William McGonagall, a morality play

Yes, I know the poems of Scots poet William Topaz McGonagall pale compared to the likes of William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Glenda Bailey-Mershon, Susanna Lang, Adam Wyeth, and Christine Swanberg (and thousands more). However, in being immortalized as “the worst poet in British history,” he’s gotten half a bad rap.

William_McGonagall

According to Wikipedia: “The chief criticisms [of his poems] are that he is deaf to poetic metaphor and unable to scan correctly.” Moreover, “Scholars argue that his inappropriate rhythms, weak vocabulary, and ill-advised imagery combine to make his work amongst the most unintentionally amusing dramatic poetry in the English language.”

I think they have missed the point. Okay, so he’s the Ed Wood of poetry. Ed Wood, burdened with the retrospective honorific “The World’s Worst Director,” had a decent story sense. Starting with the same synopses, a competent director could have made film history.  Wood was just a lousy filmmaker.

Ed_Wood_photo

Like Wood, McGonagall toiled in the wrong genre. Wikipedia went on to say, “His work is in a long tradition of narrative ballads and verse written and published about great events and tragedies, and widely circulated among the local population as handbills. In an age before radio and television, their voice was one way of communicating important news to an avid public.” An indication of his acute story sense, “Ode to the Queen on her Jubilee Year,” “The Wreck of the Steamer London While on Her Way to Australia,” “Grace Darling or the Wreck of the ‘Forfarshire’,” and his most renowned poem “The Tay Bridge Disaster” show, from his choice of subject, his sense of drama. His choices of content in multiple works concerning news events illustrate his understanding of what readers like.

Catastrophe_du_pont_sur_le_Tay_-_1879_-_Illustration.jpg

Moreover, poems about death and funerals, history, moral issues, and temperance show his concern and understanding of the human condition. Still, to most, his subject matter gets lost in the doggerel.

Queen_Victoria_by_Bassano

McGonagall’s epic poetry is a clear admonition against letting form overpower content; it did not want for emotion—overstated perhaps—but his editorial perspective was clear. In  “An Ode to the Queen on her Jubilee Year,” some of his imagery is clear and precise. However, rhyme and meter were everything to him, overshadowing his love for his sovereign.  Perhaps “The Tay Bridge Disaster” lacks more than it offers, but it illustrates his ability to recognize a good story. The soul of a storyteller with no ability to tell the story with clarity and the drama it deserves is nothing short of tragedy.

 

Even Wood had his moments. Maybe the best part of “Glen or Glenda,” overrun with such detailed narration in place of visual imagery, was his wistful, though slightly overplayed performance as the hapless main character regarding his cross-dressed reflection in a store window. Though he sports movie star good-looks, he’s generally not a great actor, this moment reveals just how much the project meant to him. This film before its time, in the hands of a competent filmmaker, could have been so much better than even Wood thought it was.

PlanNine_02

A flying saucer is seen flying above the graveyard in “Plan 9 from Outer Space.”

The plot of “Plan 9,” earth at risk from alien solar weaponry — even with the zombie connection, could have been literature under the sure hand of a James Whale. Wood, too, had a nasty tendency to let the worlds he built rule rather than serve the story and its actors.  Fine literature is crowded with examples of setting as a supporting character.

Unlike Wood, McGonagall faced the worst mockery and scorn during his lifetime, but chose to view criticism as a product of those who did not understand his great work. In some cases, especially in the letter of rejection Queen Victoria sent when he applied to be poet laureate of England, he took the criticism as great praise.  In the film “The Great McGonagall” [1975, with Spike Milligan as McGonagall and Peter Sellars as Queen Victoria, directed by Joseph McGrath], all the adult males were portrayed in broad parody. The college students who egged McGonagall on exchanged infantile expressions of amusement the moment he looked away. If the essence of acting is truly immersion into the truth of the character, one wishes to ask the actress who played Mrs. McGonagall [Julia Foster], what is it like to be the only sane adult in the room? [I suppose we could ask that of Hillary Clinton, too.] Wood passed away long before the jeers revved up to epic proportion, but he chose to view that which he faced when he was alive in much the same way McGonagall did.

Most of us are at a disadvantage. We grew up in a society that valued treating people with respect. Some say the turnabout started with the republican’s who jeered President Obama during a State of the Union address. Certainly, that started bringing out latent racism pushed underground by an ad campaign during the Civil Rights Movement. Others say it started with Newt Gingrich taking his daughters to visit their mother, who was recovering from cancer surgery and brought along divorce papers for her to sign. Both of those incidents were somewhat isolated in a world where most people were still acting respectfully even if it was a mask.

Okay, so Americans have a history of pecking parties, but the majority have always shunned scapegoating. They saw those that took after individuals based on race or religion as evil.

Now that it’s all around us, it’s much harder for those just trying to survive to rise above the bullshit. In this age of terrible republican role models, we are bombarded with disrespect in the form of mockery, execration, easily identified falsehoods, total disregard for more than two-thirds of voters, leaders so terrified of women they needed to remove all our effective medical and physical protections and literally silence the smartest women, vilification of not just those less fortunate, but those who exhibit concern for them, among other abominations. All of which has opened the old wounds and given some permission to behave badly. Even kindergarten students are mimicking disrespect. Yet worst of all is the reverence for money akin to worship that gives a glamorous aura to the so-called “role models.” Certainly, oligarchy has proven harmful to the economy, and the deeper issue kakistocracy is an unspeakable frustration. Still, the normalizing of mockery, xenophobia, lying, and disregard for frailty — all in the name of a religion the majority “leaders” know absolutely nothing about — far more tragic than a voiceless poet.

