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Friends,

Many people are now eagerly awaiting the third season of Poldark where the film-makers will be covering one and one-half fo the novels written in the 1970s: The Black Moon and The Four Swans.

So in anticipation although (I'll be away with my two daughters this weekend) I've no time to post on Caturday (Saturday).

Some weeks ago now I came across a photo of a cat and poem by Winston Graham, the author of these now famous 12 novels, which strengthen my idea that one of the smaller pleasures of the Poldark novels is Graham's love of animals, as seen in Demelza's early argument against cock-fighting, and her general behavior towards all sorts of animals, naming them, taking their presence into account (and that of other characters) now and again:

Don't plant me next to Mrs. Robinson,
I never got along with her too well.
Put me in a spot

Where the sun is nice and hot

And right out of earshot of that damned

. church bell.

Don't thank the doctor, Dr. Faversham.
He on
ly paid me visits four or five.

The result was quite appalling

For the object of his calling,

Which he hardly seemed to realise, was

keeping me alive.

See to my cat, Mr. Molotov.

Fill him up with liver and with lights.
A chair by the fire

Is something he'll require,

And don't allow him 'Out on windy nights.
Send a billet doux to the Chancellor
.
There's nothing for his old oak chest.

I gave my children two

All a decent man could do

And have taken special care to spend the

rest.

Call on the parson, Mr. Pakenham.

I'm sorry there's a sinner 'On his roll.
You might give him a prod

To get a word with God

And have a bit of mercy on a poor old
soul
.

This photo of a cat accompanied the verses; both published by the Kensington Press, 1970, in a collection called Just for Animals by M. Raymond Hawkins:





Well now the text and picture and idea are not as obscure as they once were.  Many thanks to Jim Dring, I recommend reading his whole website.

Miss Drake

These are important to watch and then read the framing commentary: business partners convicted and indicted businessmen, with connections to Russian oligarchs: it all starts in Trump tower:

Framing commentary: much blood and destruction (of workers, of people's houses and lands) on the hands of businessmen; Lev Lievev, one of circles of diamond businessmen with groups of gov't officials; connects back to Kushner this time:




Often crime is caught through the IRS prosecuting tax evasion: returns expose business practices, ties, money. This why Comey's investigation so important and should be carried on; of especial note is Laurence Tribe, much respected constitutional lawyer, writer about law, professor at Harvard, who outines case for impeachment.

At the same time it's no coincidence that Sessions re-starts 'war on drugs" (on black and poor people) re-instituting harsh mandatory long prison sentences where he can. This pleases part of the Trump base not connected to the wealthy. This connects to present US prison system (even with Holder's reforms):

I read a description of a new edition of a rare important diary about slavery in the Carribean at the end of the eighteenth centur in the review of the book. It is as ever horrifying genuinely to imagine what such a life is like and how a whole community of people can do this to another group of people. But another version of this is going on in our midst today and one can see how if people are not absolutely next to it, seeing it daily, then the horror goes on as long as the relatively few individuals empowered to keep the horror up are willing and supported by powerful members of the society.

Then this past Friday I participated in a group activity on behalf of incarcerated young people at the place where I teach. I didn't know what to expect and found that we were given poems written by young men (all black it seems, all in their teens or twenties) where they spoke of their anguish at the conditions they were living in. One young man, aged around 20 has been put in a facility where everyone regardless is put into solitary confinement for 18 months. There was a Frontline program on what the further realities of such a condition (solitary utterly) mean: humiliation upon humiliation and deprivation upon deprivation. Another was in a cell where he had not been given anything to do, and there was not even a clock. He could only tell what time it was by the light in the sky or lack of it. There was others. The US Attorney General is now asking that the harshest sentences for anyone offending in the criminal justice (injustice) system be meted out. One letter was about a young man given the death penalty in his early 20s where leniency was what should have happened. It was a first crime, an attempt to free his mother from abuse where he killed someone in an armed robbery.  I could go on. But in our midst is a population to whom analogous horrors are going on as in this 18th century travel book.

Last this mother's day is also Black Mama's Bail Out day: many black (and some white) poor women are held in jail because they have not the money for the bail, so an organization has worked to fund and produce money to pay this bail so these many women can be released on time for mother's day.

Miss Drake


Gwen John drawing

The poem below is the coda to Elsa Morante's Menzogna e sortilegio -- badly translated in English as House of Liars, a text which omits 200 pages of

the original. There has been an excellent article on Elsa Morante by Jenny Turner in the LRB for 20 April 2017. Turner comes closer to

underestanding and sympathizing with Morante than most though she quotes Pasolini and Parkes who both savage Morante's Historia as a mess when it

is a brilliantly effective l'ecriture femme account of the ravages of WW2 from the perpsective of a powerless working or lower middle class woman

who gives birth to an epileptic child.



Elena Ferrante's work is heavily indebted to Elsa Morante.

AN ODE

For Alvaro the Cat

Your nest is in my arms,

Indolent flame-like spirit, shining one.
High noons and the shadows of night are yours

You change from dove to owl and take your flight
From darkened tombs to the smoky netherworld

When every light is spent, the pupils of your eyes

Shine in the darkness, companion of my sleeplessness

The solemn truce is broken, a thousand torches

Burn briefly in the night, as little tigers
Follow each other in the sweet delirium.

