Thursday, April 11, 2019

Lord of the Flies lives on in the UK's Tories

Every nation, it seems, has a two-tier educational system, with government-supported schools for most children, and expensive privately paid for schools for the children of the wealthy. It seems only rational that parents who could afford to pay for school would send their children where, ostensibly, those children would be better educated than by a government-supported school. 

With the current depredations on government schools by the UK's entitled Conservative (Tory) party members, there's good reason to believe that--as far as actual book-learning goes--the private schools are superior. But for every other part of the preparation of decent, intelligent adults, the UK's private (called public in the UK, but called private hereafter in order not to confuse non-British readers) schools are a disaster from start to finish.

Taking children out of family life and putting them in residential school settings where there is a housemother but no family, and the only humanising that is done is by other equally unformed adolescents, produces tribal behaviour, not humanity. Tribal behaviour results in fights; fights result in deaths; deaths result in misery for the living. In short, by forcing upper-crust kids into an artificial cultural construct, we have guaranteed that we will be governed by juveniles not even remotely equal to the task.

Fiction as fact

In fact, the Tories are a perfect reflection of the private school ethos used as the basis for William Golding's Lord of the Flies. The book concerns the descent into savagery of a group of pre-adolescent boys marooned on a Pacific island with no adults to lead them. They form a tribe, pick leaders, anoint an outcast (whom they eventually kill) and eventually, having secured a food supply and shelter, become both lazy and increasingly vicious.

The Wikipedia article about the book notes, "The semblance of order quickly deteriorates as the majority of the boys turn idle; they give little aid in building shelters, spend their time having fun and begin to develop paranoias about the island." 

Excuse me, but does this sound just a bit like the Tories? They are not taking care of the islanders/Brits, they are failing at housing and food and medical care; indeed, they are selling off the medical care so they can have more money to pay for fun, which is, for them, more unearned income. Indeed, by age 11, the deplorable Jacob Rees-Mogg viewed amassing astonishing wealth as the only fun thing to do in life.

Like the boys on the island, the Tories are happy to be in charge, even though they lack the mental/emotional tools to lead. Mrs. May is a superb and extravagant example, a "fake boy" without even the private school background of tribe-building, and lacking any sort of emotional intelligence one might reasonably expect in a woman; for which see German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Tories want to be in charge but mainly of not paying their fair share of taxes so that they can have even more goodies. (Yes, I'm speaking of you, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Phillip May, et al). As for paranoias, they are terrified of the Yaxley-Lennons causing an uproar; it strikes me as about the same thing as the island boys being afraid of a few flies buzzing about the head of a pig they had killed--a fear that's self-inflicted, wildly overblown and easily taken care of by removing the head/depriving Yaxleys of airtime.

Cameron channels Lord of the Flies

To curry favour with his tribe, three years ago Cameron unwisely scheduled a referendum about life on the island asking only the most rudimentary, school-boy questions: Do you want to stay in the EU or leave? Or, do you like your chocolate filled or plain? Same thing.

There was no explanation of what staying in the European Union (EU) or leaving it meant. Indeed, considering the appalling state of British education for the last two decades or so, few people actually understood what the EU is. One has to wonder whether Cameron understood. Certainly, he didn't understand that the EU seemed to be--to Brits he had bashed with the useless, needless austerity plan so his government of Tories could have more--like just another level of miserable bureaucracy making them suffer.

Nor was there a minimum level needed to assess the referendum. If 6 of 10 boys said they liked filled chocolates, did that mean the other 4 would not get any plain ones, ever? Should it not have been at least an 8 out of 10 vote to be meaningful? If you allow the margin of difference to be very small, you are inviting both   manipulation (see BeLeave and its criminal acts) and dissatisfaction among the voters that the vote had been either real or meaningful. No one wants to be bound by a close vote--even though (laughing hysterically) this vote wasn't binding. Cameron created open sores, oozing and smelling like the toilets after an Etonian bachelor party.

In his adolescent immaturity, Cameron had ensured that none of the "boys" would be satisfied with the vote or what it produced. Everyone would feel ill-served, both those who had no clear mandate to behave the way the vote suggested, nor those who suspected it had been rigged against them (they were right.) Cameron ensured infighting for as long as the "boys" were unsupervised on the island. He was, to put it mildly, as weak a leader as either of the co-leaders in Golding's book.

The boys on the island are as close an imitation of the bunch of neo-feral Tory politicians as you could possibly imagine. One must wonder if Golding foresaw the ungodly mess the Tories, under the leadership of the perennially boyish David Cameron of the Etonian tribe, have made of their country. It is in flames, figuratively speaking, and it doesn't appear there are any adults in naval vessels coming along to sort it out.

The EU has tried to guide the UK to some semblance of maturity without actually supervising, which is not, despite Leaver belief, any part of the EU mandate. The EU has now given the boys/Tories one last chance to either create island governance that works without killing people, or to leave the islanders to their own devices, unprotected in a hostile world. In short, they can either scrap the referendum's results and beg pardon to consort with the adults--the EU--again, or they can perish by their own pre-adolescent wits on a cold island with nothing left to recommend it.  

Lord of the Flies ends as the boys have set their island aflame. A passing military boat sees the flames and mounts a rescue, whereupon the boys who are still alive revert, in the presence of actual adults, to the pre-adolescent behaviour they had left behind when trying to be fake adults. On the island, they were just like the Tories led by Mrs. May, and in way, way, way over their little heads. Given a decent leader--the rescuer--they reverted to the behaviour of their actual ages, crying and all.

Make no mistake; that is exactly what it has come down to. We must elect a government/force the current government to behave decently toward us and our neighbors and remain a part of the adult group, the EU, or we will perish as a united kingdom; we will devolve into a handful of very small, very unimportant, very lonely and very poor nations. 

This is not fiction, but reality. There is no author waiting to relieve us of our misery with a handful of pacifying words.  THERE IS NO CONVENIENT NAVAL SHIP SAILING BY TO SAVE US.

Our MPs will have to grow up fast or all is lost...and we will be left stranded on an island in the middle of a vast ocean from which storms are more likely to arise than days of calm and bliss, in which food will be difficult to obtain and prepare, in which there will be no new clothing once the clothes worn when we were marooned fall off of us in tatters.
Drawing of Lord of the Flies island: UK, 2020?