Notes:
Photo credits all go back to Wikipedia as does the video of “Plan 9 from Outer Space;”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_McGonagall
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Wood
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tay_Bridge_disaster
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Victoria
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/64/Plan_9_from_Outer_Space_%281959%29.webm

 

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Characters

RKO

[1]

When I first wrote this for the Jane’s Stories blog, I’d seen two fairly new movies that I’d missed when they were in first run.  I don’t get to the theater very often, mostly because of the economy. However, on occasion, I will splurge. Something with Judi Dench promises good character-based stories[2]. For another example, the last Harry Potter broke open my moth-infested purse. Yes, of course, I saw all of the others first run. However, when the first couple were released, I was still able to practice the worst of my financial habits: multiple viewings in the first week!

Judi Dench

[3]

Dobby

[4]

The economy is only a small part of self-imposed banishment from soda-sticky floors and popcorn underfoot like sand on the beach. My taste in movies has become rather rigid and, at some point, I lost the confidence I once had in the production of the American cinematic story — comedies particularly. For a while, despite “knowing what I liked,” I was convinced that all the truly great films had been released before I was born.

Carry On Forever

[4]

Annette & Frankie

[6]

Though I still question some of the choices filmmakers have made based on the assumption that the primary audience for film today is males 18-25 years of age, I will admit films are growing up again. Okay, so my memory of the “old days” is a bit convenient. Though I won’t waste any time with them, thanks to Turner Classic Movies, I’ve seen some dang silly movies made during Hollywood’s “Golden Era,” though primarily that was a time when character-driven plots ruled. Even the studio logos had personality! What I most remember is that my high school years were pockmarked by the likes of “Beach” and “Carry On” movies. The “Carry On” films were part of Britain’s adolescence: driven by slapstick, sexual humor. Beach movies were driven by music and an assumption of sex — neither of which filled my bill at that time.

Wings of Desire

[7]

The two films that began to change my mind each gave me a rather rude shock. Since the ’80s, American romantic comedies had been aimed at a much younger crowd. We were facing a new crop of actors and a new social sensibility. Though some of them were enjoyable, few were my idea of a great film, “Wings of Desire”  was labelled “too talky” and made into a Romantic Comedy called “City of Angels.”  “Wings of Desire” relies primarily on two things: what two angels bear witness to and brilliant cinematography; yet it is still a very personal story of an angel who chooses mortality. 

City of Angels

[=]

“City of Angels”  moved the setting from post war Germany to present day Los Angeles, cast Meg Ryan, Nicholas Cage (two of my favorites) and gave the ending tragic overtones, unlike “Wings of Desire” which acknowledged a tragic past while looking forward to an uplifted future. A clear indication that Hollywood and I were of different mind sets.

Hysteria

[9]

Suddenly while in the library, I tripped over “Hysteria” and Dragonheart” (Universal Pictures 1996.)  For those of you who missed it,  “Hysteria” was a feminist romantic comedy set in the Victorian era, illustrating the invention of the British personal vibrator. Very funny and very scary, this film focuses on a doctor with the temerity to challenge the managing physician on the hospital’s blatant lack of concern for sanitary conditions. When fired, he ends up working for a physician whose primary clientele were women suffering from “Hysteria” and requiring a proper wank from a licensed physician[10]. The other unignorable character is his new employer’s daughter, an outspoken, free-spirited feminist who runs a clinic for working women. Okay, sex is still a Hollywood staple and no red state politician will ever be able to change that — especially when two strong characters of opposite sex lead the story unerringly forward — three, if you count the vibrator.

DragonHeart

[10]

People have been telling me to see “DragonHeart” for years. And I’m extremely glad I finally listened to them. It’s a love story, not necessarily between the male and female leads — both worthy characters themselves — but between the last Dragon slayer and the last Dragon. You know, a buddy picture. While the female lead was a strong, capable person, she didn’t have as much action as, say, Snow White in “Snow White and the Huntsman[11],”  as the director, Rob Cohen pointed out in the commentary, she was “the moral compass” of the film. Indispensable, unlike so many of Hollywood’s so called “Heroines.”

Snow White & the Huntsman

[12]

Both “Hysteria” and “DragonHeart” gave me hope for a better cinematic future here. Yet, it’s still a fact that when films spring from a book, a previous movie, or some other “published” inspiration, they become something different, whether or not they stay faithful to the source. We, as writers, need to be aware of that. Books, stories, and stage plays have limited authorship. By it’s very nature, films have many “authors,” producer(s), director(s), writers(s) [I’ve seen as many as twelve screen credits for “writer” in one film], cinematographers, as well as crafts people: effects, make-up, and hair artists, not to mention couturiers. Writing for film requires a very laid back attitude toward collaboration.

M-G-M

[13]


Notes:
[1]RKO’s legacy includes classic films like “Citizen Kane,” “King Kong,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and a plethora of sources for memorable characters.
[2] Yes, that includes the Bond film: Skyfall (Eon Productions 2012)
[3]Judy Dench
[4]Harry Potter’s Dobby, a free elf who knew the meaning of loyalty.
[5]The “Carry On” movies were British favorites from the late fifties through the seventies.
[6]The “Beach” moves were the standard for teenage angst in the sixties.
[7]Wim Wenders‘ “Wings of Desire,” (Road Movies Filmproduktion 1987); Bruno Ganz, Solveig Dommartin, Otto Sander, and Peter Falk as another fallen angel.
[8]]City of AngelsNicholas CageMeg RyanAndre Braugher, and Dennis Franz in the Peter Falk character, directed by Brad Silberling.
[9]”Hysteria“ (Forthcoming Films 2011) Hugh DancyMaggie Gyllenhaal, Jonathon PryceRupert Everett; Director: Tanya Wexler. The DVD extras include excerpts from a documentary about the history of the female orgasm.
[10] While the film takes dramatic and comedic license with history, sexual stimulation was the standard practice for “Hysteria.”
[11]DragonHeart (Roth Films 2012); Dennis Quaid, Dina MeyerSean Connery; Director: Rob Cohen[11]
[12]Snow White and the Huntsman: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth. Director: Rupert Sanders
[13]Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer known for it’s extravagant musicals.