Then your blank lamplike eyes
Are closed in rest, lights which will
be in the morning

The glory of my windowsill, my double flower

Of lovely eyes.

And I was once your equal!

Your equal ... Do you recall that ancient time,
Creature of arrogant sorrow? Under dark leaves
We dwelt together in the shining garden

Among the simple tribes of Paradise.

My fate was exile; but your home is there
How then can you grant me your love
o savage one?

While your peers, the animals of heaven:

Live like the gods at ease, before the dawn

Holding their feasts and wars and heartless chase,
Why do you stay by my side, you who are free,

Deathless and innocent, while in my very breath
Live the three dooms of prison, sin, and death?
Among the moons and suns there, glistening thorns

and fleeting shades,

Leap the immortal young, proud in their strength
In the splendid hurricane of breaking day --
All your gallant brothers with the lovely names:
Atropos, Viola, Passion Flower, Palomba.

Is it for love of me you stay?

No answer? You hide all longed-for secrets

As the Damascene sword conceals its shining blade
In a sheath of velvet, zebra-striped. The secrets of the

beasts

Are not for women's ears. Then close your eyes and

sing,

Sing me sweet flatteries in your PUTTS and sighs,
Sing praises, make your honey, 0 my bee.

The memory of all my questions fades,

Crows shadowy, and I would rest.

The simple joy of having you for friend

Fills my heart to the brim; my agonies and fancies
Die in your kisses and your sweet laments,

So deeply you console me,

a cat of mine

A very worthwhile book on Cats: Dr Nicholas Dodman's Attitudes, Emotions, and the Psychology of Cats: The cat who cried for help: this is an excellent study in the mode of Oliver Sacks: a cat whose behavior is inconveniencing or troubling its owner is taken to Dodman who diagnoses the ill often mistreated cat and then extrapolates out from there. It will help you understand your cat, treat him or her more humanely, have a good relationship on both sides.  It will also show you how cruel and thoughtless owners are: how they do not see the cat for itself but as an adjunct of their own existence. I do this too, I am as guilty, and like many try to find some compromise between the way I want to spend my minutes, hours, days and what the cat wants as well as what is good for it. The great controversy is whether to let the cat go out. It's too late for mine as they are over 8 and have never been out.  They sit by the window and look longingly and I know were I to leave the door open eventually they would go out. They would probably be quickly killed - run over, starve (as they have never been taught to eat what they hunt). It's too late for them; for others the outdoor life shortens theirs, but I understand from the book that British cats mostly are indoors/outdoors. Sigh. They have as many cars as Americans, as many diseases.

Following Dodman I know Ian cries because he needs more play and I am now playing with him more and he is yet more enjoying life. This book can make for less suffering and loneliness in the world as so many own cats or care for them if only we will listen to, heed Dr Dodman.


Miss Drake




One of the last public statements Michelle Obama made was how we all need hope; on this day when so many deaths (bombs, drones, executions) have been happening everywhere and health care and our US pension system, is threatened, millions of decent good people marched on behalf of the extraordinary good that science has done for life on earth, and demanded that those who exploit and pollute the earth be controlled or prevented,

read Bill McKibben,

Read about the demonstration in DC and satellite events by and for science (remember Trump and his gang do this to make large profits for him and themselves quite literally -- it is impeachable if we had the political power).

I am having a hard time keeping hope alive for myself: I see no change or doable goal that can enable me to build a new life.



Charles Camoin, Interior with a View

by Muriel Rukeyser:

Kathe Kollewitz:

I

Held between wars

my lifetime

among wars, the big hands of the world of death

my lifetime

listens to yours.

The faces of the sufferers

in the street, in dailiness,

their lives showing

through their bodies

a look as of music

the revolutionary look

that says I am in the world

to change the world

my lifetime

is to love to endure to suffer the music

to set its portrait

up as a sheet of the world

the most moving the most alive

Easter and bone

and Faust walking among flowers of the world

and the child alive within the living woman, music of man

and death holding my lifetime between great hands

the hands of enduring life

that suffers the gifts and madness of full life, on earth, in

our time,

and through my life, through my eyes, through my arms

and hands

may give the face of this music in portrait waiting for

the unknown person

held in the two hands, you.

II.

Women, as gates, saying:

"The process is after all, like music:

like the development of a piece of music.

The fugues come back and

again and again

interweave.

A theme may seem to have been put aside,

but it keeps returning—

the same thing modulated,

somewhat changed in form.

Usually richer.

And it is very good that this is so."

A woman pouring her opposites.

"After all there are happy things in life too.

Why do you show only the dark side?"

"I could not answer this. But I know--

in the beginning my impulse to know

the working life

had little to do with

pity or sympathy.

I simply felt that the life of the workers was beautiful."

She said, "I am groping in the dark."

She said, "When the door opens, of sensuality,

then you will understand it too. The struggle begins.

Never again to be free of it,

often you will feel it to be your enemy.

Sometimes

I you will almost suffocate,

such joy it brings."

Saying of her husband:

"My wish I is to die after Karl.

I know no person who can love as he can,

with his whole soul.

Often this love has oppressed me;

I wanted to be free.

But often too it has made me I so terribly happy."