Copyright 2019, Laura Harrison McBride

Monday, April 8, 2019

What LEAVERS really want

If you want to know who might be a Leave voter, above are seven good ways to tell. The thing is, of course, what they don't understand is what they want is much more likely to harm them than anyone else.

No. 1: The Death Penalty. People who have a good job, a bit of money for some luxuries, going at least to Benidorm for holidays, are usually quite happy. Why would they kill want to kill anyone for misdeeds when everyone knows there is no such thing as a perfect verdict? They don't, and they are mainly fairy satisfied Remainers. Mainly.

On the other hand, Brexiters are mainly disgruntled failures, people who are angry at what they don't have and can't do. That population produces the Steven Yaxley-Lennons of the world. 

But Brexit has also produced the deplorable Jacob Rees-Moggs who appear to be wealthy (and usually are), but have an astonishing need to have more--MUCH, MUCH MORE--than anyone else. And they are willing to put to death, one way or another, anyone who interferes with their plans. 

Although both the resentful rich and the resentful poor are happy to let their fellow man swing at the end of a noose, it is the first population that contributes the majority of those accused of what would be capital crimes and punishment by death. Go figure. You'd think they'd be aghast at the possibility of the death penalty, considering their usual relationship with the halls of justice. How many times has Yaxley been arrested now? I'd say Y-L, a thug and a very vocal Leaver, is far more likely to end up on death row than Rees-Mogg, his partner in the humane crime of desiring the death penalty.

No. 2. Dark blue passports. Someone told Leavers that's the colour passports used to be; they are afraid to encounter other cultures, so most of them never had any sort of passport so they don't actually know. And, since passports have been burgundy for so long, neither did their parents. 

Here's the problem: The old passports were not blue, but black. Wrong again, Brexiteers! 

No. 3. Selling goods in pounds and ounces. I won't argue that I wouldn't like that, too. But I have a reason: I lived in the US until I got my Irish citizenship about ten years ago, so I hadn't had the previous 30 years to get used to grams, etc. But frankly, IT JUST ISN'T THAT BIG A DEAL. I have a little cheat sheet on my fridge so I can convert things before I go shopping. I'm assuming most Brexiters can read, so they could do the same thing. Hardly worth losing 30% of the nation's industry because some fool isn't clever enough to find a metric conversion cheat sheet.

No. 4. Corporal punishment in schools. The very population that is going to be nutritionally at risk, even more so than now when the Tories have cut school lunch programs for those in need, is more interested in having the teachers paddle their kids than in having the community feed them. It's nuts. Just plain nuts. Plus, I have to ask how well that corporal punishment worked before; I'm fairly certain that the older toffs who went to Eton, etc., got paddled a bit, and look at them; all they really learnt was how to steal from the rest of us and buy passports in EU countries for after they--with Brexiteer assistance--wreck the UK.

No. 5. Traditional incandescent light bulbs. Again, Leavers vote against their own best interests. Incandescent light bulbs break more easily and more often than modern lighting, such as LEDs. And they are more expensive to run. Why would those who stand to lose the most money by the disappearance of jobs in Brexit want to spend more on lighting their homes? The only answer I can arrive at is that they can then use the electricity expense as a reason not to read, thereby ensuring they remain as ignorant as they were three years ago, despite reams being written about the damage Brexit will do.

N0. 6. Smoking in pubs and restaurants. This is my favourite. I assume it applies to all public places. Here's a question: Did you ever go to the cinema in IRELAND before it joined the EU? It was hard to see the screen through the fug, and you could just get up and go directly to your oncologist to begin the treatment for your lung cancer when the evening was over. I assume it was similar in the UK, although I had the good sense only to visit the UK once before it joined the EU, and a visit to the cinema was not on my itinerary.

I frankly have no problem--well not much problem--with people who want to smoke, as long as they don't force me to breathe the carcinogens and god knows what they spew forth with it from their lungs. I would rather not have my tax money wasted on preventable ailments, such as lung cancer from smoking, but I suppose it would be inhumane to ban smokers from lung cancer treatment just because they caused it (usually) themselves. 

No. 7. Pre-decimal currency. This one is really mind-boggling. What the hell is a farthing? Or a shilling? Do we need to go all the way to half-groats? Guineas? Half-Guineas? Florins?

The division of pounds under the old system was not based on 100, but on 240. Excuse me, but can people do that math in their heads anymore, after three decades of computerised cash registers, etc?  

Now we have pounds and pence; 100 pence to a pound. Easy. Indeed, easier even than a similar system of 100 pennies to a dollar in the US. In the US, a 25-penny piece is called a quarter, a ten-penny coin is a dime, and a five-penny coin is a nickel. In the UK, one has 50p, 20p, 10p and 5p coins, and the odd pence. No additional nomenclature.

The Brexiters say they want their sovereignty back. As it happens, the UK still has its sovereigns, if one is using antique language and denominations, and not the euro. Although the UK lost the plethora of names for oddments of currency,
one would have to 
question the logic of people who want the simplicity of pounds and ounces when it comes to cabbages and cod also desiring the convoluted and nomenclature-heavy "old currency."  In any case, the EU had nothing to do with the revamping of UK currency; that was totally the UK's doing. But remember, too, we are dealing here with a population that wants to boycott the EU elections in protest against the possibility that there will not be a Brexit.  

Hello!  Anyone home? If you want to have a Brexit, then it would behoove you to vote early and often for Brexit Party MEP (Member of the European Parliament) candidates. You might be able to convince them to work themselves out of a job by pushing for Brexit.

You know, like Nigel Farage, who was only able to win one election of the eleven the ran in, and that was for MEP. He showed up for work barely 30 percent of the he didn't DO the work...but he darn well took his paycheck.

That single fact leads one to believe Farage might not have wanted Brexit at all; he just wanted an excuse to keep taking his paycheck without doing any work, and to run on his own, as a candidate supported by a spanking new party, the Brexit Party, assuming he could win there, if nowhere else. 

Indeed, it seems more logical than Leavers wanting capital punishment, corporal punishment, and cancer punishment--to name just three things on their cockamamie wish list.


Copyright 2019, Laura Harrison McBride

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Theresa May and the Radio Lady

The author  (left) about fifteen years ago, with Geraldine in front of Geraldine's house.

