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

Friday, July 19, 2024

When The Secret Service Pimped For LBJ - Now, That Was A Service Well Performed

Insider information has it that the tomcatting Lyndon Baines Johnson used his Secret Service detail to pimp for him.  A man of enormous appetites and a busy schedule couldn't be bothered with the niceties of sexual pursuit, so he had the handyman do it, and the men around him were only too happy to oblige.

 

Johnson was not the only one who espoused these sentiments and in fact was the role model for many politicians to come.  Eliot Spitzer, Governor of New York got himself involved in a prostitution scandal and had to resign his office, but insisted he had done nothing wrong, which of course he hadn't.  There was no law penalizing johns for their purchase of sex, and two consenting adults could do whatever they pleased in the bedroom. 

The public didn't see it that way.  No man in high office should consort with hookers, and should follow the example of John F Kennedy who bedded starlets, stars and the jewel in the crown, Marilyn Monroe.  Why couldn't Spitzer be more like Kennedy, a suave, sexy, persuasive young man enjoying his youth and the perks of office.

 

There was something smarmy and unsavory about this unattractive Jewish man rutting in the bridal suite of the Mayflower hotel when the dashing Kennedy squired his women in presidential style - on his yachts, at Camp David, and in the Presidential bed. 

So Johnson with the nation's business to do, the pillars of The Great Society to be erected, the war in Vietnam to be prosecuted, and the plight of the black man to be relieved once and for all, needed to have some pleasurable release at the end of the day or after breakfast for that matter.  The Secret Service men were with him at all times, sworn to a secrecy as inviolate as that of the confessional or the legal code of ethics, and quite willing to spice up their lives along with that of the President. 

Johnson had no particular preferences, according to the Secret Service reports unsealed after Johnson's death and the statue of limitations of the Freedom of Information Act, but liked variety and his annotated list was detailed and precise.  

'Get me a nice hot tamale for tonight', one agent remembers the President saying to him; or 'that sweet vanilla tart from South Carolina' or 'that Cajun cunt from New Orleans'.  He never went dark - that was too much for a Texan despite his commitment to the black man - and drew the line at olive skinned Latinos and the occasional Turk.

 

Readers of the Johnson chronicles were surprised at the diversity of the sex trade in Washington.  The Mexicans and Louisiana octoroons were expected, but a Turk?  Ceyda Demir was a half-Kazak half-Circassian line dancer from Istanbul who made her way to New York thanks to an international review.  She jumped ship, somehow got regularized with the INS, and moved to the profitable Washington market. 

She was a beauty, lovely Anatolian skin tone, slightly almond eyes, tall, full-bodied, and sensuous.  She immediately became the most sought-after girl in Madame Letelier's Foggy Bottom establishment; and one of LBJ's agents had heard of her through the grapevine.  She was too expensive for him, but would be a delectable, affordable snack for the President. 

'Speak Turkish for me', the President said to Ceyda, imagining her one of Sultan Ahmet's harem, the dancing girl of The Thousand and One Nights, a pasha's treasure; so she became one of his favorites, and the Secret Service Agent promoted in rank in thanks but kept on the Presidential detail - his  service  

The image of the Secret Service for so long heroic, selfless, and courageous (think Clint Eastwood in The Line of  Fire) has been recently tarnished after the failure to prevent the assassination attempt of former President Donald Trump, again candidate for the office.  They bungled the show completely, Keystone cops, the worst kind of mismanagement, bad intelligence, and horrible positioning; and thee have been predictable calls for a thorough critical review after which heads will roll. 

'Those were the days', said a long-retired Secret Service agent who had been in Johnson's detail.  'Now there was a man', he said of his President, snickering at the likes of Jimmy Carter and Joe Biden - one who prayed, the other who had long ago forgotten what went where and how.  No, LBJ was a mensch, a prowler, a man to be admired.  Yes, the agents in his protective service were dutiful and careful, but remembered most the girls many of whom the President shared with them. 

'America is a violent country', the nonagenarian retired agent reflected, 'but there should always be room for pussy'. 

The old agent's eyes misted as he remembered the salad years, the halcyon years, the best years of his life.  'There was this one time', the agent began, and proceeded to tell of how the President got liquored up and wanted a harem the centerfold, the piece de resistance would be Ceyda Demir and as many of her Kazak-eyed, coffee-colored friends she could find. 

Lo and behold, the Turkish Ambassador at the time had assembled his own stable of young women - the Turks were still mindful of the glories of Ottoman sultans and never demurred when it came to sexual delights - and professional colleagues being what they are, an unofficial lend-lease arrangement was concluded, Kazakh and Uighur women were recruited, and the biggest unreported party ever seen at 1700 Pennsylvania got underway. 

 

The press of course knew about it, but had been jawboned and muscled by the President.  'I expect you to keep your mouths shut just like you did with Jack', he warned them, and the midnight revelry continued until he finished his term in office. 

Now, all this is not to take away from the important responsibilities of the Secret Service no matter how well or badly they perform.  Someone took a shot at Presidents Garfield, McKinley, Lincoln, Kennedy, Ford, Reagan, and now Trump, so the vigil must be maintained, and the dreamy-eyed agent reminiscing about the greatest tomcatter of all never denied it; but still, there were those gorgeous women in a share and share alike time, one never to be repeated.  

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Two Straight White Guys At The Top Of The Republican Presidential Ticket - What???

What? Two white guys running for President and Vice-President?? Must be a mistake, some pathetic joke.  In this day and age?  In this pluralistic diverse world?  Two white straight men, as white as can be with not a trace of shame or apology.  All white, they were white, white everywhere on the podium. It was First Communion all over again, the Mormon Tabernacle choir, white until it was coming out your ears, white silk, white organdy, white, white, white...

The stage was decked with white chrysanthemums, white roses, and white azaleas, a white sport coat and a pink carnation, going to the hop in a white Cadillac.... A fantasia of white, a child's garden book of white, a white proscenium, white scrim, white everything except for the red and blue of the flag. 

Donald Trump, despite lawfare and the smarmy attempts to put him behind bars, escaped Scot free as one judge after another and the Supreme Court itself dismissed the charges against him exposing the witch trials for exactly what they were.  Then if that were not enough, the man gets shot and in a moment of pure, outlandish luck, he is caught in an iconic, heroic, patriotic image - bloodied, defiant, fists in the air.  

 

Finally, to add insult to injury - this white supremacist misogynistic homophobe picks a clone for a running mate - a man even more far right than he, but one with impeccable credentials - military veteran, Senator, Yale Law School graduate, and populist icon in his home state of Ohio.  Spitting in the face of the millions of brown and black men and women, millions more gay, lesbian, and transgenders who have finally been able to come out of the closet.

These two white men will put them back in, shut them up, keep them in chains and harnesses, untether them only to pick cotton and till the fields.  The black man's day has almost come.  He had been just at the rise of the steeple, near the top of the pyramid and along come two white slave masters, plantation grandees, miscegenist outlaws. 

 

Whoa! shouted the Reverend Al Sharpton for whom the selection of two white men was an implicit insult to black people everywhere. He pointed to a video of a Black Lives Matter street demonstration on the jumbotron behind him. 

Look at this! Look again. These black brothers and sisters are the future of America, its new leaders, the avant garde of a racial revolution in the country which will erase all vestiges of whiteness, white privilege, and European oligarchy. 

These two white men on the podium and the legions of their white supporters saw only a hectic, lawless, wild, inchoate mob who marched and stopped just long enough to break into CVS and come out with shopping carts full of cheap makeup and lip gloss.  There was no greater meaning here, not in this parade, nothing like MLK's march which white people joined.  This was a mess, a clown show. 