She said : "We rowed over to Carrara at dawn,

climbed up to the marble quarries

and rowed back at night. The drops of water

fc!l like glittering stars

from our oars."

She said: "As a matter of fact,

I believe

that bisexuality

is almost a necessary factor

in artistic production; at any rate,

the tinge of masculinity within me

helped me

in my work."

She said : "The only technique I can still manage.

It's hardly a technique at all, lithography.

In it

only the essentials count."

A tight-lipped man in a restaurant last night

saying to me:

"Kollwitz? She's too black-and-white."

Ill

Held among wars, watching

all of them

all these people

weavers,

Carmagnole

Looking at

all of them

death, the children

patients in waiting-rooms

famine

the street

the corpse with the baby

floating, on the dark river

A woman seeing

the violent, inexorable

movement of nakedness

and the confession of No

the confession of great weakness, war,

all streaming to one son killed, Peter;

even the son left living; repeated,

the father, the mother; the grandson

another Peter killed in another war; firestorm;

dark, light, as two hands,

this pole and that pole as the gates.

What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?

The world would split open ....

4 Song: The Calling-Up

Rumor, stir of ripeness

rising within this girl

sensual blossoming

of meaning, its light and form.

The birth-cry summoning

out of the male, the father

from the warm woman

a mother in response.

The word of death

calls up the fight with stone

wrestle with grief with time

from the material make

an art harder than bronze.

5 Self-Portrait

Month looking directly at you

eyes in their inwardness looking ,

directly at you

ha1f light half darkness

woman, strong, German, young artist

flows into

wide sensual mouth meditating

lookking right at you

eyes shadowed with brave hand

looking deep at you

flows into

wounded brave mouth

grieving and hooded eyes

alive, German, in her first War

flows into

strength of the worn face 2

a skein of lines

broods, flows into

mothers among the war graves

bent over death

facing the father

stubborn upon the field

flows into

the marks of her knowing­_

Nie Wieder Krieg

repeated in the eyes

flows into

"Seedcorn must not be ground"

and the grooved cheek

lips drawn fine

the down-drawn grief

face of our age

flows into

Pieta, mother and

between her knees

life as her son in death

pouring from the sky of

one more war

flows into

face almost obliterated

hand over the mouth forever

hand over one eye now

the other great eye

closed

*********

Not To Be Printed,

Not To Be Said,

Not To Be Thought

I'd rather be Muriel

than be dead and be Ariel.

**********

The German 'Nie wieder Krieg' means 'No More War' (lit. 'never again war'), the slogan of the anti-war marches that are still held here in Aug/Sept (the

beginning of the First World War). Kollwitz produced a famous poster banner with it for the 1924 Youth Day in Leipzig:

http://www.dhm.de/lemo/objekte/pict/p62-23/index.html

'She ends on Michelangelo' s Pieta" and one of Kollwitz's, too:


This is the copy standing on the national monument mourning the victims of war and tyranny in Berlin - here a fuller picture:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/97924400@N00/2574129952



Miss Drake
I didn't say I would not talk about politics but that I wished to change direction.  The story of United Airlines treatment of a 69 year old physician has caught the public eye: it's been reported by major and minor news outlets alike; the YouTube video of the incident is the first to get onto the Internet in months (since Trump was elected, videos of police brutality have vanished).

I write because there is a central problem in how the incident is literally explained:  it was not a case of overbooking: the airline illegally exacted from a passenger his paid-for seat in order to give it to employees because that suited the airlines' convenience (and pocketbook) better:  read the lawyer's explain here.

United Passenger "Removal:"

The reporting is also not focusing with enough precision on the casual resort to ultra-violence. Here is an egregious display of how US people resort to violence first as a solution to difficulties. The man won't volunteer, and then picked on, won't cooperate: so he is called disruptive and belligerent; in fact the first thing they did in response to his refusal was call a crew of men who immediately dragged him down an aisle, blooded and knocked him out. He is today in the hospital. Dare I say (paraphrasing Diane Reynolds) if he had been a black man on a Greyhound bus with would have heard of an "accidental" death -- he could have been killed. The first response of the US to Assad dropping chemical weapons on children is to kill some more: not to ease immigrant restrictions, not to send effective aid.

It is troubling to see most of the passengers sit there and much ordinary commentary that either defends the airline or shows a lack of concern: as long as "I" get the cheapest flight the monopoly of these airlines will allow. The passengers cried out but they all sat there and some hugged their seats tighter. The US population accepts United's behavior.

Two related issues:  On the nearly abusive exploitation of airports:  I've now read and had validated many times over how miserable is the treatment of passengers in US airline terminals: egregiously high prices in enclosed super-luxurious restaurants or absurdly high for poor quality (almost inedible) food and drink. No comfortable chairs, asked to go through routines. The TSA a completely empowered bullying group. It is a fact and truth that many airline terminals of other countries are very much better, more humane: cafes to eat at, no suspicious atmosphere, amenities on offer easily.

Paying for it: since Expedia managed to cheat me of $1800 I have discovered my experience is even common. You want a cheaper flight and go to Orbitz or Expedia. On the side it may and often does say non-refundable and subject to change (meaning you can be put on another flight at another time and have no recourse. I wrote at length about my experience here:

Expedia's scams

Airplane travel today

I don't know a lot of people and many are unwilling to tell of when they've been cheated or mistreated but I can name 5 people who've told me now and again they drive long distances rather than take an airplane.  In many areas of the US Amtrak almost doesn't exist so few are the trains coming across the landscape in a given 24 hours. Buses take forever.

