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

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Keep Those Nasty Immigrants Out - Biden's Craven Election Year Volte Face

'Let 'em in', said the President to his senior staff on Inauguration Day 2021. 'Diversity is good for America', and with that fell swoop, the doors to all comers on the southern border were thrown open. 

It seemed like a good idea at the time.  The President had been elected on a rush of good feeling - at last the country would be out from under the yoke of The Demon Of Fleet Street, the bloodletting barber of Washington, the former President, Donald Trump. It was not only Joe Biden who was being inaugurated but  a new era of compassion, ethnic and racial collegiality, and a bright new future. The country would be filled with brown- and black-skinned people seeking a new home and a new life in the land of opportunity. 

 

It turned out to be a bit less of a rosy state of affairs when tens of thousands of free riders crossed the Rio Grande to El Norte where, their cousins had told them, accommodation in four-star hotels, all expenses paid, and the finest amenities awaited them. 

The Border Patrol was incidental as all conditions, codicils, and caveat were lifted by presidential order.  A few bad apples might be rolling around loose in the bottom of the freedom busses headed north, but how rotten could they be? All in all, the waves of immigration would flood the land with deserving people, eager for a chance to live life as it should be led, not in the abject poverty forced on them by corrupt political regimes. 

Of course this was all nonsense.  Immigrants from the worst, rat-infested, drug-running, pestilential slums, ex-combatants from bloody civil wars, gang-bangers from Managua and San Salvadoran slums, on-the-run Amazon terrorists from Brazil, crooked Argentinian Bernie Madoffs, and Quechua Indian thugs all came running. The Biden policy was the best thing that ever happened to wannabee wetbacks who could now cross over without fear of La Migra.  It was a free lunch with all the fixin's. 

The mayors of sanctuary cities called foul.  We never intended to be everybody's soup kitchen. Compassion has its limits.  Few New Yorkers wanted to house Mara Salvatrucha gang members, and when tacos, beans, and rice were elbowing out pastrami, lox, barley soup, and onion rolls, enough was enough.

The economy showed some upward blips - fast food chains had a limitless supply of cheap labor, and upscale neighborhoods saw prices drop for nannies, leaf-blowers, and house-painters - but the cost of housing the undocumented thousands far exceeded the minor economic boon to the service industry. 

Then came the election year, and the President was hurried to the border.  The American people, in a shameful display of retrograde right wing behavior was turning its back on the needy, the desperate, and the hopeless, and they needed their president now.  Even dyed in the wool Upper West Side Jewish liberals were having second thoughts. They now wanted no more brown-skinned freeloaders in their necks of the woods. 

'We love you', the President said, waving his arms in an air-kiss gesture from El Paso across the Rio Grande to the Latino homeland.  His closing of the border was only temporary to give time to prepare more properly for new arrivals.  It had nothing to do with tacos or enchiladas, but logistical order.  

'You will always be welcome here', the President went on, 'today, tomorrow, and forever'; but nonetheless the border doors once again clanged shut, KEEP OUT! signs replaced rainbow ones, and Dobermans and Pit Bulls patrolled the lines in place of Labs and Portuguese Water Dogs. 'We mean business', the President said, 'but not necessarily you'. 

 

Politics is a venal business in the best of times.  Promises are made and never kept, assurances go by the wayside, and good intentions are left on the curb; but this volte face, this complete turnabout in policy was stretching the limits of disbelief.  Was the most enthusiastic, committed supporter of open immigration now ready to turn the Pit Bulls on the crowd? let them founder and drown, turned back by jackbooted American storm troopers? 

Anything to get re-elected; anything to turn the tide and to reverse abysmal poll numbers; yet this time the American electorate was not falling for such bald election year tomfoolery.  The man is nuts, more and more Americans were saying.  Time for the old coot to go. 

Biden's handlers knew that spinning the border reversal would be a challenge, but after all, 'temporary restraining orders' were well known to abusive husbands and stalkers, and so in play here.  Good people in need of some vetting, they said, sifting the best and the brightest from the chaff, finding the diamonds in the rough.  

The Vice President, named by the President to be his chief interlocutor and Border advisor on immigration policy cackled her way to a park bench while she dithered and demurred; but his advisors thought that now was her time.  A Biden re-election meant an automatic Harris presidency no more than a year into office, so all the more reason to tout her credentials.  

"I am one of you", the Vice President said to that invisible caravan coming north to the border.  "I am a woman of color, child of immigrants, a person on the march, a doer, a shaker, and an American of the people".  Here she spread her arms in an airy embrace of all those comers, still in the Sonoran desert but soon to arrive. 'Solidarity! Solidarity! Solidarity', she shouted, laughing, smiling, and nodding.  "La lucha continua" and with that she was shuttled off stage and back into the anteroom of power 'where she belongs' said one advisor, suspicious and disbelieving of her airhead performances and disingenuous people talk. 

So the Kammy and Joe Show lit up the lights for a while until he stumbled and she veered and wandered into some melancholy, diverse landscape.  'Get them both out of sight', another handler suggested with more vim than ever before; but like battery-powered toys they kept on talking, making no sense, fooling no one, and paving way for a second Trump presidency 

"They are not immigrants", said the President.  "They are already Americans in hope and spirit, and we welcome them....although not right now and not immediately, but certainly" and before those last words had drifted off into the soft Texas breeze, the election was lost.  The doddering old fool was history. 