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Cranky Women 2

Originally posted August 11, 2014, reviewed and revised in light of the current political climate

Stalwart Women

Stalwart Women.

In his blog entry “Understanding Angry Old White Men” of August 10, 2014, my friend Dr. Gerald Stein stated: “Males pass through a stage of feeling almost invulnerable and immortal, at least on occasion. They rush to fight wars, compete for mates, and try to climb higher than others. Women perform a selection of these tasks, but few teenaged girls believe themselves indestructible.”1   I recommend that all adults, regardless of age or gender. read his entire article.

Although the thrust of his insightful article captured the human condition, pointing to the physiology of age and the effect of retirement on his defense mechanisms as the source of rage in men of advancing years, Gerry makes rather broad assertions about women which may not hold up.

If in fact, women are the tougher sex, able to survive natural childbirth, “are better sports and, ironically, superior at ‘manning-up’ to the depredations of time,1” it must be a function of what society expects of them. A staple “joke” in modern sitcoms, is set up by the man stating a decision appears not to be thought out very well and each time the woman states a cogent opinion, the man responds with increasing dismissiveness until she finally utters, no matter how calmly she speaks, the kernel of truth that cannot be argued away, he shouts “I can’t discuss this with an irrational woman.” Both men and women laugh; most men because they believe the description of women; women recognize the behavior of men. Still, it’s not really funny that a dismissive attitude toward women is an integral part of our culture.

As for women being “superior at ‘manning up’ to the depredations of age,” we have developed a multizillion dollar cosmetics industry and long ago learned that complaining about something like effects of age, more often than not, fell on deaf male ears; if we were heard, we were subjected to degrading baby-talk or demoralizing vitriol. The point is, women are not “manning up,” but giving in: spending time, effort, and remarkably large sums on cosmetics, fashion, and elective surgery, just to fulfill society’s only expectation for women: to attract a man.

Though the women who are now sixty years and older have been coouseled, often from birth, to lay back, be good little girls, play with dolls rather than water guns, hold their tongues, and restrict their thoughts and aspirations, some women have been blessed with the type of personality that allowed them to blaze trails through jungles of testosterone, regardless of the roles their mothers modeled for them. Still, we’re not out of the woods yet. To wit, the Verizon commercial2 reminding parents that daughters really do listen to them when they give messages that essentially tell them to flush their potential down the toilet.
Verizon GirlAnd, I can’t help thinking that familial abuse –s o distressingly prevalent – figures into any tendency to feel vulnerable more than the accident of gender. “In 1940, [Carney] Landis published his findings in two related studies, the first of 153 ‘normal’ women and the second of 142 psychiatric patients, reporting that 24% of these subjects reported being sexually abused as children. Later in 1956, Landis expanded the study to 1,800 college students, discovering that 35% of the females . . . had been sexually abused at an early age.”3 The U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Statistics estimates that nearly two of every three female victims of violence were related to or knew their attacker and in 92% of all domestic violence incidents, crimes are committed by men against women.4 According to “RAINN” these days, 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. Can you imagine how much more were kept as tortuous secrets in the 40s and 50s5  — by men as well as women.

Without these influences, females might well think of themselves as indestructible. In fact, sometimes you just need to look at some of the self-destructive activities some women of all ages participated in before we were put in the position of having to unite, fighting for our very lives. Maybe now, we really do feel as immortal as our male counterparts did in their youth. Clearly, the male in the White House and his minions must be feeling particularly mortal these days. Why else would they need to eviscerate everyone else to feel successful?

Drumpf’s Hit Squad

Now, the ultra male, white supremacist administration wants to bomb women back to the stone age. To be fair, they are screwing up everyone, stripping the safeguards that protect the environment, keep the workplace safe, and help workers support themselves. Not to mention making good education for the masses harder to find.

We’re not better at accepting anything, we’ve just been annealed to the ravages of age — and males.

***

Photo Credits:
A montage of women who led the way: Left to right from top: Sappho, Venus, Joan of Arc, Eva Perón, Marie Curie, Indira Gandhi, Venus of Willendorf, Wangari Maathai, Mother Teresa, Grace Hopper, Mamechiho a Geisha, a Tibetan farmer, Marilyn Monroe, Oprah Winfrey, Aung San Suu Kyi, Josephine Baker, Isis, the Queen of Sheba, Elizabeth I, a Quechua mother. Sourced from Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women
The girl from the Verizon Commercial
President Trump’s Misogynistic Hit Squad discussing the Future Of Women’s Health Care, sourced from many Facebook memes.
Notes:
1. Dr. Gerald Stein: – “Blogging About Psychotherapy from Chicago”; http://drgeraldstein.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/understanding-angry-old-white-men
2. Verizon Commercial 2014 “Inspire Her Mind”
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glK9MygRQ8M?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent]
3. Cynthia Crosson-Tower, Confronting Child and Adolescent Sexual Abuse, Thousand Oaks, California : SAGE Publications, Inc., 2015
4. From the U.S. Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Violence against Women: A National Crime Victimization Survey Report, January 1994.”
5. Rape Abuse & Incest National Network https://rainn.org/statistics

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Hard Choices

Hard ChoicesI’m about halfway through Hard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton[1], having finished her Living History[2] not long ago, and I’m impressed not only with her experience and thought processes, but with her writing as well. She gives each event personal as well as diplomatic importance without leaving the reader with the sense that it was all about her. In terms of the diplomatic, she spoke in as much detail about her successes in Living Historyvarious parts of Arabia and elsewhere in the world as of her frustrations attempting to broker an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, a sad saga of bad timing and external pressures. Though possibly it shouldn’t have, her descriptions of the old city of Sanaa, Yemen surprised me with its similarity to the Old City in Jerusalem even in regards to the clothes worn by both the Arab and Jewish women.