I don't go into conditions on the planes or the Indian caste system which has evolved so the slightest amenity (an "extra") must be paid for in another segregated space. Just a picture will do:


The airlines practice ruthless tyranny; the newspapers and even public are complicit.

Miss Drake
I've decided to change the nature and content of this blog again -- until such time as I think there is something hopeful to post about again in the public political world of human beings.  I am not sure what direction I'm going to take it in, but for a start I thought each Saturday would be a Caturday, where I would post not just about cats but all forms of non-human animal life.

So today to mark spring, I put a photo of one of my older daughter's (four) beloved cats climbing around a tree in her back garden.



I'm a lover of women's poetry, a poet of the later 18th into 19th century, critic, writer of children's books, educator, Anna Barbauld, a very great favorite with me, wrote thus to one of her friends of her apparently beloved companion,

To a dog:

Dear faithful object of my tender care,

Whom but my partial eyes none fancy fair;
May I unblamed display thy social mirth,
Thy modest virtues, and domestic worth:

Thou silent, humble flatterer, yet sincere,
More swayed by love than interest or fear;
Solely to please thy most ambitious view,

As lovers fond, and more than lovers true.
Who can resist those dumb beseeching eyes,
Where genuine eloquence persuasive lies?

Those eyes, where language fails, display thy heart
Beyond the pomp of phrase and pride of art.

Thou safe companion, and almost a friend,

Whose kind attachment but with life shall end,-
Blest were mankind if many a prouder name
Could boast thy grateful truth and spotless fame!


This is how I feel about my ClaryCat and IanPussycat too.  Maybe someday I'll adopt a puppydog once again. I had dog-companion many years ago.

Miss Drake


Angela Merkel - she is not usually photographed smiling

Friends,

I am told via face-book and a couple of blogs today is World Poetry Day. The poems chosen are usually of the soothing kind, or descriptively, neutrally seasonal.  I differ once again and offer a powerful essay by Mary Beard, Women in Power, in which she uses the hideous pictorial treatment meted out to Hillary Clinton, and the more typical treatment meted out to Angela Merkel (who came on a diplomatic visit to the US this week), to reveal how there is no template, no image the world accepts which is both appropriate for women and someone exercising power.

From the LRB, 39:5 (March 2017): Women in Power

This treatment of women is ancient and the way it is gotten away with is by erasure and telling stories that show a complete lack of imagination of what the woman at the center of the story might experience. So many stories utterly cavalier with women's lives: In Winter's Tale it's just fine that Hermione lives a sort of living death for 16 years is typical.

Another classicist, the poet, Ann Stanford (one of her great books of poetry, is titled Holding our Own), has a searing "Andromeda" that rectifies this and may stand for how women across the globe are endangered today, from refuges to women outside the US on whom drones may be dropped just like this (and their children), and women on US college campuses:

I am terrified

marooned on a rock with a gale

freshening and the waves already

spatter me with spindrift.

What could my father be thinking of!

Listening to a two-faced oracle,

chaining me like a dog in this gnashing water.

It is low tide now – high tide will be the end of me.

I will either drown struggling against water

or be caught here by the monster from the sea

the claws searing me along the bone

the teeth quick cutting through flesh and nerve.

It is grim being a sacrifice.

The garlands, the watching crowds, cannot make me heroic.

My legs tremble and fire streaks across my brain

the roots of my hair are daggers.

If this were a story there would be a hero

to swim through the impossible waves, a sword at his belt.

He would cast off my chains, kill the monster,

take me

out of this country mad with fear and riddles.

But all I am sure of is the explosion of waves,

my mother crying from the shore, the seething

wings

of a large invisible bird circling the rock,

and the head of the monster coming up over the horizon.



Ann Redpath (1895-1965, Scots woman painter) Still Life with Orange Chair

I have had the luck to have been born in 1946 in NYC, to have had decent parents, gone to college basically for free, and met a good kind loving and intelligent husband who made enough money for us to live, and left with a widow's annuity. This is one of the fates women understandably yearn for when they see it romanticized in books and movies. I like quiet pictures.

Miss Drake



Friends,

I don't know which to write about first:  the morally sickening blatant racism of the Republicans's destruction of the ACA as devised and passed by the Obama administration or the now rapid advance of the vast transfer of wealth that has been going on in the US since the 1980s when Reagon took office.

But perhaps I should start with this parable: the Democratic party can no longer fight the Republican successfully because the Republicans are now shamelessly anti-democracy and are doing all they can to destroy all rights for everyone but the super-rich (voter suppression, egregious reactionaries running the courts, gutting the first amendment to the point that organizing peaceful protest is racketeering, gutting the power of any office where a democrat has won, giving police power to kill with impunity) while the democrats persist in behaving if in a partisan manner (yes they gerrymandered) it's not to the point of destroying any power the constitution (checks and balances) originally intended for parties, religions, political persuasions of all kinds. The Republican party today is a group of people armed with guns they are willing to kill the other side with; the Democratic party is a group of people who don't want to kill anyone and think still to negotiate and compromise; they don't even want guns.