I wanted to go to sleep. I really did. It had been a demanding day, dealing with the myriad personalities at the Barter Theatre, the state theatre of Virginia, where I was the media director. I hadn't known that Actor's Equity contracts REQUIRED that actors be fed by the company during any block of work longer than four hours. They'd been fed; the marketing assistant had taken care of that. But I had no idea they were so delicate, like a sickly baby. OK. Maybe that's a metaphor I don't need to investigate any more.

And, of course, there were also  the media to deal with, although next to some of the actors, they were easy. And the Producing Artistic Director. He was extraordinary. And I'll leave that right where it is.

  So, anyway, it was about 11 at night, a lovely late summer night in southwest Virginia, and I had opened all the windows and crawled into bed. Into lovely new sheets I had just bought for my lovely new bed. Beautiful sheets. Egyptian cotton with just enough embroidery to be elegant. They were cool, and smooth, and almost as welcoming as the 400 thread count sheets in a fine hotel.
And then I heard it, a couple of voices yakking on and on and on about car repair.

It wasn't hard to find the source of the disruption to my beautiful, healing beauty rest. The racket was coming from a second-floor window in a house diagonally across the street.
It was a nice, old brick house, although the front porch was piled high with boxes and bags with a bamboo blind drawn down to cover them. Sort of. 

But it was too late to knock on the door, and I didn't want to get dressed again anyway. So I dug earplugs out of my "travel stuff" drawer and finally went to sleep.

The next day, I left a note on the door of the talking house as no one answered my knock. I asked for the person to please leave me a note with name and phone number as I wanted to speak about something.

When I got home that evening, a note was at my door with a name--Geraldine--and a phone number.  Without delay, I phoned. I identified myself.

And then I got a yelp of  delight. Yes, really, delight. She said she recognized my name--she had loved reading my articles in the local newspaper (I hadn't been on staff there for more than two years, since I had returned to freelancing, BEFORE taking the theatre gig.) And then she told me I was a lovely lady and she so enjoyed watching me walk my cute little dog in the neighborhood (where, as it happens, I had moved during a rainy spell, and so had been spared the nighttime radio for a couple of weeks, although not the dog-walking.)

Well. How does one, on the heels of all that flattery, say "turn down your effing radio; the whole neighborhood doesn't want to hear Click and Clack at bedtime." That's what the local NPR station played, someone told me; I guess it was cheap to broadcast at that time of night.  Or something. But at least it wasn't the symphonic music platter spinner whose voice put me to sleep when he was on in the daytime.  On the other hand....

Well, anyway, I never did ask Geraldine to turn down the radio. Indeed, we became friends. She was retired, from what I never figured out, and was divorced from a person whose name she never uttered without an accompanying curse.  

Geraldine collected EVERYTHING. The back seat of her car was exactly like her front porch, the front passenger seat being kept clear in case of, what else, a passenger.  

Geraldine read all the time, and introduced me to the Big Stone Gap books of Adriana Trigiani by simply giving me a copy of Big Stone Gap.  They are great books. And, oddly, Trigiani is, despite the Italian surname, a native of Big Stone Gap, a hard-luck mountain town in the Southern Appalachians not far from Abingdon, VA, where I worked and Bristol, VA/TN, where I lived. 

As much as books, Geraldine also loved theatre, although she claimed she could no longer afford to go.

As an executive for Barter Theatre, I had access from time to time to tickets to use as I saw fit, above and beyond the purely promotional.  Giving them to friends was not discouraged; after all, friends have friends who might like plays.

When we had a month with something on stage I knew Geraldine would love, I gave her two tickets so she and another neighbor could attend a matinee. Fine and dandy.

The day she was coming, she phoned the box office and asked if they could ask me to meet her at the theatre; the executive offices were about a mile away on a big campus outside of town. I could, and did. 

I must say, Geraldine was resplendent that afternoon in an astonishing collection of silk garments, most embroidered and some with feathers, maybe some thread of gold, about two pounds of jewelry (a mix of real and costume, I think), her hair done up dramatically and vibrant red lipstick to complete the "evening in the afternoon" look.

I was standing an the main exit door from the auditorium as the play let out. She came up to me, hugged me, extolled the production and thanked me profusely for the tickets. Right behind her, unexpectedly, was the Producing Artistic Director. 

Why? He was NEVER there after the performance, only before when he gave the Curtain Speech. Why today...when I had invited my most extreme friend to use my free tickets? Yes, I was worried--like any asshole--about the effect of Geraldine's over-the-topness on my professional future.

Geraldine spied him. She wrapped an arm around me, pulling me directly into his path. She loudly proclaimed that his hiring me was the very best thing anyone had ever done at the theatre, in the town, the county, the two contiguous states (Virginia and Tennesse), the nation and the world since Moses was a boy.

He took it well. I....well, I had got pretty good at hiding embarrassment, having been the theatre reviewer/business writer/section front writer locally for years, and I was a damn Yankee, to boot. I just laughed whenever a local throwback who objected to my reviews yelled, "Yankee, go home." Or when I got hate mail. Or even when the Producing Artistic Director's incompetent predecessor had declared me persona non grata after a particularly scathing review. Thereafter, I had to buy tickets under an assumed name as he had threatened to bar the door. Yes, his productions were THAT bad.

But what does this have to do with Theresa May, for the past three years developing into the worst Prime Minister the UK, now my home, has ever had to endure?

My dear friend Geraldine--I should say late friend, as she passed on several years ago, much to my dismay--was a bit nutty. Clearly. 

The collecting/hoarding. The wild outfits. The generous gifts; she also occasionally left packages of KFC at my door if she had gone there for lunch, as she knew I liked fried chicken. The books, of course, quite a few over the years. And any gift came, always, with a lengthy discourse on current events--she listened to NPR 24/7--written round and round and back and front on envelopes from mail she had received.  In a dozen years, I never got a note on a fresh piece of paper, only on used envelopes.

Geraldine was delightfully nutty, though, and in fact had been so for years. A friend of mine who had grown up in the house behind hers, fronting on the next street, is the person who had told me she was called the Radio Lady by the neighborhood, as she had been doing the window thing for decades.