Blackness was The Second Coming.  Accommodation with the white man was capitulation, a shuckin' and jivin' toadying to Jim Crow and the plantation South.  It was time for a change to a black country with Mandinka tribalism, voodoo and drums. No more white.  Shutters would be black, houses black, darkness at midnight and noon.  

 

Nothing could have done more for the Trump/Vance campaign than the Reverend Al Sharpton and the howls from Black Lives Matter. Progressives upped the ante, firing up their badgering, accusing, belittling whites as gun-toting, backwoods, bass boat, pickup truck trailer trash. 

White people had put up with this caricature for years, seething at these prejudicial notions but intimidated by the rush to judgment, the received wisdom of 'systemic racism', the accusations of privilege and elitism.  Trump was a politician who in his populist vision responded in kind.  Reverse racism, he leveled at the Left. A scurrilous zero-sum game, black up, white down.  Now it was white time, straight white time. 

So Trump hatred, the meme of the Left since his appearance on the national scene in 2015, is being ratcheted up, if that's even possible.  Now that the ticket is complete, and the bloody racism of one man, Donald Trump has been doubled, the stakes couldn't be higher.  A Republican victory will mean years of racial pogroms the return of Jim Crow, The ghettoes will be swept by SWAT teams.  Baltimore, St. Louis, Detroit, and Washington will be no different from San Salvador or the favelas of Rio where paramilitary forces clean house, round up, and execute at will.  

The meme of the Biden campaign has been 'Democracy', how Trump will destroy it, and how he will save it; but now that the Republican ticket is complete, and the bloodied former President is ascendant and even more popular, such platitudes are not enough; and since none of the Left's attempts to demonize Trump have stuck, a full frontal assault must be launched.  In the three months remaining before the election, the two of them - Trump and Vance - must be destroyed. 

Everything would be linked to race since that, unspoken or not, was what the Trump team was all about. Their pro-life stance was nothing more than a white natalist ploy, to increase white demographic representation. Homophobia was nothing less than a stymie of non-reproductive love, giving prominence to the rabbit warren heterosexual fertility. Lower taxation meant enriching the already rich and enabling their continuing manipulation and oppression of the poor.  

Fewer regulations meant a return to Robber Baron era laissez-faire where powerful white men made millions on the backs of the poor European immigrants who fueled their factories.  Now it is the black man trodden under the heel of white capitalists.  Energy independence meant choking the inner city with noxious, deadly chemicals while the wealthy, sitting on the verandas of their airy summer homes on the Vineyard watch the smoke rise and curl over poor black neighborhoods. 

At each and every turn, the diversity Left was appalled by Trump appointments and suggestions for his Cabinet - all white men!  So called geniuses of Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs, investors, and economic innovators - they all made their wealth off the backs of labor, the exploitable, the weak, and the marginalized.  The so-called experienced, savvy veterans of the economic wars with China and the EU, Silver Star battlefield strategists, and brilliant legal minds were nothing but racial capitalist lackeys out to craft foreign policy and American jurisprudence to a conservative edge.  

Worse than this white tide was Trump's stated goal of eliminating most government agencies, and each one - Education, Health and Human Services, Labor and more - were all thinly veiled moves to deprive the black man of resources and federal support.  Gone would be welfare, self-esteem, food stamps, and entitlement money.  A new age of black suffering would be inaugurated. 

Of course this racial hysteria found no home, not even in the liberals of the East Coast who never liked hyperbole in the first place.  Upper West Side Jews bridled at the new political Wild Bunch - the claque of racial demagogues from insignificant Congressional districts. Theirs was a rabbinical, Biblical progressivism, no less committed and potent than that of the shills on Capitol Hill but much more reasoned and temperate.  Once these alte kockers got wind of the new attacks on Trump and Vance, they demurred. They too had had enough of black this, black that, Bernal Heights jackboots and flannel, black faces everywhere in some kind of weird neo-Bosch nightmare. 

So the two white men at the top of the ticket were on a roll and on their way to the White House.  As always the progressive Left was dumbfounded, nonplussed, incredulous.  'How could they?' They sputtered and fumed at each convention speech, at each promise that would derail the Utopia-bound train just gaining momentum. 'This can't be happening.  It just can't. After all we've done, after all we've tried'. As each white man walked up to the podium to speak, they cringed. 

'It's the end of the line', one said to another, sobbing on each other's shoulder.  Meanwhile the trumpets blared, the drums rolled, and the two white men smiled with gleaming white teeth as the bright, white stage lights brightened everything around them. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Hillbilly Elegy - How A Tarpaper Shack Bernie Madoff Conned Millions Out Of Frog Hollow

Randall X Plummer was born in Frog Hollow, a nasty little place deep in the coal hills of West Virginia, a place where the sun angled in for an hour at 2pm, and which, depending on the time of year, lit up either the pig stie, the chicken coop, or the front porch.  Randy's father, Alfonse, had given him Xavier for a middle name because he had prayed to St. Francis Xavier as a young boy, hoping against hope that he would deliver him, and somehow transport him far from this awful, penitential place where God had put him. 

 

He knew that such prayers were ironically sinful - praying to a saint for deliverance from God's plan - but still hoped. As the years went on, nothing ever changed.  The tarpaper roof needed repair, the pigs were slaughtered and sold, the chickens plucked and fried, and the wood chopped to keep body and soul together. Alfonse never wavered from his belief in salvation through good works, and kept up the yard work and mining coal while praying for divine intercession. 

Unfortunately his son, Randy, was as dumb as a stone and was more trouble than he was worth, spilling the chicken feed before he got to the run, splashing the pig slop all over the rabbits, and hacking and chipping the firewood without managing one, straight, usable log for the stove.  Alfonse never bothered sending him to school until someone from the school served him with 'dereliction of parental duty' papers, enforced truancy, and neglect. 

Outfitted in a new pair of overalls, hair gummed with Dr. Ed's pomade, boots sewn and retread as best as possible, Randall walked the five miles to school.  The principal didn't know where to put him, so many years had he lost, but arbitrarily tried the fourth grade.  Some remedial work would be necessary, but this seemed a reasonable match. 

Although Randy gave it a go and tried his best, the numbers and letters always seemed to be skittish ants crawling all over the page; and no matter how much he tried to make sense out of them, they always skittered and scattered whenever he opened his book. 

After a few months of this and before the Thanksgiving break, the school knew that they could do nothing more for the boy, and it would be senseless to try to drive something into his head and unfair to his parents who were barely making ends meet and needed him on the farm.  This wasn't New York City, and there were no bright lights in Frog Hollow, so bending the rules to let a boy return to pig slop and chicken feed did no harm and some good, and it wouldn't be the first time or the last. 

So the boy returned to his tarpaper home and to his daily chores, curtailed as they were by his father who felt it was better to do things himself than give them to his stumbling, hopeless son.  Now the boy might have been a dimwit, but he was not retarded, so he was no candidate for St. Elmo's, the home for the 'mentally impaired' run by the Sisters of Mercy.  He presented himself well, said 'Yes, ma'am, and No, ma'am', knew what day of the week it was, could build things with blocks and keep himself clean, so it was back to Frog Hollow for him. 

One day when he was sixteen or so, his father sent him into town for nails, lip blush for his mother, and cough medicine.  There at Rogers' Drug Store, he saw the red, white, and blue signs for the West Virginia Lottery, now valued at $100 million since week after week there had been no winning numbers 'Want to try your luck, son?', asked old Mr. Rogers who knew the boy from childhood, knew how dumb he was, and thought this might pick up his spirits.  'You might win'. 

