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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


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


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


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.


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

On the brink of disaster


This week I have three videos and two stories to share.

I begin with Kenneth Clarke's argument on behalf of his right to think for himself on behalf of his constituents.  I thought the most important passage and relevant directly to the US elections was where Clarke defended that members should follow their conscience, and not automatically obey what was the winning choice in a referendum. He parsed the mantra about the necessity absolutely to follow a vote:  following that logic he said he should each time the Tories lost an election, immediately vote for all labor measures. He described the absurdity of an up-or-down vote for the complex situation voters were asked to decide

He referred to his decades of experience in these areas. The situation in the US is the vote is the result of gerrymandering, and the decision the undemocratic electoral college re-skewing so millions of votes are nullified -- in the recent election we also had the interference from anothe country, and the FBI castigating Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server (a commonplace among politicians today, including Trump and republicans).

Every politician should vote according to the interest of the majority of the people. If he no longer gives his constituents his judgement and simply follows ilke an automaton (succumbs to bullying) he is not serving, he is betraying the people in his district. For decades the UK has been part of the EU and profited mightily from it. For a century the US has had a number of sound social programs and for a couple of centuries principles of freedom, assembly, protest in place. Why reverse them for the advantage of whom?

The first article is about the rump who have the power to remove Trump through impeachment but are not going to do this until they destroy every social program that redistributes any income in any way, from health care to social security, to schools, to public transportation. We have to remember that Trump could not get away with what he's doing with the Republicans in charge. They are there after years of gerrymandering, politicizing the courts.  They are enabling him. This is what the principle of voting your conscience is so important. Here is a good instance of their ruthless doings after 40 years of making the American republic undemocratic, rotten at the core links.

The Republicans in congress are no longer ashamed to force the District of Columbia to their will and against the desires of the people of that city and their local elected representatives end all attempts at helping the city's poor using the poor leftovers of the welfare program ended by the Clintons. It appeared in the Washington Post for February 4th, "The DC local gov't in a fight for its life," by Aaron D. Davis and Peter Jamison. DC has been commiting the mortal sin of trying to prevent people from starving to death. The Republicans can't stand this.

Of course Trump matters. He enabled this win. He thrives on a constituency that is narrow but potentially violent and is treated with credibility and certainly not criticized in media: that there was a possible massacre at Bowling Green was never admitted in mainstream newspapers: a white supremacist planned to kill African-Americans and Muslims. They represent the left-out, jobless, people without hope such that he can appearl to them; the core is miseducated and misinformed, and has for years been found outlets in racism, bigotry, sexism. What American culture in general admires he has been presented as on TV for years:: the ruthless businessman, utter selfishness. Taxation now seen as socialistic. This second article on Trump's character and the way he behaves appeared in the New York Times for January 29, 2017, "Up is Down: unreality show echoes a history of false claims," by David Barstow. Here you will learn how throughout his business career and TV "reality" show, Trump succeeded -- or floated along on money he made and inflated through lawsuits and cheating everyone he encountered, through not paying and manipulating the tax system, through mystifying himself by an image he created which deluded masses of people, and that the techniques he used outside the oval office he is now using far more openly and ruthlessly. He has now behind him such fearful firepower, law and offices, he figures he can punish anyone anywhere to the hilt who attempts to stop him. So much for the leader of this rump cabal -- remember half the American population voted, and of that half less than half voted for Trump.

As in previous weeks a few new thoughts:  Trump is not liar about all things. His anti-immigrant stance is not political expedience. He is deeply prejudiced against anyone not white and born in the US. He proposes to have surveillance of all immigrants for all the time they live in the US; if they go on welfare or do anything he doesn't like, green cards or no (permanent residence this used to be call) throw them out. Long time green card holders too. He talks of how those succeeding in business in the US (ie. making money) will be kept, but if their business ejected. He is deeply violent. The woman he put in charge of his renewal ofblack sites is known for cruelty in torturing. In a book Speaking about Torture, edd. Julie A Carlson and Elisabeth Weber it's demonstrated the purpose and work of torture is to "drive the victim 'beyond the borders of death into [a state of speechless] nothingness" Korea has nuclear bombs and says it can deliver them on California. California is a blue state so Trump may truly not care about. He is starting two wars and maybe really thinks he can steal Iran's oil from them. His tweets are spiteful, paranoid, if in doubt violence and punishments are the solutions. His I'll send in the feds on Chicago means I'll put martial law on that place. No respect for law means abusing his power over legal violence.  Protesters on inaugural day are charged with felonies and threatened with 10 years in prison. Trump uses the word nuclear over and over. Quite apart from killing us all he will ruin the earth and atmosphere, the sky, plant life, animals. He may believe that climate change is a hoax. He doesn't read anything. He shows ignorance in his executive orders, in his ordinary talk (he apparently did not know anything about Frederick Douglass including that he died in the last century), in important negotations: He has to ask an aide what are the provisions of the test ban treaty while he finds what has been done "stupid."  He does not want the congress to be a debating, advising body but obedient to him so 52 republicans in congress should simply ignore 48 -- go for the jugular, the "nuclear' option of stopping all filibuster. Govern by fiat; executive order.

