Monday, October 15, 2018

Brexiters: One foot in the grave, minds turned to dust



I'm sure that got your attention--either the headline or the flag of peace, freedom and prosperity.

Either way, it is my New York City native snarky way of saying Brexiters are over the hill and, better luck, there are not very many of them left. (Rest assured, I am an Irish citizen, and thus can and DO vote in all UK elections.)

A recent Clown Show in Totnes (also called Narnia by those who know--and it did vote Remain, and its Tory MP is actually a Remainer) was well attended. However, if Nigel Farage, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Wetherspoon greasy pub CEO Tim Martin think they can deliver the votes for a deadly nostalgic trip to the past via Trumpian rallies, they are mistaken.

The Leavers are mainly the Over-the-Hill gang. We wouldn't know that weakness so well except for the brave actions of David Chalmers, Lib-Dem standing for Parliament from Torridge and West Devon. 

I admit to being a Lib-Dem. To me, the term Liberal Democrat says it all. And it is the only major party that has been supportive of Remain from the start, almost completely. (Of course, they've made mistakes; who hasn't?) Full Disclosure: I will support Mr. Chalmers. The current MP is execrable. *


But the real salient fact is that he was brave enough to subject himself to the twaddle of Farage, the minging of Rees-Mogg and the grandstanding of self-glorified pub owner Tim Martin.

Here, then, is his very cogent report on the event.

_____



David Chalmers, Liberal Democrat and Remainer standing for Torridge and West Devon in the next snap election.
 
by David Chalmers
Standing for Torridge and West Devon in the June 8 snap election
Website:  http://tinyurl.com/y7bqt2mq

Yesterday afternoon I attended the "Brexit Roadshow" in Torquay. I had reservations about donating £5 to a cause that I obviously don't support and guess I could have watched the event online, but I wanted to get a feel of the atmosphere first hand. I am glad I did. The event was supposed to be sold out, and to be fair, once I was in the hall I only saw the occasional spare seat. The only person I saw under 40 was the man in his twenties, who took my money on the door.

That was the first thing that struck me--the lack of any young people in the audience and that I was probably amongst the youngest in the hall. The hall contained approx 1,500 grey haired men and women--mostly in their 60s and 70s--with far more people in their 80s and 90s than in their 20s and 30s. These are the people, taking it upon themselves to demand the right to decide the fate and future of the rest of the country. It was quite shocking, and I reckon that were the cameras to have panned the audience it would brought home to the rest of the country just what is going on here. An older generation trying to take the country back to some fantasy land of their childhood with no desire to look at reality or to accept the future.

Tim Martin of Wetherspoons, Farage and Rees Mogg were the main speakers, but before I comment on their individual speeches, what was apparent was that no-one was going to give any real facts. All speakers reverted to simple statements with no explanation or detail. We have heard "take back control, take back our fisheries, make Britain great again etc" all before, but there was no attempt to deal with all the challenges that the reality of Brexit has thrown up. In fact, when they did address those issues they chose to trivialise them. Martin actually claiming that the trade across the Irish Border was small and trivial, to be easily sorted, Rees-Mogg joking that a NO DEAL would mean a rise in the cost of caviar and that a few lorries might get delayed for a short time at Dover.

This was an audience that really believes that life will be better on our own, because they have no understanding of how the world works in the 21st Century--and neither do they want to know. There is an obvious mistrust and dislike of Europe and all things European, in contrast to the cheers when the Commonwealth was mentioned. But that does raise the question of what parts of the Commonwealth, bearing in mind that I saw not one non-white face in the hall.

That Tim Martin, a man who runs a chain of pubs, puts himself forward as the spokesperson for British business would be laughable, but these are not times to laugh, and the people listening to him didn't seem to care. He talked of switching to non-European products being served in his bars, as if this would solve all the problems Brexit poses for British companies. He even called for a general boycott of EU products and talked about upholding democracy. The best thing anyone wishing to defend the democracy of our country could do, would be to send him a message he would understand, do as I have done for the past two years and not set foot in one of his establishments.

Farage is ever the showman and he knows how to play an audience. His jokes about Theresa May did cause great laughter, but I was surprised that Rees-Mogg--although not on the stage at the time--was prepared to come on after the harsh criticism of his party leader.

Farage wants to revive "The People's Army" and called on everyone in the hall to write and go to see their MP--whose contact details were on a sheet on everyone's chairs. They hate Sara Woolaston and they hate the Chequers Deal and regard Theresa May as betraying the result of the Referendum. They just want to Leave the EU--and don't want to hear what this might mean in reality. To them they have achieved this wonderful thing, which they have all been striving for, for the past twenty years and don't want another Referendum--the people have spoken; now the politicians have to just get on with the job and make Brexit happen.

Its going to be interesting to see how many respond to Farage's call for them to get back out on the streets and resurrect the fight of two years ago. Are they up for it? There is nothing new in their arguments of two years ago--quite the contrary, as they are actually offering less of a vision. Farage's hint that this fight might go on longer than the next few weeks suggests that he is preparing to fight another Referendum. 

When Farage suggested that the Remain side were the aggressive ones,I wanted at that point to shout out,"Remember Jo Cox" and recall the number of times two years ago that I had a fist put up to my face.


After Farage, Rees-Mogg was quite a come down and his speech was much more subdued. His job was to tell the audience that Brexit was really a very simple thing to do and that it was being prevented from happening because his colleagues in Government were not really into the task. A No Deal scenario would not cause any long term problems. Obviously!!

So there you have it . The message is one of betrayal--as on the side of the bus--and they just want Leave and don't believe or want to know what this could mean for our country. I felt people were there for the entertainment and nostalgia as much as anything else. Not once were young people mentioned--there was no talk of opportunity, or the future. It felt like a mixture of attending a meeting of the flat earth society and the revival tour of a fading rock star. What we need to do is expose them to the rest of the country and put forward our vision for its future. 

