun-dampening era of Joe Biden was another story.  Although progressive politicians claimed righteousness and solidarity with women, they secretly wondered, ‘Why can’t we have what he had?’, referring to Donald Trump and his beauty queens; and so the quite unsuspected and very felicitous arrival of Blaze O’Glory on the Washington scene was a godsend.  

If they played their cards right, these progressive politicians could have their cake and eat it too.  Blaze’s calendar was filled months ahead and her prices rose accordingly.  The politicians, wealthy men (oil, corn, soybeans, trucking, logging) before taking office were even more fabulously so after assuming power.  There was no shame in such ambition nor anything unseemly in the annals of the Capital about using power for wealth.  It was par for the course, de rigeur, and as it should be.

So these happy progressives paid and paid more, never balked at what had become Blaze’s Park Avenue ladies-of-the-night, Belle de Jour tariffs, and continued to line up for the Cajun Cat of Bayou Lafourche.

Of course these randy Congressmen eventually were caught in flagrante delicto, naked as jaybirds at the Mayflower and the Willard not with Blaze but one of her beautiful, ambitious tutees, recruited in these high-demand times, and willing to take their chances, particularly with Ames Bernstein as their agent/ lawyer.   

Blaze herself had kept above the law, meeting only the highest paying Congressmen far from K Street and out of sight of any prying media; and after the four heady years of the Biden Administration and just before Donald Trump once again took office, she retired back to Louisiana, address unknown.

Hers had been a charmed, delightful, and perfect life, one led in the limelight but out of the spotlight.  She had no qualms about her profession.  On the contrary, she was proud of her talents and her success; and not for one minute did she have shameful or regretful thoughts.

Washington and the world needs more Blaze O’Glorys; and perhaps after the stifling, sanctimonious, prudish, and frustrated Biden years more women like her will come East.  One can only hope.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

The Sexual Indiscretions Of A Social Reformer–How Sexual Congress Foils Feminism At Every Turn

Bobby Phillips was a senior member of an important progressive think tank in Washington and had risen through the ranks thanks to his continued commitment to social change.  He had been in the avant-garde of the civil rights and peace movements.  He had been a loud and defiant activist in favor of the civil rights of blacks, women, and gays. He had been a community organizer, a fundraiser par excellence, and first at the Black Lives Matter barricades.  He rallied with gay crowds in San Francisco, paraded shirtless on floats in the Bay to Breakers parade, walked proudly with his leathered, tethered, and chained transgender colleagues, and became known as a progressive for all seasons – a man with deep personal, moral, and political commitment to The Cause

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He had for the most part maintained a very principled stance when it came to women.  He knew that they had for millennia suffered sexual abuse at the hands of patriarchal, authoritarian men, and were just now coming into their own.  The MeToo Movement was the epicenter of modern feminism, for it abjured any and all salacious, invasive, and devilishly quixotic male behavior.  

Women, the movement’s leaders contended, should call out the most indifferent sexual slight.  Men, if not stopped in their tracks (smiling, opening doors, remarking on appearance) would all go on to more insidious and ultimately violating behavior.  Men, these loud advocates insisted, were all the same; all fired by the same raging male hormones, all deformed by years of unquestioned male authority, and all innately dishonest, deceitful, and predatory.

Bobby signed on happily, and although one of the few males credentialed to gain entry, became the movement’s liaison to the male community.  Bobby, with his air of temperance and good will, his eloquence, and apparent sincerity was exactly the right man to speak to male students at colleges and universities, men’s groups, and corporate sensitivity training sessions.  He did all this with respect and aplomb.  The fact that his female colleagues had excluded him from their restrictive category of ‘all’ men was a tribute to his sincerity and right-mindedness.

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The problem with all this was that Bobby, when alone and reflective, had his doubts about such feminist claims.  How was it that women who claimed their intellectual and moral superiority demanded protection from men – safe houses, abrogation of due process, and a freedom to dress as salaciously as Times Square hookers without censure or admission of sexual responsibility?  How was it that women still needed men emotionally? And that despite their championing of lesbianism and the gender spectrum, their conviction that living alone without a man was Pauline in inspiration, they still married, co-habited, and compromised?