Last one of Robert Reich's resistance reports:

Here is what he suggests you can try to do:

I have begun to phone, to email, have joined a group, I will boycott all stores that carry Trump merchandise, contribute to social media, to ACLU, Common Cause, Southern Poverty Law Center.  I'm going to try to find a sticker for my car. I'm going to vote for all the principles he lays out.

Miss Drake
Dear friends and readers,

This week I've but one essay to share,. but its excellence more than makes up for my not having another: Rebecca Solnit, London Review of Books, 19 January 2017, 3, 6-7: Penis Power

When Solnit tells of the nightmares, inability to sleep, and hideous memories Trump's stalking of Hillary Clinton on a TV stage on 9 October 2016, prompted in so many women, she spoke for me. I wake with this monster's image in my head; since he's been elected, he has chosen to disseminate photos of himself against a black background looking fierce, or in various official situations grim, mean, inexorably dense.

She then accurately describes the endless variations of misogyny which gave a man unfit to president of the US, and affect the fates of the world, the office.

I saw a great play today, August Wilson's Fences  (as a film with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis) which reminded me of how much living on without my husband is a kind of torture for me. She cannot leave him; she has given all she has to him; she cannot conceive of life without him. He is the heart through which her blood flows too:

Viola Davis as Rose

I imagine it was close to the original play: the only departure I've read is the ending. No one says what that was, but my guess is not the final total justification of Troy who behaves horribly on and off to his wife, his sons, everyone but his male peer friends. He takes out his anguish on destroying and bullying others. Wilson feels that's okay -- males who are put down are accorded tremendous compensations over everyone else. he is a deranged person -- as Frantz Fanon said, the colonized, the semi-enslaved into bleak servitude becomes mentally ill and wreaks his misery on others: Writing on Alienation and Liberty (another good essay linked in for you, gentle reader). No it was the final moment where first whatever he did was justified and he was made into a kind of God-man in the family by the wife he had betrayed and bullied, even as he was her only protection, source of income, of pride, security; and then (as in other movies and plays I've seen) from heaven we get a trumpet playing and light streaming down as if it were some baroque painting out of which his great spirit were shining. Both together almost ruined the experience for me. I have read that but one congressman in all congress doesn't have a narrow religious affiliation and go to some church; yet studies and statistics suggest some 30% of Americans if asked will say they have no religious affiliation, no religious sect identification and many of these will call themselves agnostic or (less often) atheist. 30% of Americans have no representation of their secular point of view in congress.

I need not detail once again all the destruction Trump has promised, and what he has done so far: free speech on the Net, truth, civil rights, rights of protest, health care, women's health care, federal gov't workers and agencies. The list is long and havoc-causing potentially already. Each day new cruelties and vindictiveness and sneering triumph over the vulnerable are recorded.

All day I feel under assault -- the continual menacing pictures of Trump. He deliberately puts him photos of him against a black background looking like some whirlwind ferocity, a grim or inexorable expression on his face. Then by the hour a new horror. Now the reporters who reported on his inauguration protests are accused of felony as the reporters who reported on the Dakota Access Pipeline.
I don't know if I can manage four years of this. I fear for the destruction of the gov't programs and services that make my life endurable. I'm especially frightened at the thought I'll lose my house. To me despite what I have said about it, giving words to how I surmise my upper middle class neighbor see and talk about my house, it is a sound comfortingly solid brick, two squares of a house. I am proud to live in it. When I look around me and see cleaning teams leaving other houses, just like mine, or mowing teams, contractors come to replace, improve, renovate, I am bewildered at my luck. I never expected to end in such a position and know it is precarious without Jim. The house holds my computer and its line to the outer world (an IT guy included), my books, which enable me to reach back to Jim and to do research, read for reviews, papers and teaching. I cannot conceive that I could know any comfort without it and them.

I am become unwell under this daily assault. so last one: how to #stayoutraged without losing your mind; for me this means having oneself torn to pieces. What is so striking is how the author says, without exception, every institution and belief, civil protection, good people hold is going to be attacked, and if possible destroy in its embodiment by Trump and many will go the wall, without exception. There's been nothing like this before in my lifetime in the US.

Miss Drake

A poem: There needs to be a time to weep

From Paradise Lost:

Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat
Sighing through all her Works gave signs of woe

A Lily (Carrington)

I saw Jim Jarmush's Paterson in the later afternoont. I felt recognition, and the hero bus-driver (brings home how rare such a "level" of job is given to a hero-protagonist), never went to college, but well read in American poetry on his desk a group of beloved books, includes Emily Dickinson), he writes poetry to himself all day long. So this has given me the courage to put on this blog the one revolving in my mind today:

There needs to be a time to weep
We have not set aside a time to cry
Everyone who understands what is happening
needs to have a time to mourn.

Americans are driven -- like cattle --
to hold onto the precious job
at whatever cost, no matter how badly treated they are
however corrupted the task -- bad food being profitable

A shameful event has taken place today
It was a long time in the making
much moral stupidity
much mean conniving
went into this: gerrymandering,
voter suppression, fake news,
stations called News shows -- propaganda

for a long time at first underground hidden
emerging explicitly afer 9//11
But today a new major step
The poison made plain,
he who shall not be named
dished out the poison

Circus performers (Carrington)

They dancing to it, pompous with wealth,
smirking, smug, lying before congress
they'd nullified the majority, erased us,
Is this how & why they won't be held unaccountable?
for the destruction they are about to wreak?


Look at them, the orange-haired Godfather
fatly regal with his acolytes around him,
Ryan so gladdened hands held together
under his belt, the other devils crowding in
as the great man signs away lives,
heaps money on banks -- real estate people first ...

Barrel bombs on middle eastern people
yes that has been going on for a long time
too.  Hitting hospitals, civilians deliberately
kill the population you are set on controlling
Bu now they can fire any federal worker at will

We are having to swallow this  nightmare, these lies
hatred spread, threats against anti-police atmosphere
must be put a stop to

I just felt all day that there has not been set aside
a time to weep, to cry, to mourn for the
death of a republic, half obsolete in rules
because it allows this to happen

Shameful, shameless, hollow spectacle
Empty trains all day, empty highways
Tomorrow they will be filled to overflowing
with massive protest

We need a time to weep
We have not allowed an interval for people to cry
to mourn .... not to despair, some decent
interval to acknowledge the shame
of who is now representing us

let us not be ashamed to admit
what now happens to us individually
it is through shaming us individually
paralyzing us, that's how they silence us

The anthropological fact of fascist values
pervasive, everywhere -- a sign for
a popular movie -- Infinite Warfare ...
"Look at her! who would rape her?" -- laughter

A time to grieve for the anguish of women

Norms prevent open acknowledgement
of grief, justified fear, harassment.
you end up hounded for money.

Earlier death
people will now die earlier
I won't be here to help a beloved near me
who needs me
or breathe the sweet air myself

And who would dare go to a hospital now?
Not I.


Among the first acts of the Trump administration was to remove the right of the National Park Service to tweet. I didn't know a president could forbid a whole agency to tweet. Why? they dared to reports the numbers of the crowd at his inauguration service as under 10,000. Small. It was an act of vindictive spite. I understand his New Year's Eve tweet of 2016 was a list of his enemies.

A coming act of spite, as the budget for such people is pathetically small: they will eliminate all funding for public TV which has spread across the US since its slow inception.  I remember when the first PBS type channel, WNET in NYC opened Channel 13 with Play of the Week. I was 13 and my father said, let's watch this play tonight. Each day all week (in the manner of Million Dollar Movie on Metromedia Channel 9), I saw an astonishingly good performance of a great play. Unusual. Judith Anderson as Medea, an Ibsen play, The Flying Duck, how I bonded with that man in the attic, a bitter melancholic Twelfth Night, the first and last time i've ever seen that play done right.  By the time I was 20, when I watched TV (I had stopped watching regularly around age 13-14), PBS was the main channel I watched. Nowadays except in rare forays to HBO, it's the only channel I watch on TV. I listen to NPR music on and off during the day. They can try for some billionaire philanthropist, but it will no longer be a people's channel. It will be the billionaire's. Sesame Street was sold off last year to HBO. Second rate children (they get it for "free") watch shows a year later. Inculcuting who belongs, who excluded now. An end of an era.

These trillion dollar cuts in health care -- including medicare for the elderly, allowing them to go to hospitals without bankrupting themselves, into near homelessness, hounded and harassed for bills -- and this will go into the pockets of the corporations and millionaires about to get huge tax breaks

Five decades -- since just before Reagan with the forming of organizations like ALEC: they took hold of courts, aimed at them, got passage of Citizens United -- huge amounts of money at the heart of the take over of the states: then they added the suppression of the vote through various techniques: from gerrymandering, to laws which prevent people from voting (voter IDs, mass incarceration robs huge numbers of people of the right to vote ever after -- and it's no coincidence they are mainly black), to simply ignoring the law (Congress is not supposed to prevent the nomination of a person to the supreme court, but advise and consent). The Republicans have discovered they can even get away with nullification: in North Caroline they stripped a man elected to governor who is a democrat of most of his powers to do any good. They are no longer afraid of the "many" (militarized police, egregious injustice it the courts, horrific prison conditions - large percentages of people in solitary confinement, proven a form of torture).
So yesterday what we saw was a major step in the destruction of the republic that we had -- it had evolved into something better than its original during the later 19th century and again during the FDR years (LJB added further helps). All this is about to be cancelled; but not just back to pre-FDR, the very foundations of the republic: voting, obedience to law, observance of the original bill of rights (much of it now gutted).
And of course as education has been one source of improvement in people's understandings and therefore their lives, that is in the middle of evisceration too. Get rid of public education in the lower levels, make the universities subject to corporations in the upper. All over the US humanities departments have been cut to nothing or eliminated (in effect), also science hurt.

Danger to the whole world increased a hundred fold: military, war, the destruction of local and wide environments directly to make profit, and in the long run climate change and losses of lands, populations. What do they care?  Remember Malthus: don't try to save people starving, that just makes more of them.

Boy on Concertina (Carrington) -- the learned guarded face

Miss Drake
I asked myself this morning what can I contribute in good memory of and to honor the tragically assassinated Martin Luther King, Jr. Then I read David Remnick's essay in the New Yorker: John Lewis, Trump and the Meaning of Legitimacy

It can bring tears to your eyes, make you think:  "I don't see how [President Johnson] can send troops to Africa, and he can't send troops to Selma, Alabama.  Last year I saw the great film, Selma, directed by Ava DuVernay, and was moved to write a blog-review praising it as strongly as I could. She has since made a film about the slow replacement of slavery for huge numbers of black men in the US through sharecropper-servitude backed by lynch law, to a brief couple of decades of civil and voting rights, from which the criminal injustice system establishment has moved to mass incarceration, the 13th (amendment).

So with all due respect to Remnick, I have to disagree with him when he writes that "Lewis remains nearly alone in his capacity to tell the story of race in America." There are thousands of black men and women, who have equal capacity to tell this story alive today in all age groups. Such a one is the African-American preacher-journalist, professor of sociology, author, Michael Eric Dyson, in his Tears We Cannot Stop, reviewed in the Washington Post by Carlos Losada: what is it like to drive through a street in the US aware that at any time you might be pulled over for a minor infraction of the law and end up killed ("We think of the police who kill us for no good reason as ISIS")? Ask the mothers and fathers and spouses  and children of all these dead black people. They can tell it like it is. I saw a foolishly "feel-good" film (all piety, triumph, it flattered the mostly white audience watching) about three black women who worked as scientific technologists for NASA today: Katherine Goble Johnson, Dorothy Vaugh, and Mary Jackson (Hidden Figures, as a film, it's beating Rogue One at the box office). Johnson is still with us, at age 97, finally awarded a Freedom