We have to win this.

***

* (The current MP is Geoffey Cox, Conservative, who is reputed to be the richest serving MP, according to The Times; he was appointed Attorney General in July. Despite that, he reportedly once claimed 49p for milk. Time for this one-percenter to be replaced by someone interested in our welfare, not his own.)

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Trump's Military Parade: Rock/Hard Place for Democrats



The only sort of parade Cheeto ever ought to have, the only sort of image that does the monstrous blowhard's body and soul  justice.
Think about it:

If decent people--Democrats if you will--show up to protest the mere fact of the ludicrous military parade in honor of a five-time draft dodger who has yet to visit a single serving armed forces unit in the field, it will look as if we are protesting the armed forces. Granted, Democrats don't like deploying armed forces needlessly, as Republicans are wont to do. 

But nor do we dislike the military; indeed, we understand the need, some of us volunteer, many have gone when drafted, and we certainly support caring for the men and women who serve while they serve, after they serve and especially if they are wounded on our behalf. Decent people support the military even if they serve in an unjust war started by an immoral president, or even an unwise war begun by moral but deluded presidents. The current usurper of the title is more likely to be the first than the second; indeed, he seems merely to be awaiting instructions from Moscow.

But back to the military parade.

On the other hand, if we show up and do not protest, then The Magnificent Orange Crap Factory will think he is being feted for his astonishing conduct in office so far. Please note: I used the word astonishing, which may imply unbelievable bad or unbelievably good. In this case, you know which one to choose.

If we show up with protest signs, it must be clear that it is not the armed services to which we object. But how do we make that clear to thousands of military personnel with their minds on marching or driving machinery?

Or we don't show up, making it look as if the nation really does not appreciate its service men and women.

We are, to put it mildly, between a rock and a hard place. And it is not--believe me, bigly--within the scope of the tiny operating system of The Magnificent Orange Crap Machine to come up with a plan that, no matter how you work it, puts decent people in an untenable position vis a vis the military.

When I realized the rat hole the rat had created for us--his enemies, as he would have it and, yes, as it actually is--I also realized that The Magnificent Orange Crap Machine was not the author of this.

Nor was it his viewing of the French military parade when he visited Emmanuel Macron that led to his demand for a military parade.


It was Putin.

It could have been no one else. The shifty-eyed, megalomaniac runt has all the time in the world to plan the destruction of the US, and he has all the help in the world with The Magnificent Orange Crap Machine being so substandard, and all of the machine's operators--the Republican Senate, etc.-- colluding with Putin, either sub rosa or in plain sight.

It is an impossible situation. For those who permitted this travesty of democracy for this demonic excuse for a president, a man whose bloated carcass is so unlike those of serving military personnel as to suggest he is of a different species, I have nothing but contempt. They needed to stand up to the Flabovian Bloviator, and refuse to parade the US military as if they were a high school marching band that just bagged third place in the state competition. They needed to avoid giving the greedy toddler in the White House (temporarily) any more pandering to his grandiosity, any more excuses for his tantrums, any more events for his deceit. There is no doubt he will claim, whatever it ends up being, that it is the biggest, greatest, most magnificent military parade in the history of the world and that it is for him, ALL FOR HIM, because he is the smartest, the best, the most beloved leader in history as well.

I can say only this, in an attempt to be able to digest my dinner tonight: Pride goeth before a fall.

And The Magnificent Orange Crap Machine is nothing if not prideful. Whatever else it does, this parade will prove it--with, one hopes, a resounding crash within the sullied walls of the White House following close behind.


Copyright 2018, Laura Harrison McBride

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Tories are selling our bodies for money


This is what the UK needs, and what most of it wants.

There is always one prime cause for any government action. In the case of Brexit, it is the oldest and simplest: money.

As soon as it was known that the EU had voted to tighten restrictions on off-shoring--that is, avoiding taxes--on money, the Tories began planning Brexit. They ginned out the stuff about the NHS (National Health Service) because it is a UK hot button for everyone; they ginned out the stuff about immigrants taking British jobs because it was a hot button for those who had lost jobs as the world has changed; they ginned out the complete nonsense about sovereignty because they knew Brits to be ignorant about how the EU works, and about how often the UK had, in fact, had its proposals accepted and even had had many exceptions, VOTED on by the rest of the EU.

But there is only one thing they are after, only one: Keeping their tax havens intact. In other words, money. Untaxed piles of money.

For that, they are willing to destroy the UK economy; their own economy--the economy of the very wealthy--will get better as it erodes for the rest of us, because the world will beat a path to their door looking for tax havens. They will not beat a path to our doors so our employers can sell heavily duty-laden car parts or clothes or anything to the rest of the world.

For more money for themselves, they are willing to destroy the NHS: they NEED lots of us to die in order for their plan to work without decades of poverty-stricken people begging in the streets. No plague to do the job? No matter: Tories and the completely compromised Corbynistas will take active measures. No doctors, no health. Simple. However, if one can afford to pay privately....you see where this is going.

There is no other thing you need to know about Brexit except this:

THE TORIES AND THEIR CO-CONSPIRATORS HAVE CYNICALLY AND WITH PURPOSE AND ANIMUS CAST THEIR ENTIRE NATION ON THE DUNG HEAP IN ORDER TO CONTINUE ENRICHING THEMSELVES WITHOUT THE IMPEDIMENT OF HAVING TO CARE FOR A NATION'S POPULATION, THAT IS, THE REST OF US.