I felt so morally sickened when I watched for less than a minute these Republicans destroy Obamacare. It was given that name because it has been invented by a black man. I have been told that many people saying they hated Obamacare would then say they liked the Affordable Care Act, not knowing these were the same thing. I feel they did more out of spite against a black man than almost anything else. Oh yes throw millions off the system, yes allow businesses not to offer health care, yes to stop subsides, yes give the rich more tax breaks but the real thing they were after was to humiliate Barack Obama. There was nothing in ACA they couldn't afford, that hurt them one little bit. This was a vast racist act in front of the world. I feel so ashamed to have to live in this country and have people like this present themselves as representing the people of the US. I know these people are fleecing me and conducting a vast transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to the very wealthy. They never believed in democracy and now they act this out. How will democrats fight them? They have taken over because they have destroyed central aspects of democracy at every turn. They will continue to do so. I know Obama does not need my sorrow for him; he will be very rich man for the rest of his life but nonetheless this racist spectacle is horrible. They couldn't care less about MLK because they killed him (at age 37!), but they didn't kill this black man, instead they thwarted him at every turn (he tried for a bill where he would have reformed immigration itself legally) and now where he succeeded so importantly, have killed what they could of him. He kept thinking he was their Negro when he'd tried to negotiate ....




When I paid this year's taxes I realized that the US gov't takes in effect 3 of my 12 checks away. I make less than $50,000 a year with my social security and widow's annuity. I pay a heft tax for land and house I live in. This situation is the result of 40 years of changes which has taken the very wealthy from paying 90% on a calculated percentage of their luxury income (a formulation wiped out in the 1980s) to less than 30% of all their income omitting money protected under many many deducations and formula so that no tax is paid.

What is happening is the prevention of accumulation of income. Ta Nehisi Coates made a splash when In the Atlantic he demanded reparations after he demonstrated how for decades black people were fleeced and prevented from accumulating anything. My parents lived in a rent control apartment, maybe they took 3 trips in their lives, he had hardly any clothes (she had a closet stuffed and no where to wear them), he took his books from the library. I cost nothing to go to college; I never had a wedding. They didn't give anything to help buy the house.  So since the 1970s they accumulated bit bybit -- slowly.  She also took out loans and paid them back. But what I have is chicken feed to  wealth person. It's a cushion. I can leave Izzy the house and if I stop taking trips I will leave the money my parents left me. Eaten up by inflation.

Fees for so much and so high. Nowadays the 8th amendment is gutted .As punishment any court can bankrupt a person. We have a form of debtors' prison for those who can't pay court bills. With privating prisons (shown to offer deadly care), I've read in some of them for the person to eat well his or her relatives has to a pay. I'm also paying monthly far more than Jim would have countenanced, from the cable TV for $225 a month to the cell phone for $160. but Izzy loves both; they are central to the comfort of her existence and the Internet too. 4 sports channels, 2 money channels, a little computer she takes with her.

The renewed gouging of people for health care and the huge sums demanded for college educations makes a further reverse: millions end up in hopeless debt: peonage.  There was a phone town hall meeting with Don Beyer, the congressman for my area, and of all the subjects he presented not one concerned taxes, not one about money. So you were given 4 choices what worries you most, environment, the immigration snatching (not put that way), civil rights and another. There was no choice for diminishing income and gouging. No choice which would bring out how the republicans are now stymying the Consumer Financial Protection Board. People could ask questions and each one almost concerned some worry he or she had which went back to a lack of money but no principle is brought out. The Nation (which now sends me paper copies again) had a long story about Sanders: he is a socialist and it's been a very slow climb up; he doesn't get to reach people; he had 1/16th the coverage of Trump. The day he won so many primaries and made a speech, his speech was not broadcast. He presents himself as for gov't-supported college but the center of that is not going into debt and it's not attached by him publicly to his other interest: universal health care, single payer. And the average person doesn't think and is ashamed.




In the NYRB there was a striking article by David Cole on how the right for free speech is not enough. What I thought remarkable among many things he said is it was Roosevelt who was a rare public advocate for the state working proactively to make sure this free speech reached everyone. FDR was the one president we've had in history who had the strength, power, will and vision to set up the legacy that ever since has been whittled away and now is about to be defunded: I am sorry to say it's a locked one:

The refusal to fund public transportation isolates people. This Trump regime is not going to rebuild the infrastructure but give a bonanza of tax breaks to companies with no effective demand they build roads, railroads, public transportation systems. It's been shown again and again the promises Trump gets from companies to hire people in the US and build factories here are never fulfilled.

Public transportation doesn't exist in much of the country. Last night I had ahelluva time getting into DC to see an HD screening of a play from the National Theater. Pinters No Man's Land. Actually it was enigmatic and not as it should have been overtly political: only than what you saw would make sense. Many in the audience sat there like the people watching the emperor with no clothes -- or maybe there was no such outer perspective.  But it took me well over an hour each way because of "single tracking" trains. No money put into the Metro for years and now they are desperately fixing what is dangerous. You are told find some other way to 'get there.' Carpool. Right.  Take a cab.  Right.