Wednesday, February 21, 2024

No To The Other Side Of The Tracks - Diversity Is Just A Casual Affair

'What's over there?', Betty Jane asked her mother about Wofford Square, a no-no neighborhood across the tracks of the B&O railroad.  "It's not for you, dear", her mother replied. 'A lot of ticky-tacky, ramshackle houses, all cinder blocks and unpleasant things.  Stay on this side'; and so it was, of course, that Betty Jane in time crossed the tracks and met up with Angelo Pozzi, son of a factory worker and because of him spent nine months at the Convent of the Little Sisters of Mercy in Middletown until her ratty, dark-haired baby was born. 

'I told you so', said her mother.  'Now, what are we going to do with it?', meaning the baby whom nobody seemed to want.  Perhaps if it had been blonde and blue-eyed like her daughter, she might feel differently, but this...this darky...was unconscionable.  'Her wonderful husband is fighting the Japs', was the mother's story, and one day he would be lost in Mindanao and Betty Jane would begin her life again. 

The other side of the tracks was not a bad place, lots of garlic and yelling, people trying to make a go of their new life in America.  There were of course good reasons why it was a no-fly zone for girls from the West End, country day school girls off to Miss Porters and Vassar. They would never find their Paddington Harris III of the Vineyard Haven and Beacon Hill Harrises there, have blonde, blue-eyed children, and live on the North Shore. 

As it turned out, the child turned out all right.  There must have been some decent Etruscan genes in Angelo's DNA to match Betty Jane's patrician, English ones.  She had found good social cover for him in a marriage to a confirmed bachelor, a good man happy to be free at last from a hectoring mother and maiden aunts, and indifferent to the nature and origins of young Potter. 

It all should have never happened in the first place.  'Stick to your own kind' were the wise words of Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story, and had young Betty Jane realized that there was no future across the tracks, no possible cross-cultural accommodation in the cards, and no reason whatsoever to leave her people, she would have been better off.  There is always trouble brewing when you stir someone else's pot. 

The remake of Bernstein’s original, faithful to theme, music, and lyrics attempted to make the story one of today – all traces of racial and ethnic stereotypes removed and the upbeat, happy ending emphasized.  Although we may cling to outdated notions of cultural and racial separatism, we will eventually realize our common humanity and such divisions will disappear.

Nor in a coon's age – history records the persistent identity of tribes, clans, religious sects, communities, states, and nations. Although recent DNA analysis has shown that homo sapiens did interbreed with Neanderthals, the two ‘racial’ groups tried to kill each other off.

Why is this lesson so hard to accept? Don’t birds of a feather flock together? Don’t they peck at the intruder until he leaves?

American Indian tribes fought each other to the death. African tribes slaughtered each other and used captured warriors as currency. Chinese dynasties rose to power after battles with pretenders and likely enemies.

Yet stirring the pot and sampling the soup has always been tempting.  Thomas Jefferson was not just anxious to get out of the hen house for while, but was curious.  What would sex be like with a girl who just a few years ago had been toting water in an African jungle and sold on the block for more than able field hands because of her native charm and beauty.  Who wouldn't jump at the chance? 

Romans loved the taste of Nubian women, Louis XIV favored peasant girls from Bretagne, and the alliances of Imperial Europe were not just for political reasons but sexual curiosity. A little on the side has been a staple forever - a tasty smorgasbord far more inviting than coq au vin no matter how well prepared. 

 

Yet these kings, courtiers, and American presidents, for all their dalliances and sexual curiosity, stuck with the program, followed the script, and assured the purity of their line.  We think of Martha Washington and Abigail Adams, not the concubines and mistresses of the Low Country and New Orleans. 

Of course such sexual libertinage has never been a one-way street.  Women have been just as tempted by sexual curiosity and appeal as men.  Adulteresses are common literary fodder. Emma Bovary married well but unhappily, and yet she only thought she knew the balletic moves of the aristocracy.  Lady Chatterley's desire for sexual mutuality was satisfied by Mellors, but it was their milieux that divided them in the end.  Anna Karenina got her comeuppance for straying, as satisfying as the relationship with her Don Juan had been. 

 

The point is of course not that well-to-do-women find sexual allure in strange places, but that all women do, and they are only more limited than men in their adventures because of a persistent lack of social countenance for their sexual energy.

Everyone sticks together – white people, black people, gay people, professionals, wealthy people – but as long as they are productive, responsible members of the community at large, there is no reason to disrupt this natural, millennia-old tendency of likes to group with likes. There is no demonstrable advantage, profit, or gain from forcing socio-cultural integration.  Too much has been made of sharing experiences of unlike people – encouraging white, wealthy residents to look into the lives of dysfunctional black ones makes no sense at all. 

Raves were popular in the 90s because they brought all types together.  Private school girls from Georgetown and Spring Valley danced with yobs from Gaithersburg but married boys from Yale. Diversity is only a casual affair. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Bidenesque - Being Not Quite President While Little Miss Muffet Waits In The Wings

'God knows he's suffered enough', said Jill Biden to her aide-de-camp, concerned about the constant press reminders of her husband's mental health; but there was nothing she could do about his lapses, stumbles, and losing his way.  She tried - even sudoku and crossword puzzles - but nothing seemed to work.  He wandered, wanted to be read to, and was helped through his day by an attentive staff, teleprompters, and a clean desk. 

 

That last item was a godsend, for the President, when faced with sheafs of briefing papers just stared at them, shuffled them from one corner of the Lincoln, polished mahogany desk to the other, knowing there was something in them he had to look at but without the get-up-and-go to do so.  'Just remove them', Jill suggested to the President's Chief of Staff.  