 
This is, unfortunately, what we are likely to get from May's incompetent government assisted ably in its incompetence by Jeremy Corbyn and the feckless Corbynistas.


For more information on the EU's restrictions on off-shoring, click here.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Brexit: Awkward attempt to make pigs fly

 
 Nor can it be declared a winner or a loser. Leavers could not answer these correctly; I doubt the Conservative Party could, either.


Last week, I complained to the BBC about their constant pushing forward of everyone's favourite Putin Puppet, Nigel Farage. Among the useless paragraphs they returned to me was this one:
 
"Although Nigel Farage has never been elected to the House of Commons, he has been an MEP since 1999, and was an influential party leader in UKIP for several years. While Mr Farage may be a controversial figure to some, he has undoubtedly had a significant impact on British and European politics over recent years. Mr Farage led his party’s calls for a referendum on British membership of the EU, and during the referendum campaign he was a key campaigner for Brexit, the winning side." 

Note, please, they avoided mentioning his party was the fascist front, UKIP. They made it sound as if he were a REAL politician from a real party anyone would want to be involved with.

The entire exercise, both complaining about their bias and their useless reply, was bad enough.


But then, I noticed what they actually said, little enough though it was. They said he was a "key campaigner for the winning side."

The winning side? I'm sorry, did I miss something? Wasn't this an ADVISORY referendum? In other words, they were seeking people's opinions. Is it possible to have a winning or losing OPINION?

No, it isn't. There is no such thing as a winning or losing opinion; opinions simply exist, in their own right, exercising influence on others only when those others choose to accept this or that opinion. Often, an opinion just sits idly, with no one except he or she who authored it choosing to be influenced by it. IMO, famous social media abbreviation for In My Opinion did not arise because people thought they were offering facts, which can be right or wrong, and one supposes winning or losing. They were offering goal-neutral OPINIONS.

On that basis alone, the UK government must abandon its activities based on the opinions we offered in the referendum, and certainly, no action can logically or ethically be initiated based on a bunch of opinions one way or the other. 

If they fail to understand the principle--that an opinion cannot, by definition, be an impetus to group action--then one would have to consider the referendum binding, even though it failed to meet the criteria for binding referenda, such as a certain percentage needed to carry the action, percentage of voters who must have participated, etc. 

If the referendum were binding, then the egregious and criminal activities of the two Leave campaigns would automatically cancel the results of the referendum, as I understand it, and it would need to be run again. Preferably minus Cambridge Analytica and, for the sake of all our dinners staying down, without the witless features of cigar-chomping, Putin-pandering, LePen-loving Nigel Farage being plastered all over the telly and the gormless info-tainment rags the Leavers prefer to read so they may continue to reside in the United Kingdom of LaLa.


Sadly, as the referendum was not binding, the electoral issues do not automatically negate the result. BUT....and it's the biggest but and I fail to understand why no court and not even the EU has pointed this out...no action can logically be taken and no change in the status of the UK vis a vis the EU can be predicated upon it.

In short, the limbo we are in because of the total incompetence of Mrs. May and all her mentally deficient and emotionally maladusted minions is actually nothing next to the limbo we are in because the Conservative Party, aided and abetted by a Labour Party that bears as much resemblance to a labour-supporting organization as I do to the Eiffel Tower, chose to treat a non-binding referendum as if it were binding. It is an untenable position, and frankly, they are too dense to know it. The fact that the things they are trying to construct are mutually exclusive...even that, they have failed to figure out.

Please, if there is a god, let him or her swoop in on wings of intellect and anoint the brow of one, single, charismatic, fully-functioning earthbound being who can get the realities through the heads of the Tory politicians who have made a meal out of creating chaos, and through the skulls of the Leavers who bought the lies and airy-fairy promises. And then perhaps the god will have given us an actual leader. 


I think I'll offer the traditional "thoughts and prayers":
Surely, great Spirit, you have some tidbits of Churchill left around that you could implant in a worthy human...if you can find one of those.  And if I may be so bold, could you ensure that you implant them in a brown, yellow or black UK subject? After the two-year beating we have endured from the Pharagist Phascist Phalanx, it would be lovely to have a little comic relief with our salvation.




Deus ex machina and all that.  PLEASE.


###



Copyright 2018 by Laura Harrison McBride






Why Trump got elected




Why Trump won:

Russian meddling was part of it. But there were also these factors:
  • The inability of so many Democrats to vote for a candidate who was very good, but not a saint. 
  • The inability of so many Democrats to get out the door and actually vote. 
  • The ill-advised entry, into so incredibly meaningful an election, of a man (Sanders) whose time had passed; ego transcends party. 
  • A sham candidate in the form of Jill Stein; had we understood the photo of her dinner engagement at Putin's table, would we have been so naive? Would even the greener than Greens been THAT naive?
And there was also the monkeying with the Diebold voting machines, those miracles of modern technology via which programmers can insert code to turn every 5th (or whatever seems right) vote for a Democrat into one for a Republican, and of course, to be tedious, the Russians hacking into the voting apparatus of several states. One of them, Ohio--a large state, a Democratic state--went to great lengths to convince people it could not be hacked. It could.

Better dead than Red has a new meaning

The following states went Red in 2016:  Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. 

Four of those states, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Wisconsin, had voted Democratic in presidential elections since 1992. It amounted to 56 electoral votes for the Republican candidate. Ohio, which had been a true swing state during the time period--and is virtually always mentioned in relation to difficulties with its voting machines--went Red.

Solid blue states, since 1992, had an aggregate of 242 electoral votes; solid red states over the time period had only 102.


In a fairly conducted election, it would seem next to impossible for a Republican to win, especially after Mr. Obama had resurrected Bush's disastrous Republican economy and restored international faith in the United States.