Into the Woods -- Blake out of Dante

In the NYRB books an essay by the usually un-alarmist Elizabeth Drew and she was alarmed. At the end she suggests despite the obvious set of cogent aims at regulations, any social program paid for by taxes, and deep racism of Trump and his regime's agenda, he is also mentally crazy, either with some kind of dementia (the limited vocabulary) or emotional disorder. Next to it was a long letter from college presidents to Trump against his immigration policy as wreaking havoc centrally on US education in colleges. These people are trains scholars, potentially productive people as students, the progams to be destroy (NEA) are important helps. The two together show a whole way of life is to be destroyed. I suppose this is what Hitler successfully attempted until he lost WW2.


Lastly the great irony that it is the average person paying another  15% towards social security across the US who is funding much of this fascist regime:

This was Alan Greenspan’s trick that he pulled in the 1980s as head of the Greenspan Commission. He said that what was needed in America was to traumatize the workers – to squeeze them so much that they won’t have the courage to strike. Not have the courage to ask for better working conditions. He recognized that the best way to really squeeze wage earners is to sharply increase their taxes. He didn’t call FICA wage withholding a tax, but of course it is. His trick was to say that it’s not really a tax, but a contribution to Social Security. And now it siphons off 15.4% of everybody’s pay check, right off the top.


The effect of what Greenspan did was more than just to make wage earners pay this FICA rake-off out of their paycheck every month. The charge was set so high that the Social Security fund lent its surplus to the government. Now, with all this huge surplus that we’re squeezing out of the wage earners, there’s a cut-off point: around $120,000. The richest people don’t have to pay for Social Security funding, only the wage-earner class has to. Their forced savings are lent to the government to enable it to claim that it has so much extra money in the budget pouring in from social security that now it can afford to cut taxes on the rich.

So the sharp increase in Social Security tax for wage earners went hand-in-hand with sharp reductions in taxes on real estate, finance for the top One Percent – the people who live on economic rent, not by working, not by producing goods and services but by making money on their real estate, stocks and bonds “in their sleep.” That’s how the five percent have basically been able to make their money.

The idea that Social Security has to be funded by its beneficiaries has been a setup for the wealthy to claim that the government budget doesn’t have enough money to keep paying. Social Security may begin to run a budget deficit. After having run a surplus since 1933, for 70 years, now we have to begin paying some of this savings out. That’s called a deficit, as if it’s a disaster and we have to begin cutting back Social Security. The implication is that wage earners will have to starve in the street after they retire.

The Federal Reserve has just published statistics saying the average American family, 55 and 60 years old, only has about $14,000 worth of savings. This isn’t nearly enough to retire on. There’s also been a vast looting of pension funds, largely by Wall Street. That’s why the investment banks have had to pay tens of billions of dollars of penalties for cheating pension funds and other investors. The current risk-free rate of return is 0.1% on government bonds, so the pension funds don’t have enough money to pay pensions at the rate that their junk economics advisors forecast. The money that people thought was going to be available for their retirement, all of a sudden isn’t. The pretense is that nobody could have forecast this!

There are so many corporate pension funds that are going bankrupt that the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation doesn’t have enough money to bail them out. The PBGC is in deficit. If you’re going to be a corporate raider, if you’re going to be a Governor Romney or whatever and you take over a company, you do what Sam Zell did with the Chicago Tribune: You loot the pension fund, you empty it out to pay the bondholders that have lent you the money to buy out the company. You then tell the workers, “I’m sorry there is nothing there. It’s wiped out.” Half of the employee stock ownership programs go bankrupt. That was already a critique made in the 1950s and ‘60s.


Miss Drake

Guernica: the left out doers

This evening after reading a rare political blog by Danielle Ofri, an important woman writer on medicine who rarely writes politically:

When was the last time a President of the United States put so many people in harm's way

And then came across this photo of the Republicans rejoicing at their destroying all social programs by defunding or eliminating but especially the destruction of the Affordable Care Act which they hate especially because it's the invention of a black man



and made practically real another human right, the right to health care, I thought to myself the problem with Pablo Picasso's Guernica is while he shows us the ruthless destruction of a people in Spain (comparable to the ruthless killing of millions in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, now we know black people in the US on the streets), we often leave out who is doing this and their real pleasure in doing it. I came across a blog by a writer I respect who was very concerned to refute the idea that part of the wealthy's enjoyment of hierarchy and wealth is to be able to look down and despise those who haven't got what they have because this is so distressing and seems such a hard thing (if it's so) to counter: shameless triumph. Guernice is too well know so let me substitute a photograph by an important if not well know woman photographer of the Spanish civil, this of a crippled man and his child under the sky filled with airplanes raining bombs:



I know it's being reprinted in many places on the Internet but this summary of the bills the Republicans would like to pass is too revealing and concise to pass over:

1. HR 861 Terminate the Environmental Protection Agency
2. HR 610 Vouchers for Public Education
3. HR 899 Terminate the Department of Education
4. HR 69 Repeal Rule Protecting Wildlife
5. HR 370 Repeal Affordable Care Act
6. HR 354 Defund Planned Parenthood
7. HR 785 National Right to Work (this one ends unions)
8. HR 83 Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Bill
9. HR 147 Criminalizing Abortion (“Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act”)
10. HR 622 Removing federal policing from National Parks turning over to local authorities.