Theresa May is the flip side of Geraldine. I believe she's wacky, but not in a harmless and amusing and sometimes generous and embarrassing way. I concluded that quite a long time ago, probably less than six months into her three-year (so far) reign of terror. Geraldine was very smart, however, while Theresa May is arguably very stupid. Look how many times the EU has had to tell her NO; I've seen dead road-kill that can be assumed to be smarter than that having had to wits to try to cross the road.

What got me to comparing Theresa May, loathsome creature, to Geraldine, lovable eccentric extraordinaire, was the outfit May wore on the day of her last-ditch night-time flight to Strasbourg so that the EU could tell her no AGAIN.

The outfit was maniacal. It was frighteningly revelatory of the mind of its wearer. It bespoke the inability to mesh any two elements into a coherent whole. It was a costume looking for a character, a slightly evil, unalterably deranged character.  Totally inappropriate for the governmental daytime appearance to which she wore it; totally mismatched as to jewelry and gloves. And the hat!  I know cartoonists who would have been glad of that idea for one of their more cockamamie characters. It wasn't Prime Ministerial; it was ridiculous.

I leave it to you. Is this the respectful, coherent outfit of the head of a major world government? An outfit that displays gravitas? Or even rudimentary common sense? Notice, I'm not going to even mention fashion sense, as that's a bridge WAY too far.

It's the outfit of a woman who has lost the plot, but hasn't the wit and wisdom to behave in a humane manner toward others, or to admit her myriad errors. She is unable acknowledge reality--she has failed, miserably, massively and often--and resign.
Can Theresa May save the United Kingdom? Yes, but only by revoking Article 50. Which she will not do. Because she is nuts. 

But worse--unlike my humane, kindly, intellectual hoarder friend--because she is unspeakably evil, and means to take a sovereign nation, once a world leader, down to perdition with her.

Unspeakably evil.

Unspeakably inappropriate outfit for an official government engagement, but totally representative of May's inabilities both cultural and political. She is, frankly, the biggest insult and greatest danger the UK has faced since WWII.

Copyright 2019, Laura Harrison McBride

Friday, March 8, 2019

What's a Cultural Belief Cage?


There are several names for what both Trumpanzees and Brexiters experience in their brains, where normal people see facts and weigh them before deciding on a belief and, indeed, sometimes change their beliefs when presented with new facts. Most of us know the earth is not flat. But bloody hell, if there aren't some Flat Earthers around. Astonishing, really.

A friend of mine, writer, singer, New Thought minister, and spiritual advisor/guru, Ed Lemberger, developed the term "cultural belief cage" to explain "a collective consciousness of people stuck in a belief that just isn't true to the point where the entire group mind is stuck in a 'cage,' and can't see out of this cage, even when presented with overwhelming evidence that the belief being held by the group mind is not in line with truth."

I'm quite sure Ed wouldn't want me to foster divisiveness with this idea, so I'll give you only two examples, one of Trumpanzee caca in the US and one of Corbynista caca in the UK.

Yabba dabba dabba...said the monkey to the chimp


Trumpanzees' belief: MFOTUS is a smart and successful businessman because he built Trump Tower and other stuff and wrote The Art of the Deal and made lots of money and became president.

Facts: Trump is so stupid, even before running for president, he had his goon squad threaten every school he ever attended if they ever released his grades. So one must figure Daddy's money bought whatever, if any, diplomas MFOTUS has.

He built Trump Tower on OPM and with illegal labour he basically enslaved. He had a ghostwriter for The Art of the Deal who has recently denied that ANYTHING in the book is true, except possibly Trump's name. BTW, there is NOTHING in it for the writer by doing this, because book sales will decrease, and so will the writer's income. He simply felt truth was called for, however belatedly.

Trump would have made more money, according to Forbes magazine, if he had put the money his father gave him in an investment trust managed by someone else. He went bankrupt seven times, including on a casino. A fucking casino. My dog could make money running a casino. Pandering to an addiction is synonymous with making tons of loot.

Now I shall cross the pond to use a liberal figure from the UK to explain the crap liberals get in their heads and while, adhering to collective consciousness, they then believe regardless of facts.

My socialist dictator wannabe right or wrong 

Corbynistas' belief: Jeremy Corbyn should be the next Prime Minister because he will save the working class.
Sheep and goats

Facts: Jeremy Corbyn has gone out of his way NOT to save the working know, those of us who depend on jobs to put a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, and food on our table. He has a priori trashed the class and party (Labour) he is sworn to serve by being first a closet Brexiter, then an outed Brexiter, and now a compromising (maybe)  Brexiter). He is now and has always been in FAVOR of the UK leaving its biggest market, the EU, which is responsible for the UK becoming the world's 5th largest economy (recalling how TINY the UK is, it's amazing). He neglected to note that companies that want to sell into the EU seamlessly were happy to locate in the UK; now they have left in droves and relocated in nations staying in the EU--Holland, France, etc.

The reason Corbyn is in favor of leaving the EU is because he thinks that's what the people want, despite LABOUR members being steadfastly against leaving once they saw their jobs going bye-bye. But he thinks he can be a socialist leader and somehow--hey, presto, without need of the industry that has left, never to return*--make the working class prosperous once again. In short, he has demonstrated enormous greed and stupendous stupidity.

In addition, he is arguably anti-Semitic, having given awards to Hamas (go ahead, try to negate that one.)

He presents himself as a man of the people, but with a net worth of 5 million quid himself, and a wife who owns a company worth 10 million quid, and with one of his sons working for him and thus sucking up public monies, I contend with some confidence that he is EVERY BIT as eager to avoid EU profit-offshoring rules coming into effect in April 2019 as any Conservative (Tory) you can name.

All the facts notwithstanding, Trumpanzees and Corbynistas are religious in their defense of their clay-footed heroes, ruthless in contradicting anyone who would point out to them that they are falsely believing in untruths. Lies.

Are there any benefits to cultural belief cage beliefs?


I contend that both Trumpanzees and Corbynistas are stuck in cultural belief cages. My question is: Why? Who would want to live their life based on a lie? I could, for example, decide to believe that my oven wasn't a piece of crap that belches foul odors, whether or not it has recently been cleaned, throughout my house. I could believe that by CHOOSING to ignore the facts. I could. But I couldn't. A new oven is in order and on order.

