Friday, November 25, 2016

Trump and Messala: A Comparison

For those of you too young to remember the chariot race in the 1959 Ben Hur, in which the hero, Judah Ben-Hur, is betrayed by his best friend, Messala, there's always the 2016 version, but I'll always love the original Ben-Hur as underdog, winning even though Messala's chariot, with blades attached to the hubs, destroys a number of fine charioteers. Fitting out a chariot with these blades was definitely not sporting, but allowed. You're not sorry when Messala dies a lingering death. He's always been a smooth-talking backstabber. Besides, he beats his horses unmercifully before horsewhipping Ben-Hur, in a segment even the Roman spectators boo. (Never mind that in real life, Ben Hur, the handsome Charlton Heston, became the NRA's best buddy, and Messala, the steamily masculine Stephen Boyd, cozied up to the Scientologists. Heston and Boyd were such great actors).
The scene makes me think of the Republican president-elect. His activities skirt the legalities in such invisible or suppressed ways that you'd think he was merely "not sporting." In today's New York Times, I read that President-elect Donald J. Trump has already built a wall — not on the border with Mexico, but on the border of his exclusive golf course in northeastern Scotland, blocking the sea view of local residents who refused to sell their homes. All this wall-building appears to be mildly on the side of legality, and local residents aren't pleased.
What a red herring, New York Times. Why not go after the bigger stories? Who's going to investigate the FBI? Who's going to go after Trump's taxes? His shady business dealings? Who's going to let the women at least continue to tell their stories instead of being frightened into silence? Is there a Charlotte Corday around who might tiptoe into Trump's bath? In my dreams she's Melania, and in gratitude, a Statue of Melania gets erected in New York Harbor. I hear myself whispering: Go, girl, go. He's not too nice to you and the kid, is he?

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Hurrah for Hamilton!

I couldn't have been prouder seeing the cast of Hamilton out there on stage politely airing the concerns of anyone who didn't vote for Trump and of many who did. Brandon Victor Dixon, I love you. How I wish I'd been there to see your talk in person. 
But along comes the boogeyman demanding an apology. Please don't apologize, Mr. Dixon. Let him apologize for bullying Mrs. Clinton, for all those shouted insults and interruptions to her on the debate stage and elsewhere. If you got the boogeyman in his substantial gut, then good for you.  Now here are Mr. Dixon's words, the ones I want for my children to remember: 

"Thank you for joining us at Hamilton: An American Musical. We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights. We hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values, and work on behalf of ALL of us. Thank you."

While I'm cheering him on again, let me ask why the FBI isn't going after the boogeyman? Are they already eating out of the palm of his hand? Sing on, Hamilton! 

Best case scenario: Mike Penn thanks Brandon Victor Dixon and says, "You've really made me think," and actually thinks. 

I don't even want to conjure up a worst-case. (Poor Megyn Kelly).
I can't believe Trump is still tweeting about this. I can't believe anyone takes him seriously. I can't believe the entire staff of the NY Times isn't saying to Trump, "Before you make such remarks to the cast of Hamilton, go apologize for your horrible treatment of Clinton and your racist, sexist remarks." I can't believe the entire staffs of the NY Times and other major newspapers, of  news networks, of CNN, of BBC,  are not actively, loudly, investigating Trump's tax fraud, business fraud, Trump university fraud, and horrible treatment of women. Why are these stories falling by the wayside in favor of hourly discussions of Trump's cabinet and conversation with the Times? I'm hearing from Boldpac and I was delighted to give NARAL $40. in Mike Pence's name. But why aren't news organizations covering Trump's shady, to put it mildly, dealings?  

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Glass Ceilinged: The Trumpling of Hillary Clinton

And by CNN, no less. Day before yesterday I sat watching Isha Sesay and John Vause chat with Rebecca Ruiz, a representative from MASHABLE.  Somewhere in that conversation, Benghazi came up yet again, as did emails. Why are the supposed peccadilloes of Hillary Clinton being picked over, and the crimes of Trump ignored? Why would anyone say Clinton ran a bad campaign when we know she'd have won without Comey's revival of the email nonsense? Why is CNN still not--DAILY--remarking on Trump's degradation of women, Trump's tax fraud, Trump's fraudulent university and charity foundations? Is CNN too busy reporting on the latest Trump issues with his advisors and cabinet? If so, why should that preclude the past behavior that should have prevented him from being anywhere near the seat of power?

At least CNN broached the glass ceiling:

Let's talk a little bit, shall we, about what some would call the bitter irony that Hillary Clinton's bid to become the first woman president was run off the tracks by another powerful woman at the helm of her male opponent's campaign.
REBECCA RUIZ, MASHABLE.COM: I think it would be accurate to call it a bitter irony but would hesitate to compare what Kellyanne Conway did to what Hillary Clinton tried to achieve this election season.