Miss Drake

Power concedes nothing without a demand -- Frederick Douglass

Every day in every way he's hurting someone: Trump signs executive eliminating regulations against dumping debris from coal in rivers, ACA benefits denied this and that person and they are shocked; a woman commits suicide told she is now eligible for benefits that paid her food and rent (that's in the UK); eliminated NEH, NEA, what he could of PBS, and now after Americorps; the 7th floor of central department, everyone in it fired, not to be replaced, their work deemed worthless; Somalis from the midwest seen fleeing into Canada....

A gov't absolutely unorganized (from the Conversation Trump only once ran a public company and it was disastrous); his impeachable behavior (colluding with Russian gov', undermining law) -- as yet, Michael Hayden, says they meant to destroy gov't institutions in order to ignore them, but institutions fighting back; openly making money, awarded contracts by the Chinese; around the cities of the US legalized criminal behavior -- snatching non-white non-citizens in the street (people go into hiding); justified fear Republicans could use any violent incident to overtly stop the veneer of democracy; news stories about individual lives wrecked and a Top Aide in Trump's "white house" recording a reporter ,and then editing the tape in order to try to sue the reporter ... Also a new regular feature: a good poem from an anthology by Garrison Keillor and a study of torture, one essay at a time ...

Dear friends and readers,

It's very hard to keep up this blog. Amid the welter of the past two weeks' events (I've not posted here for 12 days), what can I possibly focus on to make coming here worth while. I'd have to begin writing hourly.  I can't. So for this week I vow each week to provide one poem, a good poem from Garrison Keillor's anthology, Good Poems, prescient, foreseeing that we are going to need comfort and strength. Then each week I'll provide another insight from an important essay anthology my husband had begun to read before he too was taken by our polluted environment through cancer: Speaking of Torture: America Tortures, edd. Julie A Carlson and Elisabeth Weber. Then depending on what happened over the week a round-up summary, URLs, ending on something a bit lighter, with a video.



My buddy, my boy, this week: Ian pussycat, how he loves to press his body against mine, chest to chest, his head nudging mine from the side, expressing love.

**************

I'm a literary scholar and spend much of my life reading nowadays, and used to spend myself teaching.   While Michael Moore is more to the point while we wait for enough Republicans and the Democratic party to wake up and get into active oppositional and produce a new progressive agenda (that is what is minimally needed), Garrison Keillor is there for us. From this week's Progressive Populist, and online at the Denver Post, read his "Republicans the Nation looks to you" and in the Washington Post and online at the Hartford Courant the comfort of his "Strangers meet in a Snowstorm."

From Good Poems:

To be of use by Marge Piercy:

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
**********************
From Speaking of Torture:

I find it no coincidence that the other two great books I know are Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain, and Susan Sontag, Regarding the pain of others. The purpose of torture is not to gain information; it's to destroy people, whole populations, terrorize. If he asked me, I would advise Edward Snowden to kill himself if any official comes to his door to extradite. Rush into the bathroom and shoot himself through the head. Trump will use him mercilessly to gain huge points with parts of his base.

I have to understand more what is meant by the word "hauntology." What happens to people is they lose their belief in themselves as human beings: stripped, shaven, forced to defecate and urinate in public with nothing to clean them, tortured beyond endurance (the introduction says the Bush techniques were as bad as the Nazis), they live beyond death. They are like people who have died.  This is what Gabaldon captures in her fantasy Outlander -- only she does not realize there is no coming back. That's what this introduction says. A key element: from the time we are young we look to others for help. We expect help. This is from our relationship with our mother. The tortured person sees no one will help him or her. That abandonment is central to the new view of others and life that cannot be gotten over.


**********************


Refugees in the Underground (1941) by Henry Moore
This week's round-up:

I urge all those interested in what's happening in the US tonight (except it was written before Trump's gov't began rounding up and deporting hundreds of illegal immigrants where their crime is false identification -- you can't get a job without such identification), to read it David Bromwich in the London Review of Books: Act One, Scene One:
:
Chris Hedges (TruthDig) is often too hysterical in his rhetoric; not this man.  Bromwich says we have two possibilities to hold onto this democracy: 1) the democratic party must change its behavior hugely and become a party of opposition for real; and/or 2) we must impeach Trump. If the first doesn't happen, another part and organization must emerge and start to gain power. What is it Shakespeare's Antigonus said before he fled the bear:  This is the chase: I am gone for ever.

Yes he is pleasing a load of his followers but what they want (a wall, anti-immigration stance, overt looking like he's getting them jobs, "make America great again" rhetoric) is making for hardly any government at all. He never ran a public company -- where he would have had to work with other people, submit to governance, open disclosures, plan with others and his one foray was disastrous; he ran a private company with his family and loyal followers obedient to him.

The conditions for women refugees in Dunkirk are horrifying. The men running it (I suppose) have managed to make no locks on women's bathrooms.  Raped, beaten, abused, trafficked -- that's what happens to women refuges.

http://tinyurl.com/gs8pq79


It seems that Trump's campaign was in contact with members of the Russian government well before the election, and right afterwards offering such members what they could in exchange for help undermining the US election, e.g., disseminating fake news to harm Hillary Clinton. It's egregious that Trump has transparent conflicts of interest: he excluded from his Muslim ban people from countries with whom his companies do business, regardless whether they had a large number of nationals in the 9/11 attacks. These are all impeachable offenses.