I would say I'm as sane as the next guy and saner than most. I look for facts to support my beliefs (that fucking oven stinks, and even Simon knows  it. See? Two of us with the same belief...but we both base it on a fact, so it's not part of some micro-cultural belief cage.) I cannot imagine, for example, saying Bill Clinton was a horrible president because he had some hanky-panky with an intern. He was actually a good president who had some hanky-panky with an intern, and the facts of his terms of office support that belief. NOTHING supports the belief that he was a bad president (a job involving politics, not hanky-panky) because regardless of who was under his desk, he did the nation's business and did it pretty well.

So maybe that's it; ignorant populations conflate conduct in one arena with conduct in another.

But, you might say, priests and altar boys. Not the same at all. Monica L. was no altar girl; she was an adult and chose her course of action.

Town sheep
So back to Trump and Corbyn: Both of them are using lies that are germane to their jobs to trick the population. Bill Clinton, literally, did "not have sex with that woman." He had some foreplay, but they didn't ask him that. Self-incrimination is not demanded; just truthful answers to a question.

But Trump and Corbyn...and lies? Trump has been caught in at least 9,000 lies, to date, all germane to his supposed work for the people. AND he has admitted to--nay bragged about--more hanky-panky than the fairly normal Bill Clinton has even dreamt of, if he has dreamt of it at all. 

Corbyn? His entire political career is a lie. He could not, and I think cannot, become a socialist saviour of a nation that is firmly a capitalist democracy and was working fairly well that way (although some tweaking was certainly needed.) It is not 1917; he cannot fling the Romanovs out of the country, wreck its infrastructure if any, and recreate the nation through cruelty and viciousness to match his cockamamie socialist standard-bearer pipe dreams.

So what draws people into a cultural belief cage? 

The only possible explanations I can see are these three: lunacy, desperately inferior education, or an overwhelming need to belong to a group of people who think something so bizarre that you'll be accorded some sort of fame for joining it. 
Dolly, the famous first cloned sheep

Copyright 2019, Laura Harrison McBride


* At this point, both industries and governments rightfull distrust the UK, whose politidcans nave made a stunning bollocks of wht was always going to be a bad job to begin with. They have saved it form being a bad move, adn lodged it with the most boneheaded activigties of any legally constituted govennment anywhere in gteh world any time in history.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Brexit: Bringing out the worst in all of us

From The Times article referenced below.
This morning, a Facebook friend posted this article:

No-deal Brexit threatens cull of 10m lambs

The post immediately gathered the following comments (among others):
"That will not bother me, really. The lambs would die eventually anyway! Food, food.....
"So the Lambs die a little earlier.
"Are we supposed to be upset that lambs will die a few months earlier than they would normally? It's a shame that they are ever needlessly killed
"Panic panic! scaremongering again
"Go vegan
"This is scaremongering, people should eat less meat and from better sources though"
With few exceptions, I don't think those commenting harshly regarding a lamb cull on that post have any room whatsoever to complain of the doctrinaire actions of Theresa May or the rest of the Brexit moron contingent.

It is not their place to toss out blithe statements about lambs dying earlier than usual; it is not their right to determine how farmers should farm or who should eat what. It is inhumane in the extreme to so airily dismiss the concerns of the farmers who feed the nation; it is despicable to dismiss the USELESS sacrifice of anything. In ordinary circumstances, lambs are sacrificed, to be sure, but they become food so children may live and grow, not wasted carcasses chucked into a landfill. Those exported for money become part of the prosperity of the nation. Farm families depend on the rearing and sale of those lambs for their own lives.

To each his/her own

It's like abortion; If you don't want one, don't have one. 
If those commenting object to eating meat, then they shouldn't eat it. But they have no right, none whatsoever, to cheapen the desperate concerns of British farmers nor to load the rest of us with their vegan or vegetarian demands without knowing shit from Shinola* about any of it. 

Possibly they would be astonished to know that the Dalai Lama eats meat; he was told to by his doctor to add some meat to his diet or else he would die. If the Dalai Lama has the good sense to keep his very spiritual body and soul together by using some of the bounty of the earth for that purpose, who the hell are they to dismiss the useless killing of millions of baby animals and the destruction of the livelihoods of people working to feed them? Farming is one of the hardest jobs on earth, being both physically and mentally demanding, dependent on uncontrollable variables such as weather, and those who farm being witlessly reviled by those who work indoors and think they are holier than everyone else.

May disgusts me for her doctrinaire actions and cockamamie ideologies, but intractable animus against anyone not like themselves on the other side of the left-wing/right-wing fence is equally despicable. It is aggressive, in the extreme, for vegan/vegetarians who claim such pinnacles of spiritual attainment to witlessly bash those who work the land, who raise--and often slaughter--animals for food. Frankly, I think anyone who has the strength of mind/heart/soul to do that is a far more complete human being than the rest of us. I doubt the Dalai Lama would revile those who raise and slaughter the food that keeps him alive; I think he would bless and pray for them, knowing what it could cost them personally.

Eating out of separate pots, happily

I have a vegan friend married to a vegetarian; neither bashes others about the head and neck with their beliefs. They simply find vegan/vegetarian restaurants in which to meet for a meal; if you dine at their house, you'll be eating vegetables. If you dine at my house, you will be eating either a vegan or meat-based entree according to your beliefs (and because I own more than one pot and I respect the desires of others), accompanied by vegetables.

I am completely willing to accommodate people's dietary preferences, whether they have made the choice for health or spiritual reasons.

I am totally unwilling to accommodate carnivore-bashing by holier-than-thou vegans, regardless of how they arrived at their decision and especially when they cavalierly ignore the desperate straights the UK government is forcing animal husbandry into. And, of course, the rest of us will be desperate, too, when the ruined farmers go on the dole and we have little to eat, and no National Health Service to save our hides at least until some ships from the US bearing Clorox chicken and cancerous beef, have reached the docks.

So wake up, you pitiful doctrinaire morons. You are not Theresa May and have not even her imaginary mandate to make it all about you. 

It is all about US. All of us. Vegans, vegetarians, carnivores, pescatarians, pastafarians, fruitvores and any other feeding style you can think of.

* Shinola is the US name of a brand of shoe polish.

Copyright 2019, Laura Harrison McBride

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Are Tories and Republicans the scum of the earth?