Even before reading her books, I could not understand why people would believe the picture conservative painted of her. I don’t understand why reasonable people persist in freezing at the wall of skew, exaggeration, and downright lies about Secretary Clinton. Like all of us, she’s made mistakes. Still, she takes responsibility for her own human fallibility, a stark departure from her sworn opponents who blame her and President Obama for some of their own more unconscionable actions.

Infrastructure JobsThe prime example, the attack on the US facilities in Benghazi, that resulted in four deaths, has been a cause celebre for Republicans who want to malign the President and Secretary. Though the 2012 tragedy in Benghazi was a direct result of acts of congressional austerity committed long before Obama took office and had already resulted in thirteen attacks on American embassies during which sixty people died[3]. Senate Republicans had thirteen opportunities to reconsider the cuts in the State Department’s security budget even before it could have occurred to them that Hillary Clinton would have to face those choices. And at every opportunity, they chose to ignore their mistake.

To me, admitting and learning from one’s mistakes is a strength too many politicians refuse to cultivate and the implication by one politician that it’s Clinton’s weakness rather than one of her Cost of trying to kill ACCmany strengths is almost laughable, given the number of mistakes he and his party have made and let go unchallenged. Still, partisan efforts continue to smear her with innuendo and unconstitutional leaks before the evidence has had a chance to be vetted. Not learning from this mistake by a Republican led congress has cost at least $7,000,000[4] (most of which could have been better spent rebuilding roads and not cutting human services) and the lives of sixty-four Americans (at a conservative estimate.)
email
Wikileaks, though already shown to have misrepresented some of the content of those now infamous emails[5], continues to release more documents in tantalizing bundles. Has no one heard of “chain of evidence”? Wikileaks has already proven themselves to be unreliable.

My cousin, a long time conservative, thinks I hate all Republicans and blame them for everything that goes wrong. Frankly, I used to be a Republican when, as it turns out, being Republican did not mean being a neoliberal, anti-union, self-serving obstructionist. When I was — what? — seven-years-old, I would have voted for President Eisenhower. I liked Ike. Today, I’m also having a load of trouble with (at least) one Democratic mayor who’s screwing with teachers as if he were a Republican. No, it’s not Republicans, but the pretenders to sane political thought and process that gall me.

Republicans in congress have spent millions of dollars of public money — not trying to nail HRC — but trying to make her look bad enough that die-hard conservatives and overly idealistic progressives will distrust her — despite reports of nonpartisan fact-checkers that state she has more integrity than most of those in national politics. According to Politico, she tells the truth 73% of the time[6] compared to her opponent Pants on Firelying 70% of the time[7], and all the fact-checkers say the FBI has exonerated her of wrongdoing in the ridiculously inflated email scandal.[8] And, worse, Republicans continue to accuse her of being responsible for the deaths in Benghazi. Even the quality of their untruths differ. According to the Detroit Free Press, “Clinton’s untruths occur with way less frequency, and many fall more naturally into the category of embellishment or distortion rather than outright lie.” [9]

Perhaps the Benghazi noise is just their way of distracting us from republican “austerity” cuts which injured not just the State Department’s security budget,  but Medicare and Medicaid as well. Republicans blame that on the Democrats too. They’ve done such a good job of brainwashing the voters who have much to fear from Republican policies concerning wages and other aspects of the economy that some of their followers are champing at the bit to start another costly investigation into why Clinton and President Obama were not in the Oval office on 9/11.[10] May I respectfully suggest to them that it was because then sitting President George W. Bush hadn’t invited them.

The military solution is usually a disaster as in Viet Nam all those years ago. No one has ever successfully explained to me why we were a) fighting an undeclared war, and, even more demoralizing, b) fighting someone else’s battle when the Viet Namese civilians made it clear, almost daily, they didn’t want us there. However, as Clinton points out, a well-trained military like ours can be the best choice, no matter how hard, in a case like getting bin Laden.      

I won’t get into whose vacuum opened up a space for ISIS and ISIL to pour out — even though their first appearance was before President Obama took office — yet the Republicans blame them on the stalwart team of Obama and Clinton. Still, what I’m most interested in are the cases in which soft diplomacy (people talking) succeed, cases in which human beings interact. Specifically instances like Burma and Pakistan when human rights and democracy prevail, soft diplomacy was vital to the resolution when hard diplomacy (military action) could have easily ended in disaster.

What surprises me most about Hard Choices, is that diplomacy is not primarily a formulaic, even formal process with the detailed and precise language of treaties and other international papers. Perhaps it once was, but now it seems that, in most cases, it’s two or more human beings getting together in myriad types of settings learning how to communicate. Sometimes, the more tense situations require the repetition of specific, clear wording, but those seem to be limited to the more frustrating difficulties.

Human interaction is still the best path avoiding the military solution. Films with battles and bloodshed may seem more interesting than biographies or quiet histories, but the focus on successful human communication teaches us about ourselves and how we can be better people. Even before reading her books, I could see that the false image of Hillary Rodham Clinton projected by frightened Republicans and other conservatives with a lot to lose from a progressive government did us all an injustice. It doesn’t fit with the true image of her service: standing up for women all over the world, helping them find economic and personal autonomy; standing up for first responders and for her imperiled state of New York after 9/11; all the way back to when she personally went from school to school rooting out systemic racism. And probably even before that. None of this fits the picture of her conservatives have drawn in their own image propagated within their politics of selfishness. 