But the Russian meddling, the built-in ability to be monkeyed with of the Diebold voting machines, and even Mr. Comey's disastrously timed resurrection of the Hillary's emails meme did not win the election for Donald J. Treason.


Journalists did.

Or maybe, more accurately, the organizations employing journalists did.

I would like to know how many viable and well-supported stories lay on the newsroom floor after an executive editor, compromised by a golf friendship, axed them.

Here are a few tales from the (very minor) trenches to help you understand how imperative it is to have not only a free press in the sense of no government oversight, but a press in which the owners get the fuck out of the way of the news operation. At every level, but even more so nationally.

The best and biggest example, maybe

I was working at a daily paper in a medium-sized southern city when the editor got word that a major employer was shutting down. It would do a great deal of economic harm; could I substantiate the rumor, he asked. I could. I had a friend whose father owned a business in the industry in question, so I called in a favor and asked. BUT the father asked his name not be revealed. Oh, shit. Well, of course I guaranteed his anonymity; that's what journalists do, even knowing that if it comes to a court matter, the journalist will spend some time in the pokey if ordered to reveal the name and he or she refuses.

The article I wrote, sans the name of the source, went to the publisher first for review; the story was that big.  I suspect he knew my source was bona fide; he knew that I had turned in the newspaper itself for circumventing employee health insurance requirements in the state, and so I would hardly be afraid to publish based on information the source of which I could not reveal. Sure, I would risk jail; that's the job. But he nixed it. Why? Because the owner of the business in question was one of the publisher's golfing buddies.

When I had begun working there three years earlier, during week two, a local business had tried to dictate what I was going to write. I said no, and walked out of the interview. By the time I got back to the paper--a matter of possibly 6 minutes--the executive editor was at the door so he could tell me he had told the business to go cut bait. It was a real paper. So I stayed. 


But it was only real to the level of the executive editor; the publisher was the worst kind of sycophant, a good ole boy who would withhold the truth, as damaging as it was, for a round of golf.

I quit shortly after that.

Southern States


I withheld the name of the paper above because it still exists although it has changed ownership, and I have friends still working there, and it is not my place to put anyone there in a bind.

Southern States is a southern states agricultural supply company that also still exists, but it has closed down its magazine, Cooperative Farmer, and all the people I knew are well out of it, as far as I know.

In the 90s, for a scant year, I was the editor of Cooperative Farmer, a slick-ish thing that went to all the coop's members, which meant virtually any producing farm in nine southern states. My experience in ag was limited to riding, training and showing hunter-jumper horses, a very small part of their business, but I could write and edit and wasn't afraid to ask the hard questions, even of the 'used car salesmen' of ag, the prize beef farmers. So Southern States was happy to hire me. At least, the upper management was, the vp of communications to be precise.



I had been there a few months when the publisher asked me to get the goods on an organization called American Farmland Trust (AFT). So I did. It was supported by Rockefellers, who claimed to be farmers; well, they do own millions of acres of land in New York State and elsewhere, raising prize (which is to say, not food) cattle (see above). And by a slew of other people who really had nothing to do with agriculture. It has been 25 years since I wrote that article, so you'll excuse me if I don't recall all of them, nor want to spend time doing all that research again.

Anyway, my colleagues in the ag press were quite excited about my project; all of them loathed American Farmland Trust for what it was doing not only to land-use planning but to the viability of farmland in the US. American Farmland Trust, to this day, claims that it uses "conservation easements" to save farmland from being turned into housing estates. It makes payments to farmers in this regard; the money comes not from the monied few, of course, but from governmental sources. That is, the group of rich people who want to ensure the value of THEIR land use our tax dollars to manage farms and farmers in perpetuity, as that's what the easements require; perpetuity. AFT basically inserts itself, via those eternally binding easements, into local politics, without portfolio if you get the point. And they limit what sovereign farmers can do with their land from that point forward.

Sure, it looks good on paper; who doesn't want food and open landscapes and stuff? But it is actually an insidious way for the one percent to gain control of the only real form of wealth the rest of the nation has: land. 



Plus, every acre of farmland held FOREVER and unsaleable under a binding, irrevocable easement makes the rich folks' own acreage that much more valuable. Do this often enough, and you'll end up with nothing but virtual tenant farmers on land owned by the swells; in short, serfdom.
 
If you want to know where the few wealthy people of ATF are, click here. I can tell you that The Plains, Va, and Wilton, Ct. have nothing nothing like farmland as we know it. The Plains is all toney horse farms; Wilton is literally a suburb of New Haven with huge houses on large wooded parcels and not a stalk of rhubarb in sight. NY, NY has no farms; Boston has no farms, D.C. has no farms. Chevy Chase, MD, has no farms. San Francisco and Cincinnati have no farms. Aiken, SC, has mainly the same sort of toney horse farms as The Plains, Va.


What was AFT doing then? It was locking up farmland that was distressed, issuing leases that would save the farmer from bankruptcy, but abrogate forever his right to use the land as he saw fit, and also put it out of reach of development. 

That's a good thing, you say. Well, it can be. But when deciding which farms need to labour in perpetuity under an easement, it would be nice to have local government, the agricultural community, and the local community involved. Instead, via its national governmental connections and its enmeshment with a small group of wealthy individuals in almost every state, it is determining agricultural policy via the back door. So no. Just no.


I wrote an extremely well-supported article. After 6 weeks of research, I spent most of a Sunday night in the office, a sterile high-rise west of Richmond, perfecting it. It HAD to be perfect; it was incendiary.

And then the publisher made changes. The man couldn't edit to begin with, but what he did to that was horrific. He turned my very well-supported article (I even had quotes about the downside potential from a top Richmond Merrill Lynch broker) into a laudatory exercise about the holier-than-all-of us American Farmland Trust.