Although she hesitated to make the allusion, she remembered how Ronald Reagan always had a clean desk.  His litany - patriotism, a small government, a strong military, private enterprise, and God - had earned him two terms and the love of the American people. 'A Shining City On A Hill' was what people remembered when they thought of the President and his reference to the Bible and the greatness of the Republic. One unique selling point.  Advertisers since snake oil salesmen knew this. 

But of course Joe had no such a succinct vision.  He was for the black man, gays, the environment, women; and a hundred other causes and issues - one big potpourri - with no real focus.  Adlai Stevenson was on the right track.  He was for the 'little man', and Herbert Hoover promised 'a chicken in every pot', but Joe got all tangled up when he began to speak, transgender this, pipeline that, Black History Month and Ukraine, and everything came out blah and indistinct. 

Oh, how he tried, but he raised his voice at exactly the wrong times.  His cadence did not match his words.  'If, when, but, and however' got the drumbeat and Putin, Kim, and oil got lost in a garbled mumble. No matter how everyone tried, they simply could not get the President to focus. 

He was becoming 'Bidenesque' a loose assemblage of old memories and past causes.  He meant well, and did have some of the compassion he talked about, but that was somehow linked to puppies and lost kittens; and he could never gin up the same feelings for The Black Man whom he knew he was to praise, reflecting on his tribal innocence, natural wisdom, and racial purity but could not.  

He simply couldn't shake the image of bling, Uzis, and the empty storefronts of the inner city, and each time he started in on the Black Man's position at the top of the human pyramid, he got lost 'in the sands of time', at the real pyramids, the Nile, and Nefertiti - the beautiful Nefertiti, now there was a woman! 

'He's only being Bidenesque' was the meme around the White House, the kindest, gentlest way of referring to the empty suit that sat in the Oval Office, 'a well-meaning, kind, elderly man with a poor memory', the characterization of the Special Counsel who referred to him in a document meant to exonerate him for wrongdoing in the misplacement of Top Secret files. 

'Let him be', said his Vice President, a greedily ambitious woman who knew that as long as she could prop up the old man for another few months, he would be re-elected, drop dead in his second term, and the Presidency would be hers.  As long as Biden was asleep in the Oval Office and not making matters worse by trying to make sense in public, she was safe. 

Out and about she was as toadying as could be.  Mr. President this, Mr. President that, holding chairs for him like a zoot-suited waiter at a fancy restaurant, fawning over him, loving him to death while all the while plotting like Clytemnestra and Tamora to get rid of him.  

She had long ago begun to form her own shadow campaign staff, young men and women with absolute faith in her ability speak for the nation, as a black woman  the embodiment of the progressivism the President could only talk about.  She would be the new Black Athena, a racial and gender firebrand putting the likes of Uncle Tom Obama far in the rear view mirror.  Hers would be the first real revolutionary presidency which would put diversity and inclusivity aside in favor of radical street justice.  She would shed her straight locks and goofy smile and go ghetto. Oh, what she would do! 

Yet closeting the President for the final eight months of the campaign year was not going to be easy, and even 'being Bidenesque' was far too dangerous.  There had to be a way to completely shut the fool up, but how?

The first move was to go toe to toe with Jill Biden who refused to acknowledge the President's dementia and wanted him out front and strong.  She needed to be put in her place.  After all she was a political non-entity, a cipher, a nothing in the dog-eat-dog world of Washington; and here she was pushing the old man off a cliff.  She meant well - the perks of First Lady would be nice for another four years - but what about the country?  She was too dumb to think beyond the wooden desks of her one-room schoolhouse Doctor Biden mentality. 

The President left the Oval Office sans retinue, escaped without handlers, alone and waving to no one in particular until an aide caught him in mid-stride and shepherded him into the cloak room, holding him firmly by the elbow until help arrived.  'How are you this morning, Mr. President', she said. 

'Which President?', Joe replied thinking she was referring to Washington or Lincoln just honored on the three-day weekend just past, and she buzzed for help, but even White House aides needed a break and forgot in their chatter to look up at the monitors in the cafeteria which would have shown grandpa wandering down the halls.

'This is not good', the Vice President said to her staff while thinking of baby tethers and car seats, anything to keep the man in place only for a few months.  And all this concern about a wayward President took time and effort away from her own plans for her future Presidency.  'Why can't the bloody fool sit still?', she yelled to the Ladies Room mirror. 

Now, ambition in a severely limited woman is not a pretty sight, and she couldn't see how wobbly and unhinged she was becoming She cackled at everything, bullied her way onto one-on-one television interviews where she made no sense at all, just cackling and meandering until the thankful end of the hour.  Even her most ardent supporters began to question her prospects.  While they would never admit this publicly, what on earth were they doing behind such a clueless clown?

So the West Wing was a mess - a dotty, doddering President, a crazy-as-a-loon, desperately ambitious Vice President, and a dimwitted First Lady. 

In Washington nothing stays private for long, and the conservative press quickly got wind of the Kamala-Jill catfights, the growing dementia of the President, and the Goneril and Regan plotting of the Vice President to send old Joe out on the heath to die.  They had a field day, and the American public, despite fear of Donald Trump, voted No Mas and the Biden era happily and finally came to an end. 

It all goes to show that power doesn't so much corrupt but only makes men act silly; and the Grand Guignol, Punch and Judy, vaudevillian show at 1700 was a jolly affair indeed.  It all ended on January 20, 2025 with the inauguration of Donald Trump.