HRCAfter all of this, can the rift between conservatives and progressives be healed? As I read Clinton’s books and discuss them, I think we need to adopt the soft diplomacy approach. In describing those highly effective, informal diplomatic conversations — human beings getting together in myriad types of settings  — Secretary Clinton may have designed a way to bring the country together after the bitter conflagration of the 2016 election.

Human Rights Commission

“Women’s rights are human rights . . . ”
hear the whole speech at: http://tinyurl.com/ClintonHumanRightsSpeechMP3

Notes:
[1]http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17727276-hard-choices?ac=1&from_search=true
[2]http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56073.Living_History?ac=1&from_search=true
[3]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Benghazi_attack
[4]https://www.quora.com/How-much-money-has-the-U-S-Congress-and-Senate-spent-investigating-Hillary-Clinton-and-what-has-the-country-gained-from-these-investigations
[5]http://www.newsweek.com/vladimir-putin-sidney-blumenthal-hillary-clinton-donald-trump-benghazi-sputnik-508635
[6]www.politifact.com
[7]www.politifact.com
[8]http://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/05/fbi-director-james-comey-has-concluded-the-investigation-into-clintons-emails.html
[9]http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/07/opinion/sunday/clintons-fibs-vs-trumps-huge-lies.html?_r=0
[10]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_l4zi4p9WI&t=54s This video has been edited, no longer showing the interviewer pressing the supporter about his concern that Obama and Clinton were not in the oval office on 9/11. When asked straight out if he wanted an investigation, he said yes, he most certainly did.

Media Credits
Secretary of State portrait and at the 1995 UN Conference on Women in Beijing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillary_Clinton
Pants on Fire truth-o-meter: http://wwwpolitifact.com
Infrastructure Jobs: http://www.sanders.senate.gov/
email: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Email

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What Are You Afraid Of?

Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II. A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

On December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the Constitution) was adopted, having been ratified by three-fourths of the states.

A lot has been said about the second amendment – much of it willfully misinterpreted so that any lunatic or terrorist can acquire a gun, or multiple guns, to use at will. Whatever it’s called, the gun of choice for terrorists and mass murderers was created specifically for the purpose of killing as many humans as possible in the shortest possible time. To allow those weapons off the battlefield is just wrong.

stg44-large

Neither the first or second amendment implies or avers the right to practice one’s religion with a gun. Anyone questioning that assertion should be kept as far away from weaponry as possible. Nor does either amendment imply any purpose for automatic weapons, which didn’t exist in those days (except possibly weapons from ancient times that cannot be reasonably considered convenient for anything but testing on the Mythbusters.) Far be it from me to tell the military how to run its business. However, it seems logical, if we’re going to teach people how to kill efficiently, we shouldn’t be surprised if they carry that behavior off the battlefield. Still, clearly, when warfare must happen, those stateside would be much better off if those weapons were only on loan for a soldier’s tour of the battlefield.

As if all of that was not distressing enough, the misrepresentations and distortions of both the First and Second Amendments are shouted over any disagreement. Free speech has been stretched beyond its limits. No longer the purview of callers into talk radio, thisScared_Child_at_Nighttime disgraceful practice has spilled over onto the floor of Congress: The 2016 Republican senate refused to do its constitutional duty to interview a nominee for the Supreme Court. The same politicians lie about women, Muslims, and people of color, and think it’s an effective use of our tax dollars to harass a White House hopeful and humiliate the head of the FBI. Another presidential candidate wrote a book called The Art of the Deal in which he says openly that if you tell a lie three times your prospect will believe it, then you go in for the kill by appealing to their fears.

PinocchioFox News has no compunction about spreading “pants on fire” lies 60% of the time[1]. A Republican senator said openly that congress would focus not on governing, but on making sure the Democratic president could not do his job. A plethora of Republican governors have lowered taxes on the rich and found their venue bankrupt. If the 2016 Republican presidential nominee and 40th President of the United States are any indications the way around deficits is to purchase goods and services and default on the payments. Moreover on June 30, 2014, in an effort to legitimize a previous, misrepresented ruling that corporations are people[2], a benighted Supreme Court of the United States ruled that money is a function of Free Speech.

corporatepeople
Republicans and conservative economists continue claiming cutting taxes for the rich is key to full employment, wealth for the masses, government flush with money, and a robust economy. In fact, Kansas Republican Governor Sam Brownback and the Republican legislature were so confident that slashing safety nets, cutting education, and spending a budget surplus on tax cuts for the rich would produce an economic bonanza, they gave the wealthy well over a billion dollars in unfunded tax cuts that starved the state’s economy of revenue. [3]

How does making education less available improve job prospects? Especially for good jobs. And how does preventing voters from entering the voting booth support Free Speech? Certainly, one U. S. political party is seriously confused on what Free Speech looks like:

Senator John Lewis and his Democratic collegues sit-in for Gun Control.

Senator John Lewis and his Democratic colleagues’ sit-in for Gun Control.

Worst of all is the wall of words used in congress to prevent a discussion of gun control on the floor of the senate after the abomination in Orlando. This process in which walls of words, like noxious gas, vomited out in an effort to silence rational response is much too similar to rape to be acceptable. The response was devastating, again proving that quiet voices speak the loudest.

Kuhn on shaky voice

Why

Click to see “Why Gun Laws Need to Change” video on “The Other 98%” Facebook page.