Meanwhile Trump's ICE literally snatches people up in the streets who are in the US illegally, now matter how many years. They are called felons if they have used false documentation to get a job. That covers just about everyone. The analogy with Hitler gatherine up Jews is not strained. It should be regarded as legalized criminal behavior. My father used to say much of what happened in foreign policy on the part of the US and other nations was criminal, international law according to humane principles done when it hurt no gov'ts interests, but some acts are wildly worse -- bombing civilians in Yemen for example.

I don't know what I would do were I living on a block where ICE people were appearing and seeking out people who look like immigrants, stopping them and snatching them away. There is no one on my block just now as I look out my window. When I lived in NYC, out of one of my windows from early morning to early evening there were a continual movement of people, from apartment houses to shopping to the subway. I lived under the big hill of the Cloisters on the top of Manhattan.  I think I would have felt hysterical and gone wild

I read three more stories of lives wrenched and perhaps hurt badly forever by Trump's policies.The state depart has notified a group of Yemenese students here with VISA and small scholarships all will disappear in 6 months. Yemen is a terrible place because the US facilitates and sends billions to the Saudis. Obama kept such people in the US while sending the bombs. A suicide reported over housing.

A top Trump aide recorded an altercation with a reporter that the Trump place has been targeting, then this aide edited it to try to accuse the reporter of assaulting her and threaten suit. This is ominous. It's a Trump policy: lie and then sue.  The good news is someone else recorded this too and now there is an unedited tape showing the Aide is lying. But the Aide keeps lying.  Importance: theTrump white house is recording reporters without telling them and ready to use the tapes and edit them to destroy the reporters' careers.

The Nation talks of how democrats need to peel off enough of Trump's supporters as they become disillusioned -- that's not enough. The democrats then if winning would again not answer to deep problems Hillary supporters want fixed.  They need to change their agenda to genuinely progressive like Sanders. He is slowly getting his following again but he finds that local powers refuse him room and has to fright to find places for his rallies. I read Katha Politt the other day and was astonished at how she seemed to agree with Neanderthal attitudes about women.  I know she is not a good thinker but this is hypocrisy and won't help -- it just lies there like dead spaghetti.  Who could she be addressing? Why do these columnists think berating those who voted for them and have liberal views is a good way to build a government with decent people in charge?

A group of people went to Kaine and Warner's offices (Virginia Senators)  just this morning. They said the election was stolen and Kaine ought to be our Vice President.  I was disappointed last night though to see on the news on the Net no one but Goodman coming near the word impeachment. A leading democratic senator a woman looked anxious when on PBS Woodruff asked her an uncomfortable question, where is the investigator going?  She was afraid to offend her relationships with the republicans. The problem is people care more about their relationships with one another as that's the basis of politics and yet the hegemonic point of view at this point must be overturned.

By this time in Obama's first administration he had submitted to congress his stimulus package, it'd been signed and was beginning to operate. Obama had signed many executive orders which were beginning to operate. His appointees knew how to run gov't departments. The Trump white house and administration is chaotic. He spends hours obsessively watching TV news (Fox mostly) and then tweeting when something is said that fits his world view: it's true if when he repeats this his words are believed by huge numbers of people who voted for him. Against this -- or reinforcing it seems town hall meetings of Republicans across the US are filled with deeply angry voters, people who voted for Trump, angry at their coming loss of health care and fearful of loss of things they have contributed to and count on (social security, medicare). No jobs have materialized for these people

It is true that Trump's gov't by fiat (executive orders) and the congress have done a lot of harm and are planning to do more. They are dismantling ACA, they are depriving the Consumer Finance Protection Agency, the one gov't place where ordinary citizens find active protection and information to help them against fraud of all their powers. Planned Parenthood is defunded. Women across the US with little money depend on PP for ordinary health care as well as care for their reproductive system. In the case of Bowe Bergdahl, Trump a 5 time draft dodger has made it impossible for this man to receive decent absolution -- a fair trial even, an ex-prisoner of war. Judge, Jury and Executioner

Against these developments all else pales. There has been so much worth reading and watching on the Internet (while we still have it -- it's threatened by the new FCC chair who has already refused to fund broad band access for poor people, people in rural areas, and has signed orders which corrode Net Neutrality) so I leave my reader to follow up on anything I've managed to cull.

**********************************

A little lighter:

And the word "sad" has had it. Ruined. Especially when accompanied by an exclamation point. I vow to avoid it. For those into tweeting: you might hurl the phoneme and its punctuation three times over at the World's Cunningly Moronic Tweeter at regular intervals. I can't be sad any more. Discouraged, weary, feeling grey, sorrowful, grieving, in considerable emotional pain; unhappy, depressed, discouraged, dejected, melancholy; oppressed (or Elizabethan) in the doleful dumps .... &c&c I never used the word the way the Cunning Moronic Tweeter uses it -- to express disapproval, as a form of sneer, equivalent (in what passes for a mind) to bad. an index of his coarse mean outlook. But now I won't use it at all. A ruined word. How a person uses a word, what meaning he makes of it shows what he is. A friend wrote: I agree that it is a sad use of a venerable word...

A video:

Robert Reich's videos: why the Republicans want to destroy the Affordable Care Act:



Miss Drake

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