Kellyanne Conway was clearly very good at her job and she did impose as much discipline on Donald Trump as she possibly could. But you look at what the campaign Hillary Clinton put together over almost two years. And though she ultimately failed, at the end they are two completely different tasks, I think.

VAUSE: They are very different tasks but they are also -- and clearly, you know becoming the first female president is -- would be, you know, considerably a greater achievement than what Conway has done.

Sesay pointed out the influence of Ivanka Trump as "a moderating force in the campaign [who] kind of validated him in a positive way for women voters" and Rebecca Ruiz observed  that "both she and Kellyanne Conway acted as character witnesses for Donald Trump. So when the headlines got really bad and he got out of control on Twitter or in a debate they came out afterwards and cleaned up the mess and basically told the American people that's not the man I know. That's not the Donald Trump I've grown up with." 

Fine. Why didn't anyone point out that the conscienceless Tony Soprano was described in the same fashion by his daughter, Meadow, who tells her boyfriend, "I never saw one bit of violence," and who wouldn't have believed her own eyes if she'd seen Dad, who was taking her to see colleges, garrotte the guy in the woods who'd been "a rat."

We've seen Trump and the media garrotte Clinton enough. Enough already. Build support for Clinton and her values--our values--and draw attention to Trump's crimes. Then maybe women can really crack that glass ceiling.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Demagogue Diversions

Morality, Oscar Wilde tells us, is "simply the attitude we adopt towards those whom
we personally dislike." Anyone who "cannot talk morality twice a week to a 
large, popular, immoral audience is quite over as a politician." By these lights, 
Trump has been talking morality. So did Hitler, so have other demagogues. May I make 
the point that at least one has learned from her mistakes? Anita Bryant, who used to
say that if God had wanted homosexuals he'd have made Adam and Steve, not Adam and 
Eve, who, hit in the face with a pie, prayed for her assailant, begging God to 
"deliver him from his deviant lifestyle." But hey--does anyone notice she says, "At 
least it's fruit pie?" Maybe the ole gal was already coming 'round. She appears to have
come round now--the Florida Mom who plugged oranges and tried to kick gay people out
of the teaching profession and drive homosexuals from the nation says she now believes in living 
and letting live. Some sources say she says "just don't flaunt it or legalize it," and oh, Anita,
I am so disappointed in you if you're still qualifying your position. Stick to "live and let live."
But even if she's waffling, notice, please, that she's a woman, and she's more than halfway 
Did any of the other (male) demagogues even begin to apologize? 
They think real men don't apologize--and that's why women should rule 
the world! Good women! Like the Democratic contender. 
Hillary Clinton, we love you. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trump Protests

He's ignoring them so far. Quelling a crowd is harder than poisoning a single reporter--see Megyn Kelly's tale of the cab driver who insisted on buying her coffee right before she interviewed Trump: she began vomiting uncontrollably.  As I write ("within the last three  hours," says Google) she's being "forced to deny" the "rumors" that she was poisoned. Don't forget the woman who was raped at thirteen being threatened not to continue talking about the incident. As I write, CNN is broadcasting protestors bearing placards saying "Not My President," "Mein Trumph," and "Sexual Abuse," among other accurate accusations, while those far from the protests in rust belt cities that voted for Trump claim such slogans and protests are "disrespectful of the office of the president." Is it respectful of the office to which a candidate wishes to accede to shout accusations and insults at his opponent? ("Liar! Nasty woman!") Is it respectful of the office of the president to lie to the world, insisting President Obama wasn't born in the United States? Is it respectful to the office of the president to stand smiling as his supporters denigrate his opponent? ("Spank her! Lock her up! Execute her!") This week's Die Zeit (The Times, in Germany) shows a drawing of the Statue of Liberty cowering under an American flag, saying, in English, "Oh My God." Divine intervention is indeed what we need in this mess. No good can come of a Donald Trump presidency, and the constant efforts I see now to rehabilitate his image, plus his now mild declarations of respect for President Obama and Secretary Clinton, should not fool anyone. How deep Trump's tentacles go is a question. The FBI? The Justice Department? Why are both of these institutions silent now? His taxes? Trump University? Fraud? Never forget that Trump took his cues from Roy Cohn.The narcissistic sociopath does not change his spots. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Trumpastrophe and the Pundits