We had knockdowns about it. "It's not going out with my byline on it the way you've screwed it up," I yelled. He yelled that Cooperative Farmer never pulled a byline. And back and forth we went.

Of course, it went out with my byline on it and I fielded calls for the two weeks until my resignation notice was completed from ag press colleagues who were very, very disappointed in me.




Those are just two examples. I have literally a dozen more, from my own career...and, as noted, it was a minor one in secondary markets in the US or as a freelancer for US national publications. At no time did I gain any national press for myself. I just did the job, and, once, tried to teach it to another...and that is the story I will leave you with.




How bad are those boonies journalism schools, anyway?

One summer, my husband (also a freelancer) had more work than we could handle. So we hired an au pair, a college student from the Midwest who was majoring in journalism. We figured she could help with the house and the guests and the interviewees and also with the typing, filing, and making phone calls for appointments.

Halfway through the summer, I decided she could interview someone for a very small article about a tech subject. She knew we were hot after a particular new development, but the person she was interviewing was not likely to be involved. I thought. So it seemed safe.



When she was finished and I was debriefing her, she said, "Mrs. X mentioned that development you told me about, but she said her remarks had to be off the record. So I told her not to tell me."


You WHAT? I screamed.

"My professor said if someone said it was off the record, just don't let them tell you. Otherwise it was unethical."

"He's a moron," I said, or something to that effect. And then I explained what one does with off-the-record remarks. One remembers them, and then one verifies them, without revealing the source, via other means. It's called investigative reporting. It is not unethical, as long as you don't reveal where you heard the rumor.

I don't know if the young woman got the message; she ended up going to law school, and last I heard, she was a federal judge in the upper Midwest. Now that's a scary thought.




How Trump got elected

And that, friends and enemies, is how Trump got elected. Journalism had long since descended to a place where the owners and publishers are more interested in maintaining relations with their golf buddies than with providing essential information for readers. Most journalists who care about the profession have left, as far as I can tell. And there is, therefore, some reason to believe the Demented Orange Guttersnipe when he claims Fake News; it hasn't been really real since Midwestern colleges dumbed down and the New York Times hired Jayson Blair without checking his credentials.

You only get real news when management steps back and gives journalists not only free rein, but support and appreciation, for doing the essential public service of any democracy: providing accurate, timely information about wool about to be pulled over the public's eyes, about things that will hurt them, about things that will make them less free and limit their choices to those made for them by the monied class.


So now you know.

Where's Superman when you need him? Or even Clark Kent?



-30-

Copyright 2018 by Laura Harrison McBride

 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Factory of the Poor; Fascism


Two poor men and their dog. So, three poor sentient beings. And most people with money to spare walk by without helping.



Fascists hate poor people. However, in the usual illogic of people who have lost their souls, fascists create poverty,  which creates poor people.

Since I hate the fact of poverty for anyone, it is logical, then, to loathe those who create poverty for others while storing up untold riches--riches well beyond need--for themselves, that is, fascists.

I hate fascists with all my heart, with all the burning fury of someone who knew people who had been in "the camps" and had the tattoos on their forearms--people who had borne the worst humanity can deliver, and came out of it alive and productive, and often even happy. No one needs to achieve happiness by surviving fascists. 


I hate the fact that fascists create poor people.

Their greed kills off investment in anything except the baubles of civilization--paintings, gold--that they hoard. By the way, this, too, is a simplification. I'm sure there are rich people who are not, in fact, fascists. But since most rich people these days act like fascists, I'm going to consider them, for the sake of argument, to be the same.

I hate the fact that there are those who are silent, allowing the fascists to think that hating actual poor people is a fine thing for any human to do. 

I hate those who prefer being one of the fascists to being one of the poor. As Jesus said, the poor shall inherit the earth, but the fascists don't believe it.

If they deal with that theme at all, fascists think that the poor inheriting the earth means the poor should be buried in the earth well before time, and they do their best to make that happen.

While they will never face it, fascists will find themselves in the boneyard with the rest of us. They think they can avoid that by ensuring that others get there first, by denying health care to the poor, for example, hoping that sacrificing the poor will grant the fascists some sort of cockamamie eternal life.



I hate the fact that there are poor people in a world so abundant that it could feed, house, clothe and provide education for all the people on it, except for the interference of fascists.
I use the term fascist inclusively, by the way. I mean actual fascists, like Nigel Farage and Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. But I also mean fascist supporters like the Trumpanzees and Brexiteers. And I mean anyone who believes the following:

1. They are in any way better than anyone else.
2  They are willing to have a draconian government if only it will choose them as the "good" people and poor people or foreigners as the "bad" people. (You can see the problem here; we will all be foreigners if we leave the nation in which we were born, and therefore would have to hate ourselves if we chose to cross a border to live. Indeed, Boris Johnson, penultimate fool, is a foreigner in his own chosen country as he was born in the United States. The ultimate fool? Trump, of course.)
3. Killing another person for any reason is justifiable.
4. Some skin colors mean a person is smart, while others mean a person is stupid. (An exception: Orange-skinned people, so rare in human history that I can think of only one orange-skinned person, are unalterably and always stupid.)
5. They believe they are self-made as an excuse for not sharing with others. Did they have free public education, ride buses, take out a mortgage? They are not self-made; they are made the way the rest of society is made, by their own efforts and by the combined efforts of others in which they share although they won't admit it. No one built his or her own railroad; no one has a personal supermarket. EVERYTHING is group effort.





I'm sure I'm forgetting some of the earmarks of a fascist, but they will always display all or most of the above. So no matter.