NeoNazis patrolling US border against poor people from Mexico seeking a better life.

Volunteers helping refugees make a new life in the United States.

A few days ago, a friend--a journalist of good repute and an old friend--posted an article by a respected political analyst, Arthur C. Brooks, on his Facebook page. The article tried to explain why current politics is so rancorous, with very little middle ground being sought or found, and one out of six Americans no longer speaking with a family member or good friend because of politics. No longer do people say, "Well, it's a Republican (Conservative) idea, but I can accept it because it delivers X,Y,Z" or, "It's a Democratic (Labour) program, but I'm willing to pay for it because it helps with A,B,C."

Politics has turned into a winner-take-all game, with the losers pounding sand on the sidelines instead of working constructively with the honourable opposition, as mainly happened in the past in two-party systems such as those of the US and the UK.

The article called this disconnect
“motive attribution asymmetry," or the underlying concept that the other party's motives are evil while one's own are good. And indeed, if this were true, it would be relatively easily solved. 


There IS inherent asymmetry in one side thinking that locking young children in cages is OK because their parents--penniless and hopeless--wanted to invade the US and putatively become welfare junkies, while the other side thinks it is one's duty as a prosperous nation to accept and help those who have less. There IS no common ground there. None at all. 

Nor is there in the UK, where a great number of the citizens--and an alarming number  of elected representatives (Members of Parliament)--think it is fine for UK citizens to retire in the EU and be accepted, but god forbid anyone from the EU should choose to live in the UK and expect acceptance. Indeed, EU citizens who have lived in the UK for 50 years, working and paying taxes, are now being forced to register like any criminal. 

No, sorry, there is NO common ground between the humane attitudes of the EU, which the UK is now planning to leave in the most hostile possible way, and the circle-the-Range Rovers attitude of UK politicians and a great many citizens. (Note, please: Land Rover, maker of the highest end SUV, the Range Rover, is planning to take its marbles to the EU to play on a much more fertile life and business ground, taking jobs and economic expansion with it, and leaving UK citizens once employed there, and at many other high-end manufacturers leaving because of Brexit, infinitely worse off than they are now. And for years to come; what intelligent CEO would move a company to a nation isolating itself with self-harm aforethought from the great European market the EU created?)

No, there is no common ground to explore. Not unless it is tough love, of the sort Nancy Pelosi--bless her--is handing out, preventing the faux President from doing his worst as often as she can. Taking away a person's inalienable human rights because you dislike them for some cockamamie reason (Trump/Republicans) and wanting to protect those who have experienced disaster in their lives, for whatever reason (Pelosi/Democrats), are two very, very different things. And a couple of semi-heartfelt hugs by those on the humane side of the argument will not fix it. The only thing that will fix it is loving those being abused enough to insist that--whatever it takes--the abusers desist. Whatever it takes. Maybe if they desist, a hug can occur. Until then, cold shoulder to the abusers, hugs to those abused.

The idea that such gulfs of humanity as those between Trumpanzees and the best of the Democrats (or between Tories and a few much more decent parties in the UK) can be breached and repaired by a touchy-feely dedication to warm-heartedness and good humour is juvenile at best. One might have thought Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, would have eschewed the "Mr. Rogers" school of political assessment and negotiation for something a bit more worthy of his intellect and less likely to see the basically trusting left wing further mauled by the intransigent viciousness of today's Putin-led right wing.

I don't see any common ground to work with at the moment except for the fact that we are all homo sapiens, although some are more sapiens than others. 
I think it is more to the point to attribute the hardened vicious behaviours of such as the Republicans and Tories to the unfortunate result of natural selection; the genes most likely to reproduce are those favouring aggression simply because those who possess such genes will live after a fight to the death more often than those who are concerned more with compromise than with victory; the aggressive winners will be able to procreate more often with the fertile females of the species. And yes, over time, the animals--including humans--with the aggressive genes will tend to outnumber those with less intimidating ways of being. (Click here for one of dozens of articles about the primacy of aggressive behaviours based on natural selection.)
So basically, we've fucked ourselves into this impasse, and fucked we damn well are. The only way to be more fucked is to let the right wing of politics get away with it.

Monday, February 18, 2019

May WILL dump us out of the EU March 29

I have known from the start that May's only goal has been to get the UK out of the EU in time for UK millionaires and billionaires to continue offshoring their obscene and already lightly taxed profits so the can pay no UK taxes at all. EU rules against this kick in in April. Thus, removing the UK from the EU on March 29 leaves a bit of wiggle room before the millionaires and billionaires would have to pay their UK taxes on April 6.

That is enough, I think, to speed the witless, ethics-negative hag on to her goal. But wait; there's more.

She is also being pushed by Putin, whose aim in life for two decades has been to wreck the US and the EU. Whether it is a payoff or a threat that is May's impetus, I have no idea. But people do not demonstrate May's level of unadulterated mindless terror-driven behaviour unless a mighty force is impelling them.

Those two factors--ensuring the rich get away with all their money thus leaving the UK treasury too broke to care for those in need, and whatever Putin has done--are sufficient to convince me that there WILL be a Brexit, and probably a crash out.

But wait, there's more.

Big Pharma. Big insurance.

The Tories have been wrecking the National Health Service (NHS) since the minute David Fucking Cameron poked his baby-faced excrescence through the doorway at No. 10 Downing Street. Why?
It may have begun before May. Cameron looks like he's saying to the camera "I delivered" and Putin appears to be savouring the rich milk of democracy he's about to lap up.

Simple. There are HUGE profits to be made in both pharmaceuticals, particularly the over-priced patented ones hawked by US companies, and there are big profits to be made in requiring anyone who doesn't want to drop dead of heart failure or a diabetic coma on the street to buy health insurance, American-style. Especially now that America has begun, however slowly, to replace private insurance with Obamacare, a mini-step toward universal health care. Trump still hasn't gutted Obamacare totally, and won't as long as there's a Democrat alive to filibuster in Congress against trashing it.

What to do? The US health industry, enormously profitable for millionaires and billionaires everywhere, has been reined in. New markets must be found. But the EU has universal health care, so no new markets there. The rest of the world either has universal health care (Canada, for example) or is too war-torn or impoverished to bother with.