Monday, February 19, 2024

American Politics - The Fine Art Of Bluster, Nonsense And The Rise Of A Progressive Star

Bobby Benson had grown up poor but advantaged.  His father was in the aluminum siding and encyclopedia business, and he accompanied him on his door-to-door calls. These bilking scams were part of the American entrepreneurial repertoire until the Seventies when they were outlawed.  'Buyer Beware' was not good enough to cover the silver-tongued, persuasive, engaging homilies and entreaties of Bobby's father who could get people to sign up for a thousand-dollar set of Britannica, no money down, one a month from A to Z, with interest, until they forfeited, the Indonesia knock-off books repossessed, and money in the pocket.

 

The aluminum siding business was even more lucrative - find a family deeply mortgaged in a dilapidated single family with roof rot and foundation problems and offer them a makeover in aluminum siding, guaranteed for a lifetime, painted and bossed for free.  Their house had been chosen to be a model for the new generation of siding, and 10 percent of the value of every neighboring family's new purchase would be passed on to them for free.

Of course no siding was ever put up, and all monies were absorbed for 'administrative costs' and parceled out to Bobby's father and his Newark crew to sell more phony contracts. 

Bobby's father was a genius at sales promotion. In his pitch he played on every parent's hope for Harvard, cloyingly, persuasively thumbing through the hardbound volumes to read about Aztecs or Zapotecs and digress into geography and cultural history.  No home could be without a complete set of books, guaranteed to raise IQ, intellectual interest, and academic ambition.

Satisfaction guaranteed, he always added unnecessarily since as usual the homeowner had taken the bait hook, line, and sinker and begged for more - special siding for a brother, a set of books for a cousin, until Bobby's father's order book was out of pages. 

Bobby was there to add 'dimension' to his father's pitch.  A bright young boy who had benefitted from the set of Britannica could sell books on his own, but as a member of the father-and-son tag team, he helped take home thousands. 

So it was not surprising that Bobby went into sales, first retail, then wholesale, and eventually into financial instruments, complex bundles of mortgages, securities, bonds, and commodities that made millions for his Wall Street investment firm. After selling fictional, never-to-be-built siding to Down Neck pipe fitters, getting rid of devalued but 'promising' securities to eager online customers was as easy as pie. 

Selling came naturally to him, and thanks to his father who never once looked back on a scam with regret or remorse, who not only believed in Caveat Emptor but 'A Sucker Is Born Every Minute', both complete exonerations of every sketchy scheme thought up by Wall Street or down home.  What was sales, after all, but selling a product which nobody needed, convincing them they did, and making millions from the deal?

Advertising was a fungible business - admen went from socks to Entresto in the blink of an eye.  Whether apparel or pharmaceuticals, there were consumers who never knew they needed them.

Bobby's father was not the first in the family to make money from unregulated sales.  His great-grandfather Hiram had made a fortune from Johnson's Elixir, a snake oil derivative claimed to cure gout, rheumatism, and jittery nerves.  Marketed especially to women, the Elixir had erectile properties and when put in the coffee of diffident spouses would do wonders for their sex lives. 

His uncle had been a master of what had pejoratively been called Ponzi schemes but which were actually pure entrepreneurism - programs which encouraged 'economic pyramids', great schemes of shared upward value; dynamic, highly mobile and transferrable assets which would make everyone rich. 

'You should go into politics', said a colleague at Baxter, Burnham & Ross; and Bobby admitted that the thought had crossed his mind.  How could selling ideas to the American public be any different from aluminum siding or creative financial instruments? Ambition, a silver tongue, and a way with women were all that had ever been needed door-to-door, on the Street, or in cyberspace.  He was made for the job and through Washington connections, he made his first foray. 

He had patience but he was a comer, so up through the ranks he went, through county seats, to legislative assemblies, and finally to Washington as a member of the progressive alliance, a group of radical environmentalists, feminists, and racial reformers whose new manifesto claimed the future. 

Bobby could have gone either way, Left or Right, conservative or liberal, but thought that progressivism lent itself best to his particular skills.  It was by nature idealistic and unconcerned by the record of a a discredited history.  No proof was needed that the old ways of individualism, capitalist exploitation, and imperial rule had given the world nothing but misery; and that the new millennium of progressive vision would erase all that had come before to inaugurate the Year Zero of hope and promise. 

 

What could be more suited to a true salesman than progressive politics?  Selling a vision and a Utopian ideal was right up his alley.  Facts, figures, and the archival record of past investments, programs, and initiatives were supernumerary, incidental trip-ups of history.  If he could sell aluminum siding, he could sell the American people on the political version of A Child's Garden Book of Verse. 

And so it was that Bobby's cash registers rang and his campaign chests filled.  He was a master of purposeful elocution.  His stump speeches were masteries of allusion, reference, and innuendo. His sense of timing, phrasing, and emphasis practiced in the parlors of Newark and the offices of Wall Street served him well; and before long he was feted, in demand, and loved. 

Of course as a true American huckster, he had no commitment to the progressive program - it was simply the best suited for his brand of facile promotion - and he certainly had no intention of staying on the field until time, but it was a good go, an extremely profitable enterprise.  Most of the monies in his coffers were from his various PACs, so they were fungible and almost without restriction; so while in Washington he led the good life and was able through some creative investments find ample and reasonable financing for homes in Aspen and Palm Beach. 

When to the dismay of his colleagues he retired from public office and took his sizeable fortune to the Bahamas, the Cote d'Azur, and Gstaad, he was as satisfied as anyone could be.  He had been a good legatee of Lincoln whose inspiration about American gullibility had made him millions and at the same time was a patriotic citizen who honored and never once demeaned American can-do enterprise

Bobby was a man of his times, his place, and his culture - a real American, unashamed of his snake oil, Ponzi scheme, shell game, aluminum siding past, recognizing it as the popular foundation of wealth and opportunity, and above all the greatest game on earth.  How could anyone gifted with a silver tongue and without moral traces, be unhappy?