What does matter is that I hate that there are poor people. I hate that so much that, from every book I sell in future, I will put aside ten percent and give it to organizations that help poor people. I will put aside another ten percent to help animals.

If I begin to make real money, then I will raise the donation. When I can live as I do now and still afford to give away 50 percent, then I will raise it to fifty percent, split between poor people and animals. And so on along the way. If I die tomorrow, well...at least the RSPCA will get a boost via my will.



I have never understood how rich people could hate poor people when--assuming that they really do hate poor people--the easy solution is to help people not be poor. Voila!  No reason for hatred. I have understood even less how those who are in or close to poverty can equally hate poor people, which they do by supporting such organizations as the Republican Party (GOP) in the US and the Conservative Party (Tories) in the UK.  Maybe they think wealth will rub off.



It won't. The ONLY thing rich fascists are good at is taking everyone else's money and making it disappear into a black hole. Trickle down? That theory was developed by the early GOP fascists for the senile Ronald Reagan, America's favorite clown, to popularize.


It is no more true than the idea of a prosperous Brexit, or a stupid astronaut, or a humane Trump or a strong and stable May.

I hate the fact that there are poor people. I am going to do everything in my power to ensure there are fewer than there are now, and that there are a lot fewer fascists, as well.


Copyright 2018 by Laura Harrison McBride

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Ireland, Despite it All



View from the tower of Dunguaire Castle, outside Galway, Ireland. (Photo by S.P. Tiley)
We are going to Donegal in about six weeks. Next door, Ulster--N.I.--is beginning to see the same sort of shitty partisan violence fostered by the thankfully late Ian Paisley; this time it is fostered by Brexit and by the unfortunately not late son of Ian Paisley.

We will go anyway. I went to Donegal many times during the Troubles that ended with the Good Friday Agreement. I drove through Derry, once complete with a British soldier getting into the car, a rental, with me to find the hood/bonnet release I couldn't locate. Yes, his submachine gun came with him. A bit scary.
 
If one didn't remain in Derry, one would be fine. One didn't leave a rental car unattended in NI at that time: either the Provos or the Orangemen would blow it up. So one just drove straight through.

Will I drive through it this time, even if we still have the French tags on our car (they are due to be replaced with UK ones soon, but I can't recall exactly when). 
 
During all those early trips, I was on assignment for US magazines, and being hosted/protected by the Irish Development Agency and Bord Failte, the tourist board. Plus, I was young and adventurous, the last pre-Good Friday Agreement trip through N.I. having happened when I was only 40. By the time of our 2006 trip, our honeymoon, the only difference between N.I. and Ireland was that, as one crossed the border on a main road, the road signs were different.

I do have a couple of assignments about Ireland as it happens, and the website that is paying me likes N.I. included, as the editors are  of the United Ireland persuasion, as am I. Maybe the Brexit threat will make it unite at last; maybe it will blow it up again. Damned if I know.
The author, huddled in the wind, atop Dunguaire Castle, Galway, Ireland c. 2006. (Photo by SP Tiley)
But one thing is certain: If we leave the UK again over Brexit, it will be to Ireland. It might even be to Donegal, which has the world's leakiest border with another sovereign state, N.I. (Although Ireland officially views it as an unfortunately temporarily separated part of itself, as do I.) We might choose Galway, though, because of the art and intellectual tone of that city, a city I have always loved anyway.
 
Lake in Connemara, near Kylemore Abbey. (Photo by S.P. Tiley)



I really need to return to my Irish roots. I think I've spent too long amongst the descendants of Oliver Cromwell, he who hung Irish Catholic heads on spikes in Drogheda to discourage the Irish from living as they liked in their own country. It still gives me chills to drive by the cathedral there, and it was in 1978 that I saw it the first time.

Simon was quite certain, before he went to Ireland on our honeymoon, that he'd be treated badly by the Irish. He wasn't. I knew he wouldn't be: I knew the Irish.

Now? Even on that score, I don't know. My relatives, whom we will see in Donegal, will be nice to him. The rest? I really don't know. I suspect they will be as they always have been, philosophical about things and people until shown the nature of the beast. They have 800 years of putting up with English idiocy and viciousness and somehow shrugging it off for nice people and taking it to the mat for stinkers. Simon is NOT a stinker.

The rest of the British? I wouldn't ask that question of me this morning: I'm not the least bit amused that the deplorable Tory horde has, through its greed and soul-deadness, caused the once and possibly future Troubles to rise again.

Copyright 2018, Laura Harrison McBride

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Hard Comfort, Long Earned

Hard Comfort, Long Earned



Watercolour sketch, Portmellon, UK, after a storm (C. LH McBride 2012)

The rain beat down as if it had nowhere else to be
but had to be somewhere,
and soon. A gully washer,
the Americans might have called it.
I called it a blessed cleansing
of a soul too full of sadness,
grief, strife.

I was happy to hear the rain.

Its pounding for an hour was
the best hour of a long,
cold, wet, wintry summer. It turned me.
Dragged me away
from long days of the past year
when my old dog died, an
old wound opened and kept me
hoping to cure it
with potions and lotions the entire twelvemonth,
my old horse—
my dear old beloved and forever missed
friend and partner, the magnificent beast who was the most
beautiful animal I have ever seen—
leant over on some
hay bales, or so his caretaker told me,
and died. He was old,
my horse, but never old enough. It had been a long
while since I'd visited him in his retirement.
He lived long,
and well, and for that
I am glad. He lives, my horse. Every
stride is etched into my mind and body. His smell,
so different from most horses' smells. Oh, yes,
we all say that. But
really, in this case,
true.
Ask anyone.

The rain pounding down, hard enough
to soak life into me again, though
I didn't go out into it. It was midnight. I was
not dressed. I slept
as the rain began to taper off,
woke later as the room got close and stuffy,
opened the window wider,
slept again.