It was ironic, thought Bobby, that this radical feminism set out to neuter the very assertive maleness that women had forever sought.  They might have created men who asked ‘May I’ again and again in sexual embrace, and admired them for their sincerity, but they still considered them dorks and dweebs of no sexual interest whatsoever.  Women still were attracted to bad boys.  There was still something in their shameless masculinity, their confidence, their assertiveness, and their wild independence which shouted ‘Father of my children!’. 

The great world epics – Gilgamesh, the Ramayana, the Iliad, Beowulf, and the Odyssey – were not tales of sensitive, attentive men; but of warrior heroes, gladiators, and powerful sexual ambitions. In ordinary society the most lucrative and perennially popular genre of literature is Romance novels where such male valor and sexual authority are the rule.  

Although hard-bitten feminists dismiss romances as treacly nonsense and their readers as unevolved and ignorant, the genre accounts for more than thirty percent of all fiction, its readers are almost entirely women, and that readership is spread equally through age groups.  The costume favorite of little girls is still the princess, and despite the frilly fantasy, it is the first belief in the enduring myth of Sir Lancelot and the knights of the round table.

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Bobby, although he would never admit it, had had his serial affairs with complaisant, young women.  He, a very typical male was indifferent if not chary of any romantic involvement, while the women he courted were, one after the other, tearfully attached.  These were women from The Movement’s core constituency – young, highly educated, sensitized, aware, and upwardly mobile – and yet they could not resist emotional involvement.  They were still Daddy’s girls, admiring, needy of male affection, and insistent on permanence.

‘Residual affection’, said Bobby's female colleagues.  While there might be some women who still were vulnerable to male charm and fatherly attention; and many more still brought up in the Prince Charming mode of daughterhood; and even more reading sentimental claptrap, this was only indicative of a transitional phase of resistant sexual immaturity. Sooner or later all women would get the picture, would toss the princess costumes in the trash, give up on soppy romances, and get real about their unique man-less destinies.

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Yet Bobby could not get rid of the niggling doubts that these gender-focused women in The Movement had it wrong.  That they were unable to disaggregate progressive causes and became tools rather than instruments.  According to the progressive canon, issues of race, gender, ethnicity, and economics were all part of the same philosophical premise – a determination that a well-defined, utopian future was indeed possible; and that narrow, sectarian, outmoded conservative enterprises would cease to exist.

Such fealty to a universal principle, he reflected, distorted rational judgement.  Tautology was the rule.  Sexual equality is good because equality is good; and there is no more reason to probe the dimensions of sexuality.  No reason to read Lawrence, Flaubert, Stendhal, Henry Miller, or Shakespeare.  Sexuality is a closed book.  Received wisdom. Settled science.

Because of The Movement’s eclectic universality – all social causes valid and all activists welcome in the Big Tent – the obverse was true.  Apostasy in one area would be tantamount to apostasy in all of them; and he would have to lift the tent flap and exit.

Bobby was not one to keep quiet about his concerns; so avoiding the ‘feminist issue’ and investing lost gender enthusiasm in environmental, racial, and economic issues was not workable.  The tightly-woven fabric had been rent; and once it had all he could see was torn cloth.

As logic, experience, and objectivity would have it, the rent in the gender cloak extended like the lines of a broken window to all causes.  Every one of them had been looked at, treated, and promoted with myopic, self-interested, and nakedly political ambition.

So, out of The Movement he went, and although it was hard to pull the Republican lever in November, he did.  It was a liberating moment, like going to confession laden with sin after a long absence.  He was a ‘revert’, a man who had been brought up in a solidly conservative, privileged family of wealth and lineage; but who had gotten distracted by the allure of engagement and ‘making a difference’.  Now, he was back to his roots; and once he had taken the step, all progressive notions of goodness and righteousness were sloughed off like bad skin.  He was his own man again.