Of course Randy had no idea what $100 million was and could barely count the bills and change his father had given him for the hardware and notions; but the ticket was only a dollar, and his father would certainly not mind. 

The next Saturday a shiny new Buick Riviera came banging up the dirt road to Frog Hollow, and out stepped two men and a lady all dressed up in suits and city finery.  'Where is Randall X Plummer?' the asked, almost in unison; and with that the life of Randy, his father and mother, and all of Frog Hollow changed.  Television crews from Wheeling came to visit, an ABC newscaster wanted an interview, and every politician from the county and all counties around dropped by for a look.  

Randall, of course, couldn't figure out what the fuss was all about.  He had never seen anything bigger than a five-dollar bill, had no bank account, no checkbook, and the check made out to him with some indecipherable numbers written on it could have been the receipt for the de-worming medicine he had forgotten to keep after his last trip to town. 

Of course everyone was there to see how much they could get of the $100 million.  There were those asking for campaign contributions, donations to The Cripple Fund and Friends of Liberty, New York types who introduced themselves as investment bankers, and one sharpie from St. Louis, a young man who had himself grown up in a place like Frog Hollow, but unlike Randy was the sharpest knife in the drawer, knew how to make his way in the world, found that his silver tongue and winning manner worked wonders with the ladies and rubes, and he became wealthy - always one step ahead of the law and jealous husbands - and became as adept as the Enron Five or Bernie Madoff in conning, bamboozling, and fooling his crowd, cracker, holler, backwoods people like the Plummers. 

He knew them, knew how to finagle, maneuver, and dance around their Sunday School principles, and although he never made a killing, i.e. one fell swoop millions - the small cons added up; but when he heard of Randall X Plummer, he knew his ships had come in.  He was one of them, a local, a hillbilly, a Coalminer's Daughter's Doolittle, and he was immediately trusted, unlike those New York types, shysters, investment instrument hawkers everybody shied away from.  No, once he stepped into Frog Hollow and saw Randy sitting on the front porch, he sighted him in and knew he had an easy prey. 

Owens had learned all there was about Ponzi schemes, credit swaps, and creative investment assets only on small scale.  He bilked his marks out of thousands, but learned the trade.  A little widow's mite disappeared just as easily in one of his airy pyramids as Bernie Madoff's millions; so when he got wind of Randy Plummer, he was ready to apply his trade and finally show the world what he was really worth. 

Once William Owens, the sharpie, climbed the steps to the porch where Randy and a flock of well-wishers were seated, Alfonse shooed them away.  Like attracts like, and from the first howdy-do, he knew one of his own had finally come to the rescue.  Uninvited to be sure, but this being Frog Hollow, invites were never necessary.  One took care of one's own, just like Arabs or Tuaregs in the Sahara. 

From then on pork belly barbecues, cornpone and greens, hickory coffee and cheroots became his go-to meals, all taken with the Plummers as he explained his no risk, high return investment schemes.  Once the government took its cut, why, there'd hardly be enough to feed the chickens, he said, so better invest and invest well.   So he took Randy's money, 'invested' it in his own offshore bank accounts, and went from holler to holler, county to county Madoffing one tarpaper shack family to another conning, duping, and promising until he was wealthy beyond his dreams.  Who said that genius was urban? Or Jewish? Or Yankee?

 

The revenuers never caught up with him, and Randy never saw a cent of his $100 million, but as far as he was concerned, nothing much had changed.  First, he was too dumb to know what happened to him, and second life was no different before the check and after - chickens is chickens as his father used to say - so no harm, no foul.  Except for Mrs. Plummer who was counting on some finery. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

The Shooting Of Donald Trump, Hero Ascendant And Victor - The Campaign Is Over


The one irrefutable rule of politics is that of the pendulum's arc.  No matter how convinced one partisan side may be of victory, permanence, and a golden future, the other side always rises to power, scuttles all former promises, blocks headway, and ushers in a new, righted world. 

For four years the liberal Democrats in America have been convinced that their time has come; that America will finally and once and for all jettison the old and march towards a new Age of Enlightenment. Only a radical remaking of society - the removal of all traces of its white, patriarchal, privileged past; and the establishment of a new order of social justice, diversity, and inclusivity - will do.  The time for gradual reform has had its day.  Nothing less that a structural reordering, a fundamental change from the bottom up will do. 

As with all true believers, the American Left with an arrogated moral rectitude and absolute conviction of the progressive vision, have become enforcers.  There could be no room for dissent in the assembly of a new world.  Ideas become absolutes - heterosexuality is a sexual concept among others, given to choice and change.  The black man, thanks to his forest origins and tribal purity, embodies the best of humanity and as such must be placed at the top of the human pyramid.  

The diversity of lesser races, cultures, and ethnicities is a higher order of social organization and as such must be encouraged and engineered to reformulate the white-dominated plutocracy of the country.  Capitalism must be dismantled to assure that America's wealth is shared equally. 

Just as the Early Church in the second and third centuries fought anti-Christian heresy, and did all within its power to root out those who challenged the received wisdom of Athanasius, Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory, so American progressives felt obligated to defeat and remove all heretical  movements against them.  They have become prophets of doom. 

 

Their resistance is not simply political but existential.  Those on the Right who challenge their Utopian vision cannot be allowed to exist.  The notions of civil plurality, equal say under the law, political diversity and electoral right have no meaning when faced with evil.  The abrogation of civil rights is nothing compared to the holocaust which will certainly come if Trump gains power. 

So over the last four years the Left has pursued their agenda on two fronts - first to promote their righteous claims of black superiority, the reordering of human sexuality, the forced racial and ethnic reconfiguration of society, and the economic transformation of an elitist capitalism to a universal, socialist one. 

Second to demonize the the political Right and its leader, Donald Trump.  In hysterical, wild, inchoate, and unhinged attacks, Trump has been portrayed as demonic, a Satanic usurper, an anti-democratic tyrant, a humiliating, destructive homophobic misogynist. 

Only the closed ranks of the Left have believed any of this.  The labels of 'convicted felon, insurrectionist, bulldozing, anti-social dictator, fiend' have never stuck. Trump is not the anti-democratic obstructionist portrayed by the Left but a determinedly democratic one who has vowed to rescind all their Orwellian orders and reset the country. 

Of course the man is full of himself, a bombastic, outrageous Borscht Belt tummler, vaudevillian, circus master of ceremonies and a brilliant impresario; but those who pay attention hear what he means, and laugh at what he says.  Beneath all the stage presence is a conservative in the mold of Ronald Reagan - small government, privatization, entrepreneurship, lower taxes and fewer regulations, a strong military, traditional values of home, family, and religion, patriotism, and a muscular foreign policy. 

Trump's appeal is visceral.  He sticks it to the arrogant political elites of the Left, champions populism and popular rule, and unreservedly ridicules the Left's faux-Utopian, fantastical notions. He not only endorses free speech, he speaks freely without restraint, without the yoke of correctness, without concern for offending, with confidence, purpose, and impossible energy.  He is unabashedly white, heterosexual, wealthy, and privileged; and challenges anyone to defy the reign of European civilization. 

And then the shooting and the iconic image of the former President, bloodied, shielded by the Secret Service, but raising his fist in defiance.  It is that one moment which will define the next three months until the campaign.  It will energize his supporters, consolidate his electoral margins of victory and more than anything show the Left's demonization for what it is - irrational, hysterical, fearful and wild attacks with no foundation.  The febrile moves of a party led by an old man who is given his lines, far past his time, treated like a child, a political hack who knows nothing but electoral office. 