Sunday, February 18, 2024

The Russians Militarize Space While The US Putzes Around On Mars - What Were We Thinking?

In the movie Dr. Strangelove the Russians have built a 'Doomsday Machine', a cluster of buried bombs set to detonate automatically should any nuclear attack strike the country. The resulting nuclear fallout would then engulf the planet for 93 years, rendering the Earth's surface uninhabitable. When a  rogue American nuclear bomb hits Russian territory, the Doomsday Machine will explode, annihilating the planet.  

 

Stanley Kubrick made the movie during the Cold War, at a time when both the United States and Russia were armed to the hilt with nuclear missiles, all pointed at each other and ready to be launched at the drop of a hat.  Optimists said that such guaranteed MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) was the only reason the two countries did not go to war, while pessimists claimed that the arms race had brought the world closer to disaster than ever before.

There followed decades of disarmament and nuclear stockpiles were reduced but never decommissioned; and given the explosive power of just one hydrogen weapon, the chance for mutual annihilation seemed only  to have receded not disappeared.

Fat chance. Russia has now deployed nuclear weaponry in space and aimed it at New York, so tit for tat will begin again with plenty of room to make the generals on both sides happy; but what was the US thinking? and why has it been so busy putzing around on Mars looking for life when the real action is just a few miles off-planet. The only hope is that the inevitable war will be galactic between fully automatic space armadas, but that too is just whistlin' Dixie when the temptation to shoot downward will be hard to resist. 

Bob Muzelle had cut his teeth on the peace movement of the Sixties, and although complete detente was never achieved, at least the levels of parity were reduced.  In other words, complete annihilation would simply take a bit longer.

Bob was heartened by this spirit of bilateral cooperation between formerly implacable enemies. If such an agreement could be reached, then even more ambitious goals of world peace might well be achieved in his lifetime.  And so it was that peace morphed into civil rights which morphed into climate and all were fitted into the big tent of progressive values.

So it was with sadness that Bob, now an old man with more of life in his rear view mirror than on the road ahead, read the news of the Russian space deployment which was ironically on the same page of the Times as pictures of the Mars Rover, making its way back and forth across the surface of the planet poking and prodding, sifting and analyzing in hopes of finding life.

Bob had been an enthusiastic supporter of the space program because of its humanitarian, scientific, and intellectual promise.  'It can't happen again', he replied to cynics who said the US was only interested in militarizing space, and sending rovers here and there only helped perfect launch angles, trajectories, and soft landings.  Yet, here it was on page 3 above the fold. The Russians had pulled their nukes out of storage and put them a scant 250 miles from Earth.

 

Most Americans were too young to remember Sputnik and how the Russians beat us into space, and how our landing on the moon was a triumphant victory over the Reds far more than a technological achievement, and how the space race was the logical outcome of the adventure. 

Influence came and went, the Soviet Union collapsed, and Francis Fukuyama declared the end of history, but it hasn't taken long for Russia to recover and show its imperial colors once again.  While we were dithering with inclusivity, diversity, and gender, tending to inner society's needs while the rest of the world took advantage of our naïveté .  Of course, they say, there will be another major war, of course it will take place in part in space, and of course no holds will be barred. 

Ronald Reagan accelerated the downfall of his old nemesis, the Soviet Union, through a massive buildup of the American military to which the Russians had to respond, thus putting even more pressure on a failing socio-economic system.  Vladimir Putin knows that even if the missiles in space are not used for a while, they will disrupt the self-righteous, self-assured, desperately naive United States and force anti-progressive investments in war. 

 

So Bob once again donned his cleats and pads and went back onto the field.  He might be old and fading, but his fires had not gone out, only banked.  His country needed him more than ever. 'Give peace a chance', he shouted in a reprise of 1963 when he and the Reverend William Barnes Loughlin marched on the national Mall, demonstrating for nuclear disarmament.  Of course such liberal blandishments were music to Russian ears.  Once more the American giant was retreating into a Robert Louis Stevenson Child's Garden Book of Verse world, reading The Land of Counterpane instead of Churchill. 

Images of the Mars Rover, picking, pecking, and rolling its way over the Mars landscape were seen throughout Russia with the accompaniment old Soviet-style newsreels of bustling arms factories, launching rockets, and smiling spacemen. 

President Biden, thinking that all he had to worry about was Ukraine, was shaken by the news. The Jews were causing him immeasurable trouble in the Middle East; the corrupt Zelensky regime was sucking billions of dollars in military aid to keep the country afloat for just a few more months; the Iranians, delighted that no one was stopping their disruptive, canny proxy wars, were stepping up activities in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon; and that pesky fat bugger in Pyongyang was acting up yet again.  

And now this. Russian nuclear missiles in space.  What to do? It was an election year and his base, died-in-the-wool old liberals and young idealistic progressives wanted peace, cooperation, and consensus in a peaceful, verdant world. 

There was nothing he could do.  All the sanctions, threats, and attempts at intimidation over a nasty little war in Ukraine amounted to nothing.  Putin has continued the war, neutralized his opponents, and consolidated a hold on power.  The only recourse would be to defund the Rover and put billions into a nuclear, militarized space program.

Biden tested the waters, but his claques, too busy with their parochial issues of transgender rights and the Pinnacle of the Black Man enterprise were uninformed and unconcerned.  Space was certainly not a good campaign talking point and war with the Russians even less. 