——
[1]http://www.mintpressnews.com/pants-on-fire-analysis-shows-60-of-fox-news-factsare-
really-lies/205563/ 787
[2]Hartmann, Thom. Unequal Protection: How corporations became “people” and how you can fight back. San Francisco, CA: Barrett Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2010.
[3]http://www.politicususa.com/2014/07/28/kansas-bankrupt-republicans-lying-taxcutting-reason.html

Media Credits:
Pinocchio – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lie
Scared Child -https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Scared_Child_at_Nighttime.jpg
Corporate Personhood – https://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/occupy-santaclara-corporate-personhood-reconsidered
Ids – http://imgur.com/gallery/MzoNfof
Sit-in for Gun Control – http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/22/politics/john-lewis-sit-in-gunviolence/
Gray Pather Maggie Kuhn – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/151926
Why Gun Laws Need to be Changed – The Other 98% – https://www.facebook.com/TheOther98/videos/1358714637472844/

Posted in constitution, economy, ethics, Free Speech, guns, hobgoblins, politics, powerlessness, violence | 3 Comments

Sanity?

The 2016 Republican Platform[1], the social solutions would legitimize the indefensible act of bullying of women, blacks, the LGBTQ, party_republicanand Muslims. Modern Republican behavior reflects bullying too, and their reliance on it. After the Orlando massacre of June 20, 2016, Republican Senate leaders bullied the minority by shouting them down to avoid a discussion of gun control. And to describe their mode of operations as “Rebirth of Constitutional Government,” as per one of the headings in the platform is particularly laughable given their refusal to do their constitutional duty regarding the SCOTUS nominee. In fact, all of the headings and subheadings in this platform are belied by the actions of some of the high profile Republican office holders over the last eight years. Though the platform is written to give the impression their plans are meant to benefit everyone, it’s hard to believe their ultimate actions would be designed to aid the lower and middle classes, when so many Republican-led states have been forced into bankruptcy and their assets sold off by policies of the very politicians given responsibility for the safety of all citizens.

Modern Republican economic protocols are depressing. Their rhetoric tells us some fairy tale about the benefits that will trickle down to benefit everyone in every class. In fact, almost every Republican action in this century and the latter half of the last one has been aimed at strengthening corporations and enriching billionaires. And the most damning thing about Republican, neoliberal economics is that they bring the whole country closer and closer to bankruptcy. The Cambridge English dictionary defines neoliberal as “supporting a large amount of freedom for markets, with little government control or spending, and low taxes.” Merriam-Webster online and Dictionary.com it only relates to liberals. However, as liberals don’t buy that philosophy, it’s a commonplace misconception. The latter two online sources also define Keynesian (see proper definition below) with wording more appropriate to neoliberal. It just sounds like someone is trying to confuse the issue.

Of the rise of neoliberalism, which goes back to the 1930s, Susan George, wrote in a paper to the Conference on Economic Sovereignty in a Globalising World, Bangkok, in 1999: “In 1945 or 1950, if you had seriously proposed any of the ideas and policies in today’s standard neo-liberal [sic] toolkit, you would have been laughed off the stage [. . . ] or sent off to the insane asylum.
At least in the Western countries, at that time, everyone was a Keynesian[2], a social democrat or a social-Christian democrat or some shade of Marxist. The idea that the market should be allowed to make major social and political decisions; the idea that the State should voluntarily reduce its role in the economy, or that corporations should be given total freedom, that trade unions should be curbed and citizens given much less rather than more social protection–such ideas were utterly foreign to the spirit of the time.[3].”
1956_platform_meme

As late as 1956, Republicans supported workers and unions. Politifact said the meme about what they fought for in that election cycle was generally true. Even President Reagan once said that freedom could not survive without collective bargaining. It’s sad to see how far they’ve strayed.”[4]

Hooverville

Hooverville home to the homeless in of the 1930s.

CoolidgeThe stock market crash of 1929, which sparked the Great Depression happened late in the term of Republican President Calvin Coolidge a “pro-business conservative who favored tax cuts and limited government spending.”[6] The next president Republican HooverHerbert Hoover didn’t take The Depression seriously at first, and then made it worse by continuing to ignore it and foisting responsibility on states rather than investing any of the federal government’s resources to balance the economy.[7]

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal put people back tFDRo work, and supported the middle and lower classes. By the time I came into the world, white people and a few others had reclaimed confidence in their own economic situation, and were buying homes and investing in the economy as consumers.

History

As lifestyles became more about excess, the economy began to drop. President JimmyCarterCarter used the zero-based budgeting to reign in government spending. His conservative administrative methods began a slow rise in the economy; it wasn’t fast enough.

In the late 20th Century, Republican Ronald Reagan used his party’s Reagansupply-side tactics which gave a moderate increase in employment, but increased homelessness to a point that we saw more living openly in the streets, shockingly reminiscent of the Great Depression. In his two terms, as President, Reagan cut the budgets of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (by 40%), the Department of Commerce (by 32%), the Department of Agriculture (by 24%), the Department of Education (by 19%)[8] When Reagan took office in 1981, the federal debt was down to $994 billion and had grown to $2.9 trillion by the time his second term ended in 1989.[8]

debtchart
His deregulation, continued by his successors, allowed banks and Wall Street to scam and connive, again weakening the middle class, and worsening the situation in the lowest classes. In my lifetime, Republicans have consistently tried to diddle the middle class while screaming at the evils of Communism. Yet, an article on Quora.com said, though it’s only one of two reasons, “Communism is usually a response by the poor and oppressed when poverty and oppression reach a breaking point.” In other words, the distribution of wealth has been used by the wealthy (in the case of Russia, the Czars’ family) against the lower class, to the point where the middle class no longer functions as a buffer between the upper and lower classes.”[9] Still, the Republicans gouge the middle class.

ClintonDemocrat Bill Clinton is credited by Forbes as having the best record on the economy of all the presidents from Nixon to Bush “Clinton’s two terms in office (1993-2001) were marked by strong numbers for gross domestic product (GDP) and employment growth and especially for deficit reduction. His overall ranking puts him first among the ten postwar presidents ahead of Lyndon B. Johnson, Kennedy, and Reagan, who were tightly grouped behind the 42nd president . . . .”[10]

Though generalizations are limiting, it’s reasonable to state that from the mid-Twentieth Century to date, the Republican party has tanked the economy and Democrats pulled it out of jeopardy. Yet the Republican party continues its rape of the federal and local economies.