That leaves one potential market. The UK. If Big Pharma and the US insurance companies are not pushing for Brexit, adding their immoral clout to that of Putin whose minions are trashing the world's oldest living democracy, then I'll not only eat my hat, but yours as well.

So there it is: May WILL deliver Brexit. She has to. She's in hock and in thrall to UK millionaires and billionaires whose patriotism is so profound that they will escape the shit hole they are making with ALL their money intact, but demand that the rest of us live here and offer fealty to a system that is literally killing us. 

Indeed, we will be, if you'll excuse the Trump-worn image, walled in. Not by steel, but by the sudden absence of free movement. BTW, free movement will still be available to the rich; they can buy EU citizenship from Malta for a sum that would keep you and yours and me and mine for the rest of our lives, and more. The New York Times reported that Malta:

...also raised the cost and adopted a residency requirement. In addition to the €650,000 fee to the government, applicants must now invest €150,000 in government bonds, buy property for at least €350,000 or rent a place for at least €16,000 a year — all of which must be held for at least five years.

May WILL deliver Brexit. She has to. She has made promises, possibly to Putin, but assuredly to the millionaires and billionaires. Her perfidy and willingness to look like a global jackass has ensured that they will soon have big profits from investment in UK divisions of US Big Pharma, and in insurance companies. 

Better still, if Brits can't pay for the drugs they need, they'll die. If Brits can't pay for the health insurance, they'll die. Or maybe just go bankrupt, as more than  half a million Americans do every year because of health costs, and then they'll die. (A recent Washington Post story made clear that not all these are directly attributable to medical bills, but rather some are attributable to the lack of a social safety net for people out of work because of surgery, etc. But that doesn't matter, because in May's new world order, we won't have a social safety net either. So the analogy holds.)

Why is dying good? It isn't, not for millionaires and billionaires. Not their own deaths, that is. Our deaths are good for them. They won't have to worry about a social safety net when there are only enough of us left to work for them for slave wages, live in hovels, and die before we get a chance to use our pensions, if any.

Yes. May WILL deliver Brexit whether we march or not, whether she survives the exercise with her job still intact, whether Corbyn grows a brain or a pair or both. 

"Abandon all hope ye who enter here," the inscription above the Gates of Hell in Dante's Inferno, might as well become the UK's new motto. 

Except, of course, no one will be able to enter. Or leave.

Copyright 2019, Laura Harrison McBride

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

UK government: Inflicting the death of a thousand cuts

One recent morning at breakfast, Simon told the story of a lady who got a parking ticket, and then was fined on top of that, because when she returned the ticket with her fine, she had copied the number of the ticket wrong; the extra fine was for that as the ticket said to enter the numbers correctly.

She fought it and, several hundred pounds later transferred to lawyers' pockets, she won.

Several years ago, we got a parking ticket in the car park near the Plymouth Hoe and the Aquarium. We'd have been back to our car in plenty of time, but the pedestrian drawbridge was raised just as we (and a lot of others) got there to let a sailboat pass from the boat basin into Sutton Harbour. We were TWO MINUTES late getting to the car. We thought the guy must have written out the ticket before the appointed hour, just in case, because he was only two rows away from us when we arrived. We paid it. But there's this: they KNOW that bridge is going to go up with no warning, and, depending on the number of boats going through, it could take a long time to come back down. At the very least, there should be a ten-minute grace period; anyone going from that car park to the Hoe or Aquarium will have to cross that bridge, and there is no other place to park.

So, anyway, what does this have with bludgeoning the middle class with a thousand deadly idiocies? Easy. Control. The upper class is currently, in the UK and the US, arranging for the early deaths of the poor and the working class. After a Brexit, the people most likely to starve will be the poor; those most likely to be malnourished will be the working class; both will get scant medical attention in the pared down NHS; the middle class and above generally has some sort of gap insurance. We do.

So the Rees-Moggs, Boris Johnsons and Nigel Farages of the world have pretty much got the poor and working class under control; miserable now and heading for early death.

But what about the middle class? The Tories have  already diminished UK government-run schools and, with the need for the middle class to pay for gap health insurance to maintain what they were used to, they don't have money for private educations anymore. But damn, those pesky, educated middle class people just keep hanging on.
This photo accompanied a story in The Guardian about the homeless dying on the streets of the UK.

What to do? BREXIT. What a great idea!  Make sure the things they buy cost lots more by destroying the customs union with the EU. Make sure the cost of cars and fuel and food all go up wildly so they will, finally, have to spend their last penny to get by. Who knows? Possibly they'll have to give up their gap health insurance so they, too, can wait 6 weeks for an emergency heart bypass, or watch their kid die for lack of funds to pay for out-of-NHS cancer treatments.

But until all that happens--although it's happening well enough already--what in the world will the ruling class do? No, they cannot get rid of ALL the poor, working class and middle class. But then, they need a few of us to mow their lawns, wipe their butts in the old age home, and run their office on zero-hours contracts with no benefits.

Brexit isn't here quite yet. But even after it is, why not send the middle class into misery any way they can, the ruling class thinks. 

How better than to make sure they spend money and time dealing with cockamamie bureaucratic rules about parking? The parking companies do have a ways to go until they get as good as destroying people as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has become, especially since the introduction of Universal Credit. 
Universal Credit replaced other forms of hardship assistance in the UK. Supposedly, it would cut down on overlap, save money AND be better for those in need. The graph above shows how wrong that idea was, and how useless the Tory government is for those in need.

Universal Credit. Sounds innocuous. Maybe a new loan scheme available to everyone....

But no. It's a cunning little Tory government system whereby people already struggling to survive are suddenly supposed to become masters of the financial universe to get the social safety net support once available simply because they needed it. With Universal Credit, those who are in hard times have to perform MBA feats to get any help, and to keep it. And they must also be available any time of the day or night for inspections and/or phone calls from DWP. 

Recently, a woman was docked part of her disability pension for an entire year because DWP said she couldn't properly document her disease, although her doctor had made the point clearly that she was not going to be able to work again. Ever. THEN they assessed an additional penalty--wait for it--because FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER she had missed a telephone call from the witless automatons hired by the DWP on the zero-hour contracts.

The DWP has honed their killer craft for a year now on the poor. I have no doubt that the government, needing to get rid of the mouthy middle class--now objecting to losing their right to travel in the EU, to study there, to move there, to work there, had to find a way to shut us up. The DWP model, and that of the private parking companies selling their services to government, have shown the way. 