Donald Trump is the anti-Biden.  Outsized, bigger than life, a man of Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the mean streets of New York.  A defiant, unintimidated, unstoppable force  

The bald-faced attempts to cast Trump as a demon are now seen in all their hysterical relief.  No one doubts that this inflamed, inflaming rhetoric about a man whose election will assure Armageddon was not incidental in the mind of the shooter.  Words mean something, and one must take responsibility for them.  The Left's crazed apocryphal rants are not just political hyperbole.  When one invokes the End of Days, destruction, mayhem, and death, there will be consequences. 

Trump draws thousands to his rallies.  His popularity is unquestioned, his status as popular icon as well as presidential candidate increases with every appearance.  The label 'far right' has long since lost currency and credibility.  'Far left' is what the country must fear and it has seen enough over the past four years to want it stopped, ended, and removed from political discourse. 

The outcome of elections is never easy to predict.  Polls are often wrong and anything - as we have seen in the last week - can happen in the months before November voting.  The shooting of Donald Trump has changed the tenor, substance, and probabilities of the campaign.  Trump is indeed a hero ascendant, a victor, and the likely new President of the United States. 

Monday, July 15, 2024

A Voice Crying In The Wilderness - The End Of An Environmentalist

Arnold Wolf was born and grew up on the Upper West Side of New York, the son of a prosperous Jewish family whose forbears had settled on the Lower East Side after escaping the worst of the Soviet pogroms.  Isaac, Arnold's grandfather could have been in a fairy tale - ragpicker turned used clothier turned master tailor then partner in Goldstein & Wolf, purveyor to Givenchy - and his son, Herman sold the business, invested in the renovated real estate of Alphabet City, made a fortune, and moved to Riverside Drive (he never wanted to be far from his cousins) with houses across town and on Long Island. 

 

Arnold was a privileged boy, good at chess and rabbinical studies, headed for Harvard and then who knew what - the Wolfs had never worked for anyone, whether pushcart vendor or scion of 7th Avenue - and he was a youngster with a future as certain as if it had been etched in the tablets on Mt. Sinai. 

When the car came every morning to take him to Yeshiva, he chatted with the driver, an Irishman from Queens who had been with the family for years, about the life ahead.  'Watch out for the ladies', the driver warned, “they’d as soon eat you as look at you’, to which the recondite, proper Arnold laughed politely. He was learning banter as if it were Swahili, and soon would do a good back-and-forth with Paddy O'Brien as naturally as drawing water. 

He never could quite reconcile his rabbinical studies with his future career as public prosecutor.  Perhaps it had to do with Mosaic Law, the Book, and Jewish apocrypha.  It didn't have to make sense since his brother, Saul, and his cousins Peter and Sinai had all become famous as 'The Jewish Genghis Khans of the Fifth Circuit'.  His future was ordained, as it were, and there was nothing that could alter its course. 

 

And so it was that Arnold Wolf went to Harvard, graduated with honors, was admitted to Harvard Law, and became an Assistant District Attorney for the City of New York, Brooklyn's 7th District.  There he saw it all - con men, hustlers, pimps, Ponzi-scheme fraudsters, and hookers.  He had to admit as he prosecuted a minor Jewish crook who had finagled a few thousand dollars out of a Coney Island hot dog franchise, that he was supremely impressed with Bernie Madoff. 

Yes, Madoff had bilked his fellow Jews out of millions but what chutzpah! His Ponzi scheme was, by the time he was uncovered and prosecuted, a masterpiece, a complex intersecting network of nothing, not only a house of cards, but an imaginary one.  Such daring.  Such balls. 

Then, as Arnold's reputation preceded him, he got more and more high-profile cases, and drifted into environmental law.  A company with thousands of employees was accused of breaking EPA regulations and razing forestlands that had been slated for environmental protection. 'Seen one tree, seen them all' seemed to be the only defense that the logging company had to offer as it challenged the jurisdiction of a jerry-rigged, political body bound and determined to inhibit private enterprise. 

Although Arnold had a good case - the legal statutes enabling the EPA in this particular instance were well-ordered - he understood the company's point of view.  What, really, was the value of X hectares of forest, virgin or otherwise, when compared with the economic value of the lumber harvested, the condos and theme parks built and the millions in tourism revenues to be realized?

The defense piled on and talked of 'sanctity...natural heritage...spiritual endowment...and the nation's lungs... but Arnold was not convinced.  A lot of New Age fol-de-rol and liberal cant; but unwilling to recuse himself on the grounds of ideology or preference (the law wanted factual proof of bias), he prosecuted the case. 

It was an open and shut affair based on legal precedent, but Arnold left the courtroom unsatisfied.  What was this environmental thing, this nature thing all about in the first place; and why were people so adamant about preserving it.  So he accepted an unofficial invitation to camp and trek in the Tuscarora mountains of Montana, the very locus of legal action. 

He, on the advice of mountain guides and naturalists outfitted himself with bells, whistles, mosquito repellent, and bear spray and made his way up the mountain trails into the forest.  The old growth forest was dark, brooding and spooky.  With the thought of a bear around every corner and having to whistle, shout and sing at every switchback, he retreated down the mountain to Paradise Valley.  

His hosts suggested other, less demanding trails amidst sagebrush, vermillion, and heather; but there too he was wondering what on earth the shouting was all about.  He had seen more and better in his Sony home entertainment center when his children asked for a Bambi epic. 

The worst of it all was a trip down the Yellowstone River, a tedious, monotonous, bumpy ride with nothing to see - a few hawks and vultures, a deer, and a rabbit in the sights of a Bozeman teenager on 'safari' but nothing more; and the bugs were getting fierce. 

The sun, heat, bugs, and monotony were oppressive. 'What on earth are they thinking?', Arnold asked himself as the rafts pulled into shore. 

The world's civilizations including his own - the Kingdoms of Saul and David - were the beating hearts of humanity.  Law, art, science, literature, and philosophy were generated in cities.  What could possibly come from some remote outpost in the Amazon, the African veldt or the Ross ice shelf? 

So he went back to 115th Street and back to prosecuting crooks and fraudsters conning money out of rubes and dupes.  There were enough of them to keep the wheels of justice turning, and better to put those crooks in the slammer than movers and shakers. 

If he needed a respite, Riverside Park, Central Park, or even the newly repurposed Bryant Park were more than enough.  In fact if he moved too far outside his familiar perimeter - The Hudson and New Jersey - he became uneasy.

He never 'got' the spotted owl or the snail darter.  Let them be consumed or subsumed by Darwin's great evolutionary triage.  They were of no intrinsic value in the give and take of survival of the fittest, so if you wanted to get a glimpse of them before they went extinct, fine; but for him it would always be Michelangelo, DaVinci, and the temples, palaces and gardens of kings. 

Peace, solitude, inspiration from desolate places? He had more insight from Shmuel Katz of Katz's Delicatessen. 'You want Nature? Try my pastrami.  It was once on the hoof', he advised.

Murder, Mayhem, And Violence In America - Why Can't We Be More Like Norway?

The murder rate in the United States is almost ten times that of Norway, and the rate in most violent cities in America, St. Louis, Baltimore, and Detroit, is much, much higher. Granted, we are not El Salvador and Honduras whose rates beggar comparison; but then again America is supposed to be a developed country.  One expects murders, gang killing, rapes, violent assaults, and assassinations in Central America and in the sinkholes of Africa, but not here. 