'Do it before Trump gets re-elected', advised one of Putin's top military advisors knowing full well that the big man would be a royal pain in the ass, would do a Ronald Reagan and bet the store on space weaponry, and would not hesitate to pull the trigger.  

So Putin is amping up his space program, unconcerned that his investments are very public while Joe Biden is still trying to figure out what goes where and how to make sense let alone lead a nuclear counter-insurgency.  

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Free At Last - Washington Hookers Out Of The Closet And Diversity Completed

Lucinda Shepherd had been a Las Vegas chorus line dancer ever since she was discovered, quite by accident and good fortune, by Abe Saperstein, theatrical agent, impresario, and Times Square fixer who knew a good thing when he saw one; and he knew that the girl bringing him lox and bagels at his table, was it.  

A perfect fit, dimly bright enough to learn the routines, pliable, eager, and with enough spirit and energy to do the Can-Can numbers the casino featured in its reprise of the Moulin Rouge, but not smart enough to do much else. Abe had read somewhere that Greyhound bus drivers were chosen with just enough intelligence to shift gears, but not enough to make their minds wander; and so it was with chorus girls. 

He had his come-on down pat - respectful, honest, and sincere.  He knew that girls like Lucinda who had come to LA hoping for Hollywood would be receptive.  He was not unattractive in a Jewish kind of way, the Arthur Miller type that Marilyn fell for after Joe, and and he had honed his introduction until it was as smooth and rich as Park Avenue. 

Of course he knew that he needed far less of the Cary Grant 30s foulard, double-breasted tailored suited charm to do the trick.  These girls were from the farmland, stubborn stock; but as long as they had that look  - that Victoria's Secret parted-lips, rosy tongue look - they would do just fine. 

She mumbled and shuffled a bit when he told her she would have to live in Las Vegas. Too far from her Mom, she said, but the buttered bread was too inviting, and all expenses paid, she was on the first flight west. 

Now, the casino where she was employed was not the Golden Nugget or the Sands; but it was Vegas and the opportunity of a lifetime, so she worked hard on the synchronized leg kicks, balletic turns, and the bum-up, pom-pom routines that had become a staple of the house.  She was a good learner, worked hard, and soon was comfortable with her pole position, head of the line, and first on stage. 

She had never suspected that her job would go any farther than the footlights; but when the manager singled her out for special assignment, she readily accepted.  A high-roller and major client of the casino wanted company for the night and had singled her out from among all the starlets and dancing girls in Las Vegas.  He was a good sort, the manager assured her, from Taiwan, and very wealthy; and she would be paid for her company. 

The manager had not lied nor exaggerated.  Mr. Chen was indeed a gentleman, courteous, respectful, and admiring; and when he suggested that their company take on a more intimate note, she readily agreed.  He was certainly far better than those piggy boys in Ohio, and she was no dope about these things.  Mr.  Chen might not be Mr. Right, but he was the first step - a very polished and accomplished one - towards her goal. 

She never knew what the fuss was about.  Sex was a routine affair, a matter of commerce regardless of whether money changed hands.  Barter or cash, women always had the dealer's hand, men were such suckers, so if she had a chance to make a profit for little effort, why not? She was not holding her precious, rosy flower for anyone in particular. 

One thing led to another, her reputation as a complaisant, willing, and generous lover preceded her, and she and the house made money.  Her career as a chorus dancer had stalled - she quickly found out that there was no way up and out from there, that Hollywood was a distant dream, and that she would drop in her traces before some better opportunity came along. 

She confided this to Abe who already knew of her extra-theatrical success thanks to the stage manager who had enjoyed her company and hoped that if she were to leave the show, he might be compensated for his loss.  Sex and dancing were businesses, after all. 

What would she say to a lucrative position in Washington, DC,  Abe asked her over drinks at the Lido, one which would put her in touch with the best and the brightest, the comers and influencers of the Nation's Capital? Just as she showed herself to be the most companionable sort for the likes of Mr. Chen, this offer would assure her friendship with la creme de la creme. 

Washington had always been a pay-as-you-go sex-for-hire town.  Despite Henry Kissinger's claim that power was the greatest aphrodisiac, the ugly old man was as often a frequenter of Mme. Arthur's establishment as any other Washington player.  Hers was a top secret brothel, one which guaranteed tight lips and young pussy and which made millions both from the most seasoned legislators and drop-in millionaires.  Hers was the only game in town. 

Her women could easily pass for Senate aides or House interns, appropriately tailored and proper, for those men who feared straying too far from their wives.  For the more fantastical minded, Mme. Arthur gave them tarts, S&M, and every possible variation on the gender spectrum.  Lucinda would not be required to do any leather if she didn't want to, so accommodating was Mme. Arthur; and she quickly accepted the offer with a considerable signing bonus, unheard of in those days, but much more common now that amateur athletes are being remunerated for their revenue-generating value. 

Her particular good fortune was that given the new, progressive diversity-equity-inclusion ethos, and given the desire to acknowledge all those Americans who had for far too long suffered the ignominy of exclusion and marginalization, prostitutes were now given their full due.  They were sex workers, no longer tarts and hookers, respectable members of the community engaged in a commercial enterprise equal to all others.  Not only could they ply their trade openly without fear of arrest, but they were entitled to generous federal benefits. Overnight, thanks to Congressional fiat, prostitution became the equal of investment banking; and about time. 