And on top of the constant drip of useless bureaucratic rules throughout UK life, now MP Kate Hoey (rhymes with hooey) has decided it would be good to expand private gun ownership in the UK. So what? So this: When people are starving, if they can get hold of a gun, they might well hold up a store, or invade a house. And with Brexit, people WILL be starving.

Whose stores will they hold up, and whose houses will they invade? Why, the middle-class, of course.
Gilets jaunes--yellow vests--in the UK are generally Brexiters who long for complete separation from EU neighbors, no immigration, and no foreign goods. Aside from those unworkable ideas, the poster mentions and EU Army (There is none, and won't be) and a UN peace, maybe? These are the disaffected people being primed to attack others after Brexit.
So basically, Hoey wants to open season on the middle-class, making them infinitely vulnerable and nervous as well. By the way, the despicable Tory government has already cut the national police force by 21,000, and has removed the local cop house from all but the largest towns. Callington, the medium-sized town about 4 minutes from us by car, lost its police station a couple of years ago. The nearest is now in Saltash, 20 minutes away barring farm vehicles on the road. I cannot recall the last time I saw a bobby walking the beat in Tavistock, as I always used to do--before the Tory horde began its rape of the UK.


Shortly, in a new column, what PUTIN hopes to gain from having the Tories destroy the decently educated British middle class.
 Copyright 2019, Laura Harrison McBride

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Greed, Inc., or in other words, Conservatives

A bit harsh, my title, yes? But also true.

For a long time, I've been saying that avoiding the EU offshoring rules was THE paramount driving force behind the Tory dedication to Brexit, ANY Brexit. They have spent centuries managing to keep their gains, mostly ill-gotten, from being donated in any small part to the national treasury for the upkeep of either Crown or country. The EU wanted them to stop avoiding UK taxes, and pay their fair (sort of) share. The rest of the EU agreed to pay their fair share in their nations, and their moneyed/political class did not try to quit the club. Only the Brits did that.

This is simple. Even anyone as moronic as Nadine Dorries, MP, author of trashy novels, employer of her own children at our expense...even SHE could understand it. Well, after a lot of tutoring from people with brains. Maybe.

But one has to question the rest of the Tory program, the grinding austerity that has seen people one day from a cancer death told to get a job, that has seen parents docked a year's benefits for failing to answer the phone when DWP called, and then docked some more for that first-time failure. Yes, folks, not for being a serial lay-about; for missing a phone call ONE TIME. Screw the family's kids; they don't have to eat. The DWP horror stories are legion.

Windrush: UK invited them in when we needed help, but Tories are chucking them out when THEY need help

And then there's Windrush, or the reversal thereof. Just this morning, I read of a man deported to Jamaica after 20 years of legal residency in the UK, leaving his devastated wife and two teenage children behind. Why? Because Tories don't like brown people. They don't like brown people for one of two reasons. Either the brown people become unemployed and require some benefits, or the brown people are very successful, which plays havoc with Tory religious dogma that only white men can be really successful.

Why white men only? What about Theresa May?

Have you heard Theresa May, seen her actions? Moronic, psychotic. The Tory men were happy to make her PM because even Boris "The Clown Prince" Johnson would appear smart and stable if he followed her as PM. May was sacrificed by the Tory men to take the Brexit fall and secure their fortunes from the offshoring they dread. Why, after all, return anything to the treasury of the nation that allowed, and often helped, them to make a fortune? It would only be used to help the less fortunate. And some of those might be brown people or women or, in any case, not Tories.

And that's the second point. The Tories dream not of unicorns, but of a society in which there are very, very few pesky middle-class people, demanding good education, health care, old age considerations and so on. Frankly, the modern world has too little work for too many educated people below millionaire level anyway. So, think the millionaires, those people are superfluous to requirements. They might as well be vanquished. How? Brexit. Their jobs disappear, and with it their incomes, making them dependent on the state.

The Middle Ages....and the UK Tory future

How can THAT be good? Because the Tories dream of having virtually NO poor or uneducated people around to support. The modus operandi: Push the middle class down to working class or benefits recipient, and push the poor farther than that. How?

Simple: Limit resources, or in other words, mpose austerity on the social safety net despite the government being flush with funds. Funds they willingly use to bribe people who can help them achieve their ends, but avoid using at all costs to help those who are their countrymen and simply need a hand. So, they destroy health benefits. 

Those most able to access and deal with increasingly distant and difficult systems and departments in the social safety net will be the educated middle class, so they will get more benefits from whatever of the system is left than will the uneducated poor. The uneducated poor will die younger. The educated middle class will, too. And, after a generation or two, the Tories will have their heart's desire: only enough able workers with only just enough education to do the work the Tory families require. There will be virtually no need for a social safety net; everyone who can work will work, at the pleasure of the Tory overlords, or go hungry and die. And that, for the Tories, would be paradise. Society would consist only of Tories, and Tory slaves. And the slaves? Expendable. So, basically, Tory heaven.

The Tory government has, since Cameron first set foot in No. 10, engaged in social engineering dedicated not to society as a whole, but to the society he runs in, the toffs. There were enough useful idiots like May that he didn't have to dirty his hands. May engineered the hostile environment toward foreigners of the middle and working classes. May engineered a great many of the austerity programs of the Tory government, grabbing the biggest plum of all, the ruination of her country in pursuit of an oligarchical society in which workers--and god knows those who cannot work--are scarcer than a breath from Nigel Farage--Putin's fool and the Tories' fall guy--that isn't tainted with cigar smoke, beer fumes or stinkin' lies.

So, in a nutshell: The Tories are engineering Brexit so they don't have to share ANY of their wealth with anyone else. AND, to ensure that remains true for the foreseeable future, they are also conducting social engineering to literally, over a generation or two, kill off people they see as expendable: the poor, the under-educated, the sick, the old, the brown.

You might not like these ideas, but, to paraphrase a recent social media meme, if you aren't sure whether you are a Tory or an expendable liability to a Tory, check your wallet.


Copyright 2019, Laura Harrison McBride

Lord of the Flies lives on in the UK's Tories

Every nation, it seems, has a two-tier educational system, with government-supported schools for most children, and expensive privately...