 

Just a few years ago the Nation's Capital, Washington, DC had a murder rate of over 60 per 100,000 approaching Third World levels.  Jamaican crews and local-hire gangs killed each other regularly and randomly - turf wars, vendettas, and long-standing market share squabbles were only the loudest bang-bang episodes in the city's ghettoes.  Individual murders, accidental drive-by shootings, family disputes, and playground fights added to the total.  

The current Mayor and City Council added to the violence by raising the thresholds for crime - what once were felonies are now misdemeanors, and police have been instructed to act with consideration, compassion, and tolerance - 'Too many black people have been killed and we don't want you adding to the body count', said city officials, opening ghetto doors and saying, 'Free at last'.  Not surprisingly the crime rates skyrocketed, and households in once secure areas of the city started triple locking their doors. 

Liberal jurisdictions are reconsidering 'Defund The Police' initiatives, but the damage has already been done.  Inner city communities already dismally dysfunctional are having a field day now that there were few restraints on violence and criminal behavior and the endemic inviolability of violence, always 

 

Serial killings, mass murders, and assassinations of high public figures are common.  In recent memory there have been attempts on the lives of Presidents Kennedy, Reagan, Ford, and now Trump.  Lesser known Presidents, McKinley and Garfield were targeted.  Perhaps the most remembered political murders in US history was that of Abraham Lincoln. 

Nothing seems to work.  Liberal Congressional representatives cry for gun control, but the country is awash in illegal arms, and a ban would only enrich the traffickers.  More importantly, the problem with extreme violence in America is the intent.  Ever since the days of the Wild West, disputes have been settled violently.  In those times cowboys wore six-shooters on their hips, as much a part of their outfits as ten-gallon hats.  The vast prairies and range lands had no civil justice system, so the settling of the West was only a question of who got their first and who had the most firepower. 

So, are the inner-city murderers heir to the outlaws of the Old West?  Is there something internally permissive in America about the use of violence to settle disputes over wealth, territory, or women? Yes and no.  There most certainly is violent, quick-on-the-draw mentality that has only gotten worse since Billy the Kid.  Al Capone was certainly the heir to or at least a sharing partner in America's bloody justice.  The killings in Chicago were far more extensive than any in the wide open spaces of the West. 

It is no coincidence that the Godfather movies have been such perennial favorites - not only are they great stories, but are all about honor, natural justice, and the pursuit of power.  Killing someone in revenge for their murder of one of your family was not only justified, but necessary.  The movies appealed to a natural primitivism and the suggestion that we all are like Don Corleone. 

And so we are, but the comparison does not stop with the Don.  Human beings have settled affairs with violence since the first human settlements, from the first jawbone of an ox to the most advanced military assault weapon.  Peace is only a coincidental, temporary construct conditioned by circumstances.  Norway until recently has been a small, culturally homogeneous country influenced by Luther and the Church, and encouraged to share with neighbors because they were all alike.  

The famous Pax Romana had nothing miraculous to it.  The Roman Empire was simply unmatched on the battlefield and brilliant at managing conquered territories.  It was a question of military and administrative genius - a rare combination, and as history has shown, a one-off, an anomaly. 

So it is not that America is violent, the world is violent.  Human nature is violent.  Violence diminishes as parity increases.  The US and the Soviet Union never went to war because of 'mutually assured destruction'.  Peace in European Medieval and Renaissance Wars resulted either when one adversary was defeated or when there was a stalemate. Killing of American Indians stopped only when they were all dead or in reservations and no longer a threat to Westward Expansion. 

Violence in America's slums continues because, unlike El Salvador which has enacted a military, extra-judicial sweep of its most violent areas and incarcerated thousands or the regime of Duarte in the Philippines which did the same thing, the United States still believes in compromise, thus allowing the inner cities to continue to fester.   If there really were a zero tolerance policy to the criminality of Anacostia, one of the worst inner city areas of Washington, crime would stop.  Right now there is neither stalemate nor victory. 

Progressives contend that restrictive measures are not the answer.  Black people must be understood.  After all, they still suffer from systemic racism - i.e. the ills of slavery and Jim Crow are still with us today.  That of course is whistlin' Dixie.  It has been over 250 years since the end of the Civil War, seventy since the end of most segregation, and sixty since the Civil Rights Act.  The dysfunction and incivility of the inner city has nothing to do with legacy but an endemic ethos of entitlement fostered and encouraged by progressive policies.  

Inner city violence is not because of racism, but at least in large part due to an erosion of majority values, an ethos of me-too aggressiveness, and permissive onlookers.   Decades of 'compassionate consideration' have shown no results, and the ghettoes of Washington are still ghettoes 

Serial killings, mass murders, and assassinations are a white thing in America, and there have been no good explanations for it.  It certainly stems from the same American ethos of violence, explored above - i.e. that Americans have always settled affairs at the end of a gun - but why should whites gravitate to this particular resolution of grievances?

 

Cynics joke that black people have enough on their plate with all the killings and mayhem in the ghetto; but their criminal psychopathology might be of the same order but expressed differently. Most all mass murderers have a history of serious mental disturbance - abusive parents, sexual failure, dismal visions of themselves, etc.  Black killers may have the same levels of psychopathology, but dealt with and expressed in different ways. 

As far as the Pax Romana balance is concerned, once again with opening of the doors of mental institutions and letting the madmen loose has only increased the chances of social violence.  Plus the fact that under the new progressive aegis of 'inclusivity', the mentally ill are considered no different than anyone else, so special surveillance would be intrusive and an abridgment of their civil rights. 

Go figure.  The would-be assassin of Donald Trump was a fucked-up white boy just like all the rest, so the tale continues. 

Violence in America? On the whole when you consider Pol Pot, Stalin, and Hitler; or in the context of El Salvador and Honduras; or the lawless, murderous capitals of Africa; or the decapitating brutality of ISIS and its clones, we are a relatively tame place.  

 

This is by no means to explain away or justify it.  God knows, I triple-lock my doors at night too. 

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Blood On Their Hands - The Attempted Assassination Of Donald Trump And The Complicity Of The Hateful Left

Donald Trump has been the focus of unremitting hatred for over a decade.  In the latest incarnation of the Left he is a threat to democracy and the very underpinnings of the Republic.  He is a tyrant in the wings, a usurper, an autocrat out to turn the country into a brutal dictatorship.  Pogroms of gay, transgender, and black people; mass deportations, grand sweeps of the country to rid it of political and social opposition will begin on Inauguration Day. He is an insurrectionist, a liar, brutal and self-serving - a latter day Hitler. 

  

These accusations levied against the former President are willy-nilly, a priori assumptions, inchoate, verminous, and unfounded.  The syllogistic meme that has characterized the Left's ad hominem, relentless onslaught - 'He does evil because he is evil' - has been the only basis for such destructive, damaging allegations.  The belief that he is not just a political opponent but an immoral, godless Satan has infected electoral discourse for years.  

His lies, say the Left, his misinformation, and deliberate distortion of the truth are hateful examples of his power-hungry, amoral ascent to power.  He is a man without a scintilla of rectitude, with no moral compass, a man not only determined to end democracy but to establish an Orwellian state where only his truths are valid. 

His 'lies', however, are no more mistruths than anything coming from Jackie Mason or Henny Youngman on the old Borscht Belt circuit. His Leftist antagonists say that his ad hominem, 'cruel and insensitive' portrayals are uncalled-for reminders of his soulless character; but they are nothing more than vaudevillian humor.  His 'lies' are part and parcel of his persona - a big, bullish man with infinite confidence.  Trump supporters are Deconstructionists able to parse what he says to derive meaning.  They go past the exaggerations, hyperbole, and bombast to extract essential principles. 