It was boom times for Mme. Arthur and the many spin-off wannabees in the capital. Now, clandestine only to the wives of the randy men who frequented them, these now legal brothels prospered as never before.  While some of their cachet disappeared with legality and recognition - many men like the idea of secret adultery - cash registers rang with the demand of johns from all segments of society. 

There was even a post-HIV/AIDS retro condoms-off policy at the higher-priced establishments.  The free market was at its best.  Sex was now a freely-traded commodity no different than pork bellies or frozen orange juice; and women like Lucinda were among the beneficiaries.  

Sure, she had to close her eyes at times - the junior Senator from Nebraska was a grizzled, warty, hairy backed offering - but all in all she banked enough to get off her back in years, not decades. 

Diversity wins! shouted the new Association of Midwestern Sex Workers whose photograph was taken with their gay, black, trans, and Latino brothers and sisters 'Hookers Rule' was another in the heady times of final sexual liberation. 

The White House was tempted, it was rumored, but never confirmed and doubted given the wobbly, unsure footing of the Chief Executive. 

Friday, February 16, 2024

Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman Scorned - The Myth Of Sexual Parity

In yesteryear, there was something vital about marriage.  It mattered.  A woman needed security, economic support, and defense.  A man needed a mother for his children, a keeper of the hearth, and a good worker.  The two sexes were never meant to agree, and romantic love was invented only in the 14th century.  The sonnets of Petrarch were the first recorded verses to sing the praises of one's beloved, and the medieval courts of Europe were venues for knights in shining armor and their fair maidens.  The poor, of course, stayed the course.  Marriage was an economic contract nothing more, negotiated and concluded simply and early.

 

The rules of sexual conduct for kings, queens, and courtiers were the same as those for the peasantry - men had to be sure that their wives were faithful, and women certain that their husbands would not stray.  The peasant had no time, energy, or will to work his fingers to the bone for someone else's child; and no king wanted a bastard on the throne after him.  

So jealousy - spousal control is perhaps the more apt term - has been common to marriage ever since the first contract.  Marriage has been a business proposition right from the start, and good businessmen and women first and foremost know how to protect their investment.  The pining for lost lovers, the sense of betrayal of love, honor, respect, and commitment have always been artificial, irrelevant sentiments which in modern times have spawned a profitable business of their own. Where would Turkish dizis and Mexican soap operas be without fantasy love?

 

The billions made from romantic television, novels, and comic books is surprising since, if one is to believe the statements of modern-day feminists, sexual equality has finally, or penultimately been achieved.  If a man strays from the nest, so be it.  Prenups and marriage contracts have made divorce simple and favorable to women.  There should be no need for jealousy, spite, and anger in today's marriages.  The door has always been left open, so the recriminations and nastiness of the past should be permanently gone.  

Under the new rules marriage itself need no longer be feted and promoted as it was in the past. Who needs it? 'Sexual association' is more appropriate for the evolved 21st century.  Love the one you're with, the old-fashioned meme of the Sixties, should make a comeback. 

Nonsense.  The soaps have got it right. Women still, despite everything, despite favorable contracts, codicils, and contracts; despite their notable economic potential and mobility, are as furious with wayward husbands as Guinevere was of Lancelot. Pissed, vindictive, and vengeful. 'How could you do such a thing to me?'

 

Obviously hardwired behavioral instincts, honed over time, cannot be excised so simply.  Women with no reason to feel scorned, abandoned, or left on the curb, still are; and wives take their pound of flesh in a thousand cuts from men every day of the week. 

Savvy men understand this and go about their business accordingly.  They know that despite the modern anointment of women, their ease of passage, and their growing social and economic independence, they are no different from their great ancestors of the Paleolithic.  Residual sentiments perhaps, but still in play. 

These men get it and know exactly how to maneuver, negotiate, and deceive under the new ethos just as they always have under the old. The front lines have gotten closer, skirmishes can quickly turn into firefights, and before long a sure thing is no longer; but men paying attention are as enthusiastic about the battle as the Russian soldiers at Borodino.  Better to die in glory than from an infected foot.

Savvy men know exactly how far to push the perimeter, how much leeway they have, how much of a grace period, how likely an easy forgiveness, and are in other women's beds in an instant.  They have practiced the art or hangdog, abject apology - such is the new art of adultery replacing the 'Shut up, woman' troglodyte bullying of the past - and get exactly what they want. 

Feminists say that thanks to them some of this vestigial machismo has been eroded or dismissed but this is just whistlin' Dixie.  Some men have fallen for the story of sexual revision, but most have not.  For every man attending women's conferences, marching on the Mall in lockstep with their sisters for equality and recognition, there are ten in lovers' boudoirs.  Human nature does not change, and the feminist ideal of eliminating gender differences is no more than an idle dream. 

Edward Albee, well-known modern American playwright, famously noted that 'marriage is the crucible of maturity'. Duking it out within the narrow confines of marriage is the only way to get to the heart of the matter, the elusive soul, to find out who you are.  Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf Albee's most famous play about a couple who 'flay each other to the bone' but after two hours of brutal bloodletting finally remove all artifice, unnecessary posture, and arrogance and see the truth.

Maybe this is all that can be expected of marriage.  Maybe that's why it persists.  The scorned woman stands for something - principle, rectitude, some basic honor; and a man's indifference is indicative of society's own, larger, duplicity. 