That's how it goes these days. A little sleep,
a wakening, a
sip of water,
half a cookie, a trip to the bathroom. A dose
of Rescue Remedy to give me comfort. Or
any combination of those activities. Sometimes
a heartfelt mini-prayer:
Give it to God and go to sleep.
Always works. First one that
has.

I don't believe in God, not that wrathful,
authoritarian Xtian one, anyhow.

I never slept well, but never this badly. I was too busy,
too needful of sleep to support the enormous
raft of tasks it took me to keep my soul
and my horse's together. Less
dire this past decade, after a late third marriage to,
possibly,
my soul mate.
No matter. We are mated, for good or ill. For
good, I hope, in both senses of the word.
He is.
I must be.
He is a good man.

Age creeps up on one mainly in the night, when thoughts
turn to even greater age and the what-ifs arrive unbidden
in a mind softened by a nightmare, or the snoring of a mate,
or the rummaging of the spoiled dog in the bed, or by the
bladder. It isn't fear of death that makes old folks sleep badly;
it is the remembered fears of earlier life, anticipatory fear of
living longer than one can afford, physically, mentally, financially.

But rain, rain soothes. Rain keeps one in the knowledge of love
of life. It is a presence, not a void like silent sunshine. It bestows
blessings on all it touches, all who hear it, all who breathe in
its ozone scent. I think I shall hope it rains at the moment of my death,
hard. It is the only sound I wish to hear except my husband's voice
wishing me well and loving me still.

Copyright 2017 by Laura Harrison McBride

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Bagels

 
This is a proper plain NEW YORK bagel. Smooth, shiny, small and dense. You split it sideways, put each half into toaster, remove when ready, spread butter on each half and cream cheese on each half. You DO NOT mash them together like a sandwich. Are you crazy? If you've got loose fillings, you'll pull half of them out if your teeth are even sharp enough to handle both sides of a NEW YORK bagel at once.
I think I need to bitch about bagels. At Waitrose, my favorite UK supermarket, we can buy a bag of things the size of a dinner plate interestingly called New York Bagels. They come in bags of six.

If you drop a bag of six New York bagels on your foot, you'd better be wearing shoes or you might break a toe. New York bagels are small, dense and have a hard chewy-glossy shell. In fact, since the beginning of recorded time, mothers in New York City have provided their children who are losing teeth with a bagel for breakfast at the appropriate moment. Guaranteed, that loose tooth ends up in the bagel, no muss, no fuss.

If you drop the UK faux-New York Bagels on your toe, you won't feel a thing. Nor can you get your kids to painlessly yank out their own loose baby teeth with one.

Aside from those obvious failings, there's also the issue of getting UK bagels toasted. First, you have to get them into the toaster which, if it is a UK toaster, will not handle half a bagel per slot unless you squush them a bit. Then they won't pop up, and you'll need tongs to save your fingers. Really, they should be too dense to squush, but I repeat myself.

In the UK, please make sure you turn off the outlet into which your toaster is plugged before sticking tongs in there, or you might never get to taste those bagels. Unlike like US electricity which could give you a tingle if you had wet hands or something, UK socket juice can fry you. Don't believe me? Electricity in Ireland is the same. Watch the episode of Ballykissangel in which the Assumpta Fitzgerald character dies checking a fuse, and you'll get the picture.

Anyway, you've finally got the bagel halves out, and now you need to add butter and a schmear.
 
Properly schmeared bagel.

Butter, on a bagel, should not soak in much, but rather melt down over the sides of the glossy crust. Here, it soaks in, unfortunately, because it interferes with the schmear.. Here, when you've got your spatula nicely loaded with cream cheese--the schmear--it won't leave the spatula in anything like a smooth ribbon around the circumference of the half bagel. You end up, several minutes later as the bagel is cooling down--with lumps of cream cheese here and there around the circumference of the so-called bagel, which is now almost as cold as before you manhandled it into the toaster.* 

So you sigh, pick up your cup of coffee and so-called bagel, and go out to the greenhouse to enjoy the view of Dartmoor, the intermittent sunshine, the tiny wrens at the bird feeder and the song of birds in the hedge.

It's all good.

But I really did have to bitch about ersatz bagels. I'm a native New Yorker, after all.
A bagel with some topping or other, but being eaten properly, each side equally addressed, and addressed separately.
A travesty. If this were a real bagel, you couldn't eat it without risking your teeth. But it isn't a real bagel; far too many air holes and that crust doesn't look chewy to me.
* I've written about our toaster wars before; I think we are now on UK toaster number 7, the previous six having proved inadequate. The current one is the cheapest of the lot, but never fear, I am planning our final lifetime toaster purchase soon, a 125 quid--that's about 170 dollars--Dualit that someone promised me will be great.
Copyright 2018 by Laura Harrison McBride

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Threats, threats and more threats

FB is threatening me that they'll take my McBride blog down if I don't post soon. I might want it, although I've given up on politics. The lines in the sand are drawn; until some feckless Republican jumps that sinking ship and gets rid of Trump, or some gormless Tory (or even semi-intelligent Labourite) grows a pair, admits Brexit is shite, and turns the whole movement on its ear, yapping is just tossing hot air around.

Still, I might want that page someday. So I decided to post something. But to do that, I had to post on my real McBride's Bar & Grill blog. But, as noted, I am sick of politics. So I edited a poem I wrote a long time ago, and decided, what the hell? I'll just post it on McBride's Bar & Grill. So here it is.