We'll never hear about Trump's taxes, you can bet on that. He won't go after Clinton personally--he'll just eviscerate Obamacare, the Environmental Protection Agency, marriage equality, Roe V. Wade, and the last shreds of decency on the Supreme Court. Johnny will get his guns. The United States has taken giant leaps backwards--is there still a United States? There's a United Hates, something we always knew existed. The very poor, very desperate, very trusting, very uneducated part of Trump's power base was easy to organize through hatred and fear, which make the weak feel as though they were strong. Uniting with love, "stronger together" is the truer message, the better message, and one that we can hope to hear ringing decades down the line, after de-Trumpification takes place, as I suppose it will, eventually. My twelve-year-old daughter just called from school, distraught. A friend on the Upper West Side of Manhattan emailed, "Can we move in with you?" Sure, I said.
I do blame, in part, the pundits and so-called moderators of the debates. Things happen incrementally, and at each small bad downward turn, these gatekeepers were not there to put a forceful stop to bad behavior. When Trump interrupted Clinton constantly, when he name-called, not one moderator said, "Mr. Trump, stop that right now: you are not allowed to talk to your opponent in that hostile manner. Apologize." Either they did not dare to do so--shame on you!--or they felt too stunned, and looked to Clinton as the Mommy who would make everything better. I don't feel any happier about the comments I am hearing from CNN this morning. Not one honest protest. "Historic victory"--if you're talking about Hitler marching into Poland, would you use that term? Never forget that all the pundits said "he wouldn't dare." If you're a praying type, start praying now. Some act of God could still prevent Trump and  Putin from stepping over the necks of the peasants on their way to yet more money, yet more power.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Eight Election Thoughts

(1) Did my absentee ballot arrive at the New York Board of Elections and get counted among the votes for Hillary?
(2) God forbid she loses.
(3) If she does, I can only reflect: disasters occasionally produce unexpectedly good results. It's hard, for example, to imagine a greater catastrophe than my parents' marriage. But I'm glad to be around, as are my kids. My husband is also glad I'm around and they're around.
(4) But this happy family would not be around without that disaster.
(5) If there's a de-Trumpification process in America, people will be sadder, but they will also be wiser.
(6) Will we live long enough for the wisdom to feel worthwhile?
(7) The most desperate thought: is there the tiniest chance that Trump isn't really as dreadful as I think he is?
(8) No, there isn't.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Trumped-Up Assassination Attempt?

How much did the Republican candidate pay that guy in the audience to yell "Gun!" How much did Mr. Trumper-Upper stage this whole supposed assassination attempt?

A. Completely

B. Not at all

Gentle, and not so gentle reader, tell me what you think. Nothing this guy does would surprise me, and if tomorrow Trump says some Democrat tried to kill him then, well, that's exactly the kind of thing he would say, isn't it?

I don't like assassinations but I do wish some Act of God would airlift him to his favorite hotel, where he'd stay, among the Lotos-eaters, forever, and forever out of politics. Forever out of business would be great, too, God, while you're at it. Just keep him comfortable but way, way, out of power.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Trumpesque Literary Figures

I've exhausted my run of real bad guys who resemble the Republican candidate. Forget Hitler and Mussolini--when I see Trump, I'm more reminded of Caligula. But when I turn to literature, there's always Voldemort or the Wicked Witch of the West for the malevolence, there's Dracula for sucking the poor bone dry, and then there's Huck Finn's dad for the yahoo resentments--consider this scene, just before the old man succumbs to the DTs: 

here was a free nigger there from Ohio—a mulatter, most as white as a white man. He had the whitest shirt on you ever seen, too, and the shiniest hat; and there ain't a man in that town that's got as fine clothes as what he had; and he had a gold watch and chain, and a silver-headed cane—the awfulest old gray-headed nabob in the State. And what do you think? They said he was a p'fessor in a college, and could talk all kinds of languages, and knowed everything. And that ain't the wust. They said he could VOTE when he was at home. Well, that let me out. Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to? It was 'lection day, and I was just about to go and vote myself if I warn't too drunk to get there; but when they told me there was a State in this country where they'd let that nigger vote, I drawed out. I says I'll never vote agin.

If folks like the Florida grandma who likes Trump for his anti-immigration policies never vote again, that's okay by me. She claims her ancestors came through "the proper channels"--what, Ellis Island?
But please, please, if you haven't voted for Madame Clinton, do so today.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Money Makes the Election Go Round

If there is one thing this registered Democrat who voted already for Hillary Clinton has learned, you can't do elections without a ton of triple-matched and quadruple-matched gifts. I send 'em, the three bucks, the one buck, the five bucks, but the infestation that is Donald Trump swats all donations aside and goes back to his own cornucopia. The man is money; he breathes it, excretes it. Money comes out in his dandruff. People seem to admire him for this quality. Enough that the FBI doesn't make public his tax fraud, business fraud, sexual harassment, and God knows what other dark deeds. A pathological liar, a self-made narcissist: this creature has climbed to the top of the American political system. When will the Republicans have the courage to reveal what they really know about this man?