In any case, couples are parading to the altar at the same rate as always and the number of marriages per thousand women has barely budged in the past few decades.  Marriage simply won't go away, and as long as it exists, the same squabbling, suspicions, indifference, cheating, and umbrage will continue. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Cowboys And Indians - The Wild West, White Conquest, And The Perils Of Diversity

Indians are no longer called 'Indians' but Native Americans; and with the change has come an air-brushing of culture and history.  Manifest Destiny, that optimistic, fundamentally patriotic, ambitious program to expand the borders of the new republic from coast to coast, and which meant an American Empire - military conquest, settlements, fortresses, and absolute rule, has been erased.

 

The American Indians, however, were not as complaisant as were the Franks, the Gauls, the Britons, and the Berbers who agreed to mutually beneficial compromises as Roman armies moved to the east, west, and south.  The conquerors established far-flung administrative provinces, and in years of peaceful accord, infrastructure was built, cultural influence was assured, and in short measure ruled the world. 

 

The conquest of the American West was more like that of Genghis Khan and his Mongol/Turkic armies that marched and rode out of the Central Asian steppes in a brutal, bloody imperial campaign never before seen and witnessed rarely after.  

The Mongols were not after peaceful arrangements.  They were on an imperial mission, one of conquest and absolute domination.  It was a natural, human imperative - savage by Roman standards, but native to human history.  Tribes, clans, sects, and nations have fought with the same brutality and indifference to those conquered since the Paleolithic and long before. 

When Jefferson commissioned Lewis and Clark to explore, claim, and map the heretofore little known regions west of the Mississippi, he had empire in mind; and nothing but bad weather and Indians stood in his way.  There was nothing genocidal in the expulsion of native tribes.  They were, in the mind of 19th century intellectuals, a backward, less developed, primitive race, no different than that African slaves brought to America. ‘Manifest Destiny' was exactly what the name implied - the God-given, anointed mission of the white, newly democratic republic. 

While Genghis Khan might have encountered some resistance, he would have been surprised to have met the likes of White Wolf, the Comanche chieftain who used Genghis' very savagery to send a message to the white man.  The Mongol hordes impaled severed heads on spikes on the roads into conquered towns to let it be known that they were not to be denied; and White Wolf raped, dismembered, and disemboweled pregnant woman and their babies.  No white man would ever take over his land. 

The Indians encountered by the Union armies that pacified the lands to be cultivated by white settlers were just as determined, and only because of their lack of modern weaponry were they defeated.  It was a fair fight given the courage, bravery, and defiance on the part of the Indians and the anointed Westward expansion on the part of the army and its Washington supporters. 

There was nothing untoward or unusual about Jefferson's desire to create a vast American empire.  On the contrary, it was exactly what kings, emperors, shoguns, and tribal chieftains have always wanted.  'Wars are for winning' and lands are for taking have been the memes of all imperial regimes. The fiery destruction of Dresden and the nuclear annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are only the most recent example of human imperialism and the wars to deny it. 

Something happened to the United States after World War II.  It lost its absolute commitment to victory at all costs and replaced it with codicils, caveats, and conditions.  Wars were still for winning but not at any price. Civilian lives were important figures in the algorithm.  Humanity had to be served.  And so wars were lost - an ignominious retreat from Vietnam, the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the radical militias in Iraq, and the persistence of al-Shabab, al-Qaeda, and ISIS in the Middle East in Africa. 

 

The expansion of Islam to create a caliphate is the pedestrian version of Genghis Khan's imperial designs.  It will happen little by little, by erosion, fatigue, and persistence; but an expansionist enterprise it still is. 

All these imperial enterprises, whether the tribal loyalties of Turks and Mongols, the religious radicalism of ISIS, the territorial righteousness and defiance of the advancing Israeli army in Gaza, the Russian neo-czarist expansionism in Ukraine, have one thing in common - unity.  Whether religious or ethnic, these nationalists have always had a well-defined cultural center. 

Fighting for the expansion of Islam or the survival of the Jewish state is no different; or to ensure a Christian Jerusalem; or an Aryan subcontinent; or a universal Han-controlled China.  The historical and contemporary examples are endless.  The desire for conquest, expansionism, and territorial integrity are innately human. 

The United States, in its rush to embrace 'diversity' has split itself along racial, ethnic, and gender lines and created fissures. There is no longer one America, but a hundred enclaves, tribes, clans, of black supremacists, white colonialists, transgender absolutists, Latino and indigenous political cabals, reactionaries, and political Utopians. 

Ah, democracy at work say diversity apologists, a potpourri of difference, a tasty soup of ethnic variety, a tying of historical roots into one cultural fabric. 

To the contrary say those for whom history is their guide.  The breaking apart of the American polity is done at one’s peril.  Divided we fall, said Lincoln who had no inkling of the ways the country would disassemble but who was as right as rain.  We are a country of parochial interests, self-serving identity, and venal needs.

Patriotism, pride in a common ethos, is not possible. Any international conflict must be seen only through the lens of race, gender, and ethnicity.  There is no geopolitical, Machiavellian right or wrong; only what parses correctly given prevailing sentiments of harmony, inclusivity, and Utopian communitarianism. 

 

America is a political ship becalmed in irons - at least as far as its international ambitions are concerned - which means it has none.  A defensive posture at best, keeping Ukraine afloat for vague issues of 'democracy', on the fence with Israel and Hamas, and a few political, surgical strikes on terrorist basis in the Middle East, but no coherent plan.  It cannot have a coherent plan while the country is all about splitting itself into political parishes; so its opponents and enemies will take due advantage, especially in an election year with a very unstable, unsure President. 

The lesson of Manifest Destiny, westward expansion and political universality should not be forgotten and perhaps will be recalled during the second Trump presidency; but the damage done to the commonwealth has been serious enough to require a major overhaul.