The rise of neoliberalism, in terms of public opinion, a Gallup Poll published around the time of the Forbes article (7-20-2004) indicated “that Americans rank John F. Kennedy  slightly ahead of FDR, and both of them ahead of Reagan.” While it may be a preference of the majority for Progressive philosophy, more likely, the majority of citizens define a booming economy as one in which more people are buoyed by it.

Today it is more than the economy that’s at stake. However, the Republican nominee has chosen to lay out few specific plans ― let alone a practical course of action for the economy. A sane candidate would feel hampered by a party platform that does not address many practical issues. However, it is designed to vilify while simultaneously appearing to alleviate the fears of those they’re trying to scare. For example, like the Republican’s North Carolina bathroom law[11], which was touted as protection from transgender “predators” in public bathrooms. However, the true purpose, stated in the second part, was to prevent local governments from raising the minimum wage or pass laws to increase safety for minors in the workplace. As they’d hoped, that part went virtually unnoticed until it was too late.

In the presidential race, the Republican nominee has effectively vomited out his own lack of platform, and done his little monkey dance to distract from the Democratic nominee who has articulated specific plans that would add to President Obama’s improvements in jobs and the economy. (The economy has added more than nine million jobs, and the jobless rate has dropped to below the historical median.”[12]). One would hope that the more public tantrums he forced on us, the less likely we would have to worry about the Republican platform. However, the reality is, we’re stuck with something significantly worse than what was promised.
Pyramid_of_Capitalist_System

      Notes

1 https://prod-static-ngop-pbl.s3.amazonaws.com/media/documents/DRAFT_12_FINAL[1]-ben_1468872234.pdf, http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/neoliberal
2 “Keynesian economists often argue that private sector decisions sometimes lead to inefficient macroeconomic outcomes which require active policy responses by the public sector, in particular, monetary policy actions by the central bank and fiscal policy actions by the government, in order to stabilize output over the business cycle.” Quoted in Wikipedia. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keynesian_economics) from Sullivan, Arthur; Steven M. Sheffrin (2003). Economics: Principles in action. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-063085-3.
A Short History of Neo-liberalism: Twenty Years of Elite Economics and Emerging Opportunities for Structural Change by Susan George, Conference on Economic Sovereignty in a Globalising World Bangkok, 24-26 March 1999. http://www.globalexchange.org/resources/econ101/neoliberalismhis
4http://shoqvalue.com/ronald-reagan-where-collective-bargaining-is-forbidden-freedom-is-lost/
5http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/calvin-coolidge
6http://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/new-deal/resources/herbert-hoover-great-depression-and-new-deal-1931%E2%80%931933
7Veronique de Rugy, “President Reagan, Champion Budget-Cutter,” American Institute for Public Policy Research website, June 9, 2004.
8https://www.quora.com/What-factors-political-social-and-economic-led-to-the-rise-and-spread-of-Communism-in-Asia
9http://www.forbes.co10m/2004/07/20/cx_da_0720presidents.html
10http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2015E2/Bills/House/PDF/H2v0.pdf
11http://www.factcheck.org/2016/01/obamas-numbers-january-2016-update/

    Photo Credits

Republican logo: http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0881985.html
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2014/oct/28/facebook-posts/viral-meme-says-1956-republican-platform-was-prett/
Calvin Coolidge: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvin_Coolidge
Herbert Hoover: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Hoover

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_D._Roosevelt
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Carter
http://www.facebook.com/TheOther98/photos/a.115969958413991.17486.114517875225866/1768348576509446/?type=3
Debt chart: https://www.quora.com/What-factors-political-social-and-economic-led-to-the-rise-and-spread-of-Communism-in-AsiaHooverville: http://hoovervillehistory.tripod.com/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Carter
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Clinton
Pyramid of the Capitalist System:
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pyramid_of_Capitalist_System_-_bulgarian.jpg

Posted in debate, economy, ethics, politics, proper response, Supreme Court | 2 Comments

Gingy

Gingy
I’m missing Gingy something awful! Her gentle eyes and smile, they way she danced around when anticipating a treat belying her sixteen years which would be 75, 85, or 95 human years — depending on which website you consult — I even miss the way she’d fuss in the car.

From the beginning, the firing up of the engine would prompt whimpering and her Beagle-like warble which continued until we reached our destination. On the way home, I would notice how calm she was, as if anticipating being back in her bailiwick. The last three car trips she took, that behavior was reversed. It wasn’t until it was all over that I realized it probably meant she was aware her time was limited.

When she came to me, she’d spent a week or two in the hospital directly from a long time in the “wild.” The quotes reflect the animal communicator’s assertion that some of that time was spent as a guest in someone’s backyard. Still, she was found wandering around the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago in a dazed condition. My friend Carol saw a woman carry her off the railroad tracks, but poor Gingy staggered into the busy street. Carol ran out and picked her up. She found the woman and asked if she wanted to take her, but being on the way to work she couldn’t. Carol took her to her vet and sprang for medical and dental attention for the abscess that had worn through her cheek. Given her seven cats, Carol couldn’t take her home so she uploaded Gingy’s beautiful mug to Facebook.

As the name in the microchip was something that could be taken as insulting, Carol asked me what I wanted to call her. I told her I’d have to think about it. I stared at her face and its gentleness which reminded me of my mother. Though I wondered about the propriety of naming a pet after a parent, I couldn’t give up the opportunity to sing “G-I-N-G-Y. G-I-N-G-Y. G-I-N-G-Y. And Gingy was her name-o” for someone other than my departed Mom.