Take it with you


La Cite, Carcassonne, France; entrance bridge (Photo SP Tiley)


You can't take it with you, they say, about what you acquire in life. But you can, you can take it by leaving it behind.
Here's what I mean. Today I noticed the caps on two entry barriers at a golf course in Cornwall had roofs that looked just like the roofs on the towers at Carcassonne, ancient French city, now a tourist destination. (Notice, I did not say trap. But only because it has lots of good cafes. And you can enjoy it without paying to see the dungeons, which are probably creepy anyway.) So, anyway....
Obviously, the golf course designer had been to Carcassonne. When I lived in the US, there was a housing estate near Dulles Airport called Exeter; we passed Exeter, UK, on every trip back and forth. So, someone thought enough of Exeter to take the name to the US.
Oh, sure. We all know New York City was once New Amsterdam, both times named after Old World places. There's a Syracuse, NY, and  Rome, GA. And Plymouth, MA, is named for the port city in the UK where I have my hair done.
It's common, you see, to drag names of places around. Have you done it? Have you, for example, named your house after a place you love? We name houses in the UK: I named ours in Maryland, put it on the stationary and all and a plaque on the house.
So what's my house named here? The Sycamores. We only have one. Sycamore, that is. The name came with the house. I can change it for 40 quid. To what? Key West, or maybe Key West East, LOL. Or Bunbeg after my ancestral home in Donegal. Or maybe Heathfield, as Simon was born in that location. Or we could call it something plain vanilla, like Sunnycroft, very popular in rainy Cornwall. I think every town has at least one. 
Rainycroft doesn't really sound too good.

Copyright 2018 by Laura Harrison McBride

Saturday, April 28, 2018

No honor among thieves

Was justice blind in the Cosby case? I doubt it. The plaintiff had already profited from her allegations, and the evidence was 14 years old and never more than circumstantial, or worse, a "he said/she said." This case, unprovable from the start, should never have come to court the first time (ending in a mistrial), never mind a second time after a movement had been founded surrounding it. Sometimes, blind justice happens outside the courtroom, not within it

 
"The defense’s star witness was a veteran academic adviser at Temple {University} who said Ms. Constand had confided to her in 2004 that she could make money by falsely claiming she had been molested by a prominent person. Mr. Cosby paid Ms. Constand $3.38 million in 2006 as part of the confidential financial settlement of a lawsuit she had brought against him after prosecutors originally declined to bring charges." (New York Times.)

I haven't blogged in a couple of months. I've been painting. But this is, to me, a prime example of several varieties of bullshit. Indeed, Constand got a ton of money from Mr. Cosby more than a decade ago; so what did she want? Money, or redress of what she claimed was a sexual assault? Was it? Who was the witness? Was there a rape kit? What the hell constitutes sexual assault? A guy putting his arm around someone at a party when he's a bit tipsy? Saying lewd things? Ogling her boobs? What, exactly? There's rape--which is both provable to have happened and, with DNA, also who done it--and then there's the always fraught non-sexual relations between men and women, with men always wanting more and (most) women wanting to give less, or nothing. As my stepfather used to say, "Men have sex with whomever they can; women have sex with whomever they want." In short, the yay or nay resides with the woman (except in forcible rape when the woman is usually incapacitated by hand, gun, knife, etc.), period.

As far as I'm concerned, if you were NOT forcibly raped--which is a crime of violence, not sex--then you didn't say No well enough. Men are like toddlers in this; they'll try it, and it's up to "Mommy" to say no loud and clear.

As for the drug component, if you accept drugs of any kind from someone not your doctor nor a member of your family, or that don't come in a bottle clearly marked Aspirin or Tylenol if you're accepting them from someone neither medical nor family, you're as asshole. Especially if he's a man and you're a woman and you're alone with him in his house or hotel room. Please see my stepfather's remark, above. And if you DO intend to claim drugs were involved, then you'd better get your ass to the ER for a rape kit and some blood testing or the drug part of it is also hearsay.

My conclusion? Who the hell knows what Cosby did or didn't do, this time or any other time? Absent a rape kit, it's all hearsay. All of it. This woman has already profited mightily from her claim--and celebrities will pay people off just to keep accusers from ruining their careers. But that doesn't mean Cosby did it; it just means he wanted her to shut up about whatever happened. If anything happened. Even if it was her imagination. And she agreed. For a price. And because, at the time, the Me,Too movement--railroading every man into being a Caspar Milquetoast except on the occasions a woman wanst them to be a Tarzan--had not yet infected the already problematical relations between men and women.

Frankly, I think it's dumb to pay accusers off. Let them squawk. Let it go to court in a timely manner when memories, which change over time, might be somewhat closer to reality, IF the public prosecutor believes there is a case to answer.

The Goldmans sued OJ, too, and won. But there is a difference between that and this. Constand sued Cosby BEFORE and in the absence of any criminal court case...and got paid handsomely. The Goldmans sued after a court case with tons of physical evidence that should have been won was lost. I think that Constand's conduct alone casts doubt on what she's saying being true; she took the money, and then agitated for punishment for a case that could never possibly be more than circumstantial and could only be based on hearsay BECAUSE THERE WAS NO RAPE KIT. If she was that disturbed, if there was sexual contact with a man she apparently knew in other contexts, then she needed to get her ass to the ER for tests. End of story. That she didn't says lots to me. Because she feared the fame and notoriety? She certainly doesn't seem to mind it now. Someone is not telling the truth. Maybe neither of them is telling the whole truth. But what stinks to high heaven to me is that she took the money, and STILL went after the person who paid to hush her. Tacky, at best. Certainly not admirable.

I guess it is true, then; there is no honor among thieves.

Brexiters: One foot in the grave, minds turned to dust

I'm sure that got your attention--either the headline or the flag of peace, freedom and prosperity. Either way, it is my New York ...