Ronald Reagan operated on fundamental principles - small government, lower taxes and less regulation, a strong military, encouragement of the private sector, and a protection of Bill of Rights freedoms - and was understood and respected for them. It was easy to follow this simple, elegant, and straightforward man.  

Donald Trump is equally principled but a master showman, tummler, vaudevillian and comedian.  It is harder to parse what he says, delve, and mine for meaning; but his followers have learned how. 

The Left simply has never understood the Trump phenomenon and have never altered their self-serving assumption that he is an inveterate liar and deceiver.  The truth, however, is their truth not the truth.  

American presidents have been attacked by their adversaries with scurrilous, unfounded, and reckless charges before; but never has a president been the subject of such hateful, spiteful, venomous tirades. 

If the American people swallow this - that the re-election of the man will result in the downfall of the Republic, Kristallnacht sweeps, imprisonments, torture, deaths, and a barbaric, unrecallable state - then they will vote for the sitting President, Joe Biden.  

There is nothing in the Democratic platform that addresses Trump's policies and proposed programs - all of which are reasonable, justifiable, and logical.  He has argued for energy independence and balancing environmental issues with the competitive geopolitical market.  He has vowed to roll back the punitive measures to inhibit free speech and to stop the unfounded claims of the race-gender-ethnicity marionettes.  

He has argued for a return to Kissinger-Machiavellian realpolitik, and a patriotic nationalism.  He, like Ronald Reagan before him has pledged to lower tax burdens on the most productive and to limit legislative controls on them.  He has argued for a sensible border policy that balances economic demand with national and cultural integrity. 

The Left has no counter to these principles and rely only on idealistic notions of 'equality'.  They lionize the black man and want to raise him atop the human pyramid but refuse to address the persistent perennial dysfunction of he ghetto, to assign personal responsibility, and to criticize entitlement and the stifling of opportunity.  

They promote the most impossibly fantastical vision of human sexuality.  They automatically milk the productive wealthy to enrich the unproductive poor.  They champion diversity but in so doing create a divisive, hostile nation. 

The derisive, ad hominem, irresponsible claims against Donald Trump - that his victory in November is tantamount to a capitulation to the Devil, an ushering in of a tyrannical rule of hatred and disassembly and a regime of brutality, greed, and unwarranted privilege  - cannot help but create the enabling environment that encourages violence.  

It is not the MAGA 'far right' that is violent - the events of January 6th, all fright wigs, face paint, and Viking helmets, were nothing more than a mob of wackos who had come out of the woodwork, the backcountry, and crackerland to cause a fuss.  It is the far Left that is violent, for their incitement to violence through peddling hatred is far more insidious and far more destructive.

And the assassination attempt? What do you expect from a country filled with psychopathic killers given a free pass in the name of inclusivity, a free ride through schools, jobs, and public service, their twisted, deformed, murderous pathology overlooked and dismissed? 

When twisted, deformed, hateful political ideology is combined with a fevered, irrational, unformed brain, the result is mayhem.  Just a matter of guns? Just a matter of psychopathology? No and never.  

If Trump was treated only as a political adversary with differing ideas and policies but without the overheated, fiery, subhuman environment fomented and stirred up by the Left, violent political expression would not happen or at least would not be so common The Left has to answer for the assassination attempt.

'Hate Has No Home Here', say the rainbow signs festooning lawns in upscale, liberal neighborhoods; but hate definitely lives there.  The hatred for Donald Trump is palpable, visceral, and immured.  The name Trump alone is enough to shake the foundations of nice homes.  Ordinarily respectful neighbors become twisted and ghoulish with hate at the mention of the man - a zeitgeist promoted, fostered, and encouraged by the progressive Left. 

It is the hypocrisy of all hypocrisies - those who promote inclusion and diversity as a platform actually encourage the vilest, most dangerous form of hatred.     

 

Now the re-election of Donald Trump is all but assured.  Not only has this horrific incident awakened voters to the insanity of the Left's hateful attacks on the former President and the bald hypocrisy of their notions, but the current President, Joe Biden, is an old, doddering, confused relic.  

The image that will remain in voters mind is the bloodied, defiant, courageous Donald Trump raising his fist, showing the crowd that he is still here, a tough son of a bitch, their man, and their President.  

Saturday, July 13, 2024

When A Brutal Case Of Poison Ivy Turned An Environmentalist Bad - Misery Always Trumps Doing Good

The world is Gaia, the Earth Mother, a universal whole, a One, a miraculous integrity of living things.  It knows when a butterfly has hurt its wing, when a fish jumps in the ocean, and when a sparrow drops from a tree. Man is the interloper who trespasses on Creation, the damager, and the destroyer. 

These were the thoughts of Leverett Parsons as he drove to the Shenandoah, the valley in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, his place of solace, peace, and belonging. As he left Washington far behind, a feeling of serenity and happy expectation came over him.  K Street, the Capitol, and the White House were only traces in the rearview mirror as the developments along the Interstate finally began to thin, the rolling hills of Virginia extended to the far horizon, and the first peaks of the mountains, rose bluish in the morning light.  He was home. 

Lev Parsons had been a lifelong environmentalist, at least for the thirty or so years that it had become a cause celebre. There was something existential about the issue of the environment that civil rights never achieved.  A black man in the ghetto was nothing compared to the warming planet, the extinction of species, and the fiery end to Nature.  He immediately regretted these thoughts.  The black man deserved more currency and attention, but the Earth? That was another thing altogether, the home to billions, the blue marble in a marvelously precise elliptical orbit around the sun, turning brown and grey.  

The black man was once his hero.  A refugee from the tribal simplicity and beauty of the African forest, enslaved and brought to the Americas, his native sensibilities had for decades been dismissed as primitive, Stone Age, animalistic grunts; and Parsons and his equally committed colleagues had worked tirelessly to raise him to his proper place atop the human social pyramid.  Parsons had gone to the barriers with his black brothers, and fought tirelessly for restitution, reparations, and white apologies. 

Until Black Lives Matter showed up, an arriviste in the civil rights struggle, out more for mayhem and bank accounts than racial purpose.  There was that LaShonda Evans, a prima donna wig-wearing, high-toned black woman who scammed millions from her followers.  Gone were the days of Martin Luther King, Ralph Abernathy, and Jesse Jackson, true integrationists who hoped for a united, peaceful, and racially harmonious world.  LaShonda and her claques, a cabal of ghetto queens who hooked themselves to her star and who plundered and pillaged until the cupboard was bare, were finally caught, tried, and sentenced; but not before they turned over the reins to another weaselly crew of make-money-quick pimps. 

No, thought Lev, it was time to move up and on, and after a brief sojourn with the LGBTQ+ movement, he turned to environmentalism.  To be honest he was never comfortable with being ogled by the gay men in his office and was disgusted by the posters of fisting and water sports posted in the hallways.  Gay men had their rights which had been trampled by the homophobic white population, but sexual 'alteration' made him shudder.  Just the thought of his penis....and there at that thought he shook his head and thought of hot chocolate or Bermuda.  As much as he sympathized with the movement, he simply could not be part of it and part of 'them'. 

And so it was that he took up the cudgel of environmentalism.  He came by it naturally.  Although a city boy, born and raised on the Upper West Side of New York, his favorite outings were to the Adirondacks, a patch of the Appalachian spine high enough to have vistas but tame enough for leisurely walks. If what environmentalists said was true, the Adirondacks would soon be cinder and ash.  

More than just that unsettling thought, the philosophical casing that had been put around the issue - its existential focus - appealed to him.  It wasn't just that his hiking trails and mountain-top cabins were at risk, but the world itself.  Global warming was real, imminent, and fatal. 

Environmentalism as a social issue was particularly compelling because of its inclusiveness.  You couldn't really think about the warming planet without considering the reasons why - the unsustainable use of carbon-based fuels was only an expression of the predatory, manipulative capitalism that underlay it; the very capitalism that was at the heart of forced labor, segregation, and the perpetual enslavement of the black man.  Being an environmentalist meant being a socialist, a universal reformer, and a person committed to human predation wherever it was found. 

Despite the good will, honest sentiment, and passionate response to the problem, there was something a bit off about environmentalists, too much of a good thing perhaps, an irritating pouncing on everything from spotted spurge to a hot day. 'Hot enough for you?' produced torrent of bile-spewing hatred. 'Ignorant fools...social troglodytes...capitalist lackeys...insensate cowards...pigs..'. A fly on the coleslaw provoked more bitter invective - 'the spawn of the devil capitalist marauders, the first sign of an overheating planet...'. 

The same thing, if he thought to reflect on his past, was true of modern civil rights.  It wasn't enough to confront and redress the lingering remains of Jim Crow but to champion every black man who walked the earth.  Black faces were everywhere in wild disproportion to their demographic importance, black this, black that to a drumbeat deliberately loud and insistent to drown out the gunfire in the ghetto, the endemic, systemic dysfunction of the place.  And LGBTQ+ activism?  

And so it was that this bubbling irritation with social reform coincided with the worst case of poison ivy/oak that dermatologists had seen in years.  They had never seen such a perfect storm, such a deadly combination of toxins.  Usually one genus topped the other, but here was a case when Nature teamed up with a vengeance to assure that interlopers would stay away; or so it was that a physician with an ironic sense of humor said to Leverett Parsons as he wrapped him from head to toe in gauze and strapped mittens on his hands to stop him from scratching.  Unkind but true, thought Parsons as he peered out through the eyeholes in the gauze. 

Come to think of it, the mosquitoes had been bad that day too, and at least some of the blebs and bumps were due to them; and he hoped that the doctors would remove the many ticks that remained after an hour of picking them out of his hair.  

And so it was that Leverett Parsons returned to normal, got over the environmentalist thing and jettisoned the last uncomfortable baggage of doing the right thing.  He tucked into his work as an investment banker with renewed interest and made millions from canny investments in North Slope oil, Louisiana refineries, and transcontinental pipelines. 



Friday, July 12, 2024

The Con As High Art - The Sexual Ponzi Schemes Of A Very Clever Woman

Much has been made of 'the truth' these days. Of course there is no such thing, despite the claims of politicians who insist there is - as long as its theirs - all of which results in the circus atmosphere of American politics. 

There was the Southern governor who went missing from his desk for a week to chase his Argentine firecracker to Buenos Aires where he was caught in flagrante delicto but not before he had covered his tracks with a story about hiking the Appalachian Trail; or the Senator who had not only lied about his extramarital affair and his illegitimate child, but paid an aide to take the blame.  'His child, not mine', insisted the Senator in an angry press conference. 

Lying, chicanery, bowdlerizing, and deception are par for the course on Capitol Hill, at the White House, and in Foggy Bottom.  The most outlandish tales are currency on the power avenues of the capital.  Who did what to whom is only the beginning, followed by innuendo, sly reference, winks and nods and finally downright, bald-faced whoppers, and the demand for information whatever its source or veracity is limitless. No one cares overly about what the truth is in all the allegations and accusations.  It is enough that something is plausible, fits a behavior pattern, or jibes with other past reported events. 

 

None of this should be a surprise.  Not only have politics always been a smarmy affair, but such chicanery and magic tricks with the facts are part and parcel of all our lives. 

Take Blanton Pease who since childhood never had use for the truth.  He fibbed, lied, and deceived his parents, his teachers, and even the easiest mark of them all - the priest behind the screen in the confessional.  He made up sins just to make his Act of Contrition more noteworthy, adding a few venial sins- disobeying his mother or taking a chocolate kiss from his sister to leaven the load - the whoppers were what got Father Brophy’s attention.

The priest in fact, sworn to secrecy about the identity of those who confessed, was under no obligation to keep quiet about the sins themselves; and the the sinful strides of Mr. X were worth telling when he and his buddies got together over cigarettes and beer.  

Or poor Henry Lerner whose own childhood was so pitifully plain and ordinary compared that of the swells at St. Grottlesex who summered on the Vineyard, wintered in Gstaad, and breezed through calculus, that he invented his life, creating a fictional family that one-upped his classmates with stories of the casinos in Monte Carlo, downhill racing, and dreamy Sundays in St. Tropez. 

Or Farley Biggs, a serial adulterer whose excuses were more fabulist than anything Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, or Ursula LeGuin could possibly have invented  He was a genius, a brilliantly talented liar who could fool Einstein. 

None, however, could match Loretta Sorel, a woman as deft, agile, and believable a liar as there ever was, and use her unparalleled talents to one use and one only - to bed the most eligible, marriage-worthy, admirable men in Washington. Now, Loretta was a woman who could have easily negotiated her way to a secure future.  She was of modest background, good lineage, and ample finances; and honesty in these regards could have landed her a man of integrity and responsibility; but she had her sights set much, much higher. 

Where she got her dramatic flair, her Greta Garbo, Sarah Bernhardt melodrama, her Shakespearean cajoling trickery no one knew, let alone her.  She was not a woman to parse, analyze, and decipher.  She simply loved to see men trip over themselves to get her eye and never give them so much as a wink, only a fare-thee-well air kiss when she turned her attention elsewhere. 

 

Of course the deck was stacked in her favor.  Men have been chasing women forever, caught in one romantic fantasy after another.  It was that frustrated lover Petrarch who in the 15th century with his sonnets to his beloved, Laura, created the idea of romantic love. The time was right for the idea to catch on in an age of chivalry, knights, fair maidens, bravery and honor, and it has persisted without much deviation to this day.  

Loretta, like Shakespeare's Portia in The Merchant of Venice knew that she could best men at every turn, and enjoyed watching them in the curious St. Vitus' dances of courtship.  One prince after another came to Portia's salon and were offered the chance to bid for her hand.  Guess what is in the casket, she said, lead, silver, or gold, and the correct answer will award them her sexual bounty. 

The men concocted one self-serving, posturing, presumptuously arrogant explanation of their choice after another.  'It must be gold because I am golden, worth the riches of Croesus, a man of wealth beyond wealth....But no, that is too obvious.  I am a man of sterling virtue, of wealth to be sure, but without exaggeration...It couldn't possibly be lead, but then again, the placer of the prize might value solidity, permanence; and I am of such permanence...'

 

Portia watched and listened with her servant to the absurdity, the absolute ridiculousness of the princes' claims.  She, like Cleopatra who laughed with her eunuch, Marden at the silliness of the fawning Antony, enjoyed the courtship of the men who posed and postured before her. 

If Loretta could have been one of Shakespeare's women, she would have been Cleopatra, the Queen of the Nile who bedded emperors, and who completely, absolutely snookered Marc Antony, convinced him of her love and loyalty, then tricked him at the sea battle of Actium without a second thought.  She knew that this big fish had already been hooked, and the future of Rome with the young Augustus was far more promising than this faded hero. 

Loretta was the enchanting, queen of the pasha's harem, the irresistible woman of A Thousand and One Nights.  She was the nauch dancer of Rajput princes, the geisha to shoguns - and all with nothing behind the veil.  She had such an uncanny understanding of male desire and feminine, alluring sexual wiles, that there needn't be anything of substance behind the inviting smile or the airy caress.  

Word spread and this infinitely desirable, impossibly alluring woman who was beyond reach became every man's object of desire.  She was a gorgeous chameleon, dressing the part for Iowa rubes and Brooklyn Jews, tempting in their cultural lingo, keeping them in line and on a string.  She saw not one, but many, and her sexual Ponzi scheme kept adding value, adding investors, status, privilege, and attention.  Like all Ponzi schemes, there was nothing there, zero added to zero at every encounter, but her ascribed value was in the millions. 

She had the pick of the litter by the time she was ready to pack it in with the best of the lot.  Despite her fun at the expense of men she was no Bernal Heights flannel-and-jackboots tough girl.  She was a bit like the Marquise de Merteuil in Laclos' Les Liaisons Dangereuses - conspiring with Valmont to seduce young girls in a marvelous sexual charade. Her fair game was men.  

At last report Loretta had gone back to Frog Hollow, but that could have been her own favored fable of the day; and reports that had her in Rimini with with the Count Emmanuel de Fauchon-Berrier were much more believable. 

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Tarred And Feathered For Flying The American Flag - The Witches' Coven Of St. Michael's Park

Andrew Figgins replaced the flag on his front lawn and adjusted the one on the masthead above his front door.  It was not the Fourth of July, Veterans Day, or Memorial Day when he put out the flag, a banner, and stars and stripes festoons on his dormers, but just any day of the week.  

He lived in an upscale, progressive corner of Washington where no one doubted the liberal canon, the man in the White House, or the direction of the country.  Politics was a settled argument, an a priori assumption of good, an internalized sense of justice and righteousness.

There was a political certainty about St. Michael's Park, a solid foundation of secular, liberal values that gave the residents a sense of pride, satisfaction, and well-being, all of which derived from a sense of desperation over the state of the country, one infected by anti-democratic, insurrectionist values of crass individualism and disregard for the 'other' - the poor, the disadvantaged, and the marginalized.  

They abhorred the word 'market', and 'supply and demand' was the cry only of those who wanted to dismantle the correctional mechanisms of government and to return the nation to the raw capitalism of laissez-faire. 

The flags flying on the lawn of Andrew Figgins' house were stark reminders that their job was far from over.  This moral recidivist, this Klansman of the deep state didn't belong in St. Michael's Park, didn't belong anywhere for that matter so retrograde and brutally misanthropic were his beliefs - or so they imagined, for none of the residents of St. Michael's Park every confronted him. 

They parked bumper to bumper with his car, hemming him in when they could, picked up after their dogs everywhere except in front of his house, and snipped and snarled when they passed him on the sidewalk but nothing more. 

There was something very Stephen King or Macbeth 'something wicked this way comes' about St. Michael's Park, a kind of moral cabal, an underlying defensive rectitude, a 'Don't Cross This Line' defiance.  It was the silent hatred that was all the more troubling.  A clenched-teeth, tight-lipped, smiling resentment of any interloper, any outsider that dared entry; and so it was that the residents of St. Michael's collectively decided to run Andrew Figgins out of town. 

The rot would only fester unless it was removed. The flags so prominently and defiantly flown shouted far-right hatred, symbols of blatant defiance of American values, an in your face angry resentment of communalism and social progress.  Figgins had to go. 

The residents of St. Michael's Park, however, were not the kind of people to resort to angry confrontation or violence.  They were the ones who, in defense of playground civility, had run away from bullies, hated the idea of contentiousness or argument, and preferred symbolism and 'suggestive demurral'.  So the lawns of St. Michael's Park  sprouted rainbow 'Hatred Has No Home Here' signs, and gay pride flags flew from front porches.  Let him see what we're made of! 

The neighborhood felt good about this convinced sense of purpose.  It was enough to smirk and laugh at Donald Trump at lawn parties, another to go to the barricades with their own defiance and statements of commitment and patriotism.  

Now, many of St. Michael's Park residents had come only lately to progressivism and so were more Catholic than the Pope.  How they and their liberal confreres came to discard all the New England Anglo-Saxon aristocratic ways of their childhood was a mystery debated by historians of the era.

How did this adolescent idealism begin, and more importantly what kept it alive for so long? Why was political fancy perpetuated so long after it should have gone the way of toy swords, buckles, and princess outfits? Why have history books remained gathering dust on bottom shelves? What has fed such dreams?  A recent observer of the phenomenon wrote, somewhat unkindly but with no small degree of insight:

Progressivism today is a circus side show, a shell game, all quick fingers and no substance; a burlesque show with tits and pasties, booty and promise but nothing for sale but wiggle; a vaudevillian act with a pull-by date, an exhausting show of face-paint and mime; a familiar, predictable, crude repertoire. 

Bob Mason had been born and brought up in one of Boston's finest families, educated at St. Paul's and Yale, heir to a fortune and a family legacy that went back to the Earl of Northumberland.  He was on track for a seat on the NY stock exchange, partner at Bear Stearns, and homes in Wellesley, St. Barts, and Nantucket.

Until he met the Reverend Stallworth Marshall, Chaplain of Yale, Freedom Rider, civil rights activist, peacenik, and gay rights supporter who in one fell swoop disabused him of his claim to social priority, reduced him to the people's level, and turned him from prep school Fence Club layabout to a committed progressive. 

There must have been something loose in Bob's rigging for him to have fallen so fast and so far, but there he was on the front line of every progressive cause that could be imagined - women, gays, peace, the climate, and economic equality.  His whole life had been given up to progressive ideals, and now next door was the very enemy against whom he had fought since Yale. 

Bob had always lived within tight, homogeneous intellectual communities and had moved early on to St. Michael's Park because of its reputation for doctrinal purity and good, common, progressive sense.  So to have this bloody reminder that the job he had assumed was finished - the demise of right wing conservatism and the rise of a new, reformist, Utopian-minded society - was not only not done and gone but alive and well. 

Andrew knew nothing of the simmering rage among his neighbors and had no idea of the animus for which he was responsible.  Yes, the sprouting of No Hate Here rainbow signs was surprising.  Anyone brought up in the elbow-patched tweed and country club reserve of good captain of industry stock would never show their colors so cheaply; but there they were, pinwheels, bobbing and dipping lawn flamingos, used car lot inflated caricatures and all.  Something was up. 

'Why the flags, Andy?', said his two-doors-down neighbor who had festooned his house with a giant Black Lives Matter banner and 'Democracy Matters' pennant.

Andrew's answer, noncommittal but intentional was, 'America, Jack' to which the neighbor, stymied, could only manage, 'How 'bout 'em Steelers', move on to intermittent trash pickup problems and the weather. 

The umbrage! The offense, the downright gall of the man to flaunt his MAGA, right wing sympathies here of all places.  There was no room on the rainbow's prism for homophobic nationalists. 

The anger seethed.  It was painful to drive past the house of this self-assured, cock-of-the-walk bigot, and drivers swerved deliberately close to his car, hoping to sideswipe it, run, and laugh, but at the last minute had second thoughts about propriety and the due course of justice. 

More BLM signs, All Are Welcome Here yard displays, and odd secularized manger scenes of black people and Asian infants, until the lawns of St. Michael's were unmowable; but still no moving trucks at the Figgins residence, no sign of any intent of leaving. 

The election came and went and Donald Trump was back in the White House.  Andrew, never one to gloat, did nothing in particular except replace one slightly muddied flag with a brand new one.  His neighbors' kept their festoons and banners, now irrelevant and useless, for a few weeks after the election.  They had some pride after all; but by Inauguration Day they were gone, trashed in alleyway dumpsters.  If this....this tragedy could happen in America, than new banners and festoons would have to be confected and arrayed.