Lucky me! About a week before my home was ready, Gingy came to me: cataracts, arthritis, heart condition, reported deafness, sweet disposition, gentle eyes, beautiful face, radiant smile and all!

When she’d had a moment to get used to her surroundings, we drove her, whimpering and warbling to the natural pet store and, of course, the staff was taken by her. We stopped at a drug store on the way home and picked up a big blue pillow for her bed.

She trotted around her new home, passing the pillow once before stopping to regard it, then climbing up and falling asleep. Boy, did I wish I had a camera! The first of many times. Another happy surprise, I clapped my hands once and she turned around. So much for being deaf. We suspect she learned to ignore certain noises while living on the street.

She came to live with me in February of a particularly cold winter. Getting her out in the snow was nearly impossible. In our whole six months together, I only saw her relieve herself outdoors once. The rug was nearly carpeted with training pads, but she still managed to christen the carpet in between the 1.5′ squares. Why not? I suspect while I was treating her for hitting the pad, she seemed to take it that her good fortune was for the bodily functions themselves. As time went on, Gingy drank more and more water. I thought perhaps, she was training me to give her more treats.

As we got to know each other better and the weather became less brutal, her life was filled with treats and massage. Even in good weather, she seemed to prefer to stand at the open balcony door and watch life go by. She got out occasionally, but still with a reluctance that made me less inclined to force her out. I’d feel the same if I’d been homeless as long as she had been.

Homeless, apparently, did not mean starving. Everyone kept telling me she was overweight and I needed to feed her less. I wasn’t feeding her so much that it seemed an issue. Although, I was making her hamburger or chicken to put on her prescription dog food. She rarely finished the dog food, usually only if it were laced with powdered probiotic and prebiotic. Or if I had to be out for a long time.

She particularly liked beef and chicken. Wellness has “Petite Treats” at four calories a pop. Most of them have ginger or spearmint, and hardly smell like dog food at all. With her lost teeth, she wasn’t eager to chew a lot of the crunchy treats, but she ate them with relish for the fowl. However, as time went on, she appreciated them more.

The second time we saw one of the vets at the local hospital, she took me aside and said when she’d first seen Gingy she’d though we’d only have a few weeks at best. At that second meeting, she saw Gingy’s new found energy and revised the prognosis. She thought she’d have several months — maybe even nearly a year.

As Carol said, we always knew it would be a short gig. The reason she’d rushed to bring us together was she wanted her to have a quality life at the end. Over our six months together, Gingy flourished for five months. Then in July, she began to fade rapidly. As long as she relished her treats and meals I steeled myself to her uncooperative hips and periodic breathing issues. Even when I’d rush her to the vet for issues I did not need to worry about, her problems were adding up.

In the second to last week of July, one of the vets decided to x-ray her chest because of the cough they’d attributed to her heart issues. The black spots on her lungs might have indicated an infection, heart failure, or cancer; so they sent us home with an antibiotic, a heart medication, and something else — I forgot what it was for immediately. Though we were told to come back in three or four days, there were too many emergencies in this summer of dog flu. We couldn’t get an appointment until a week later. On the last Thursday of July, the vet confirmed it was cancer, but could not say whether the lungs were the primary site or it had metastasized from somewhere else.

Now, the vet said, all we could do was spoil her until her quality of life was gone. She could even OD on the beef Joint Rescue treats ( without being hurt by too much glucosamine condroitin.

That night, for the second time in our life together, her stool looked suspiciously dark and in the morning there was fresh blood. I called the vet. Though she said they had meds that would fix the symptom, I postulated that, being the second time, her colon may have been the primary site of the cancer. Add to that how much trouble she was having getting her back legs to stand and stay up, it was probably time. Besides, I’d seen people go through cancer and enough was enough. She made an appointment for us the following day.

Other than beef treats and hamburger meals, she hesitated over food, if she took it at all. So, on the rare occasion she came over for a treat or a forehead massage, I’d either give her the Joint Rescue or make her hamburger and rice. By breakfast time, she was leaving more hamburger in her dish.

One of the women from the office brought me papers to sign and said for $100.00 more (I’d asked about prices) I could take her ashes home after cremation. Not my style.

Carol and her husband drove up from South Shore and my friend and neighbor Tammy, who works with Adopt-a-Pet, met us there. Gingy was never alone and from the moment we left the house. She was surrounded by loving friends as the tech tried twice to insert the IV before succeeding on the third try.

When the attending vet came in, she hugged me. I said, I knew it was late in the game, but if she wanted to talk me out of it, I’d listen. She said it was the right decision, the time had come, and I was disappointed.

Then, having learned I’d never been through it before. She explained what would happen. In a three shot procedure, she would be sedated and fall asleep. Then, the doctor would inject a saline solution. That was the only time a needle touched me. I had moved my hand to cup Gingy’s cheek.

By the third injection, my dear girl was snoring. I took it as a sign she was aware of four sets of hands on her — even of the five sets of weeping eyes. My forehead had been touching hers since the first shot. Despite her aging, dry nose that she had scratched raw over the months, refusing all attempts to coat it with petroleum jelly, she could smell my skin and breath. I don’t know whether she could hear at all by then, or if she’d just learned serenity in the face of scary noises, but I sang to her one last time: “G-I-N-G-Y.”

With the overdose of anesthesia, her tongue dangled between her teeth and she was no longer snoring. We continued to pet her and kiss her. The vet hugged me again and presented me with the plaster cast they’d taken of her paw while I was otherwise distracted. All the blankets, bowls and dog beds Adopt-a-Pet had lent me went back, but I kept Gingy’s collar, wrapping it around her paw print which I put in my parent’s breakfront where it is near me while I work.

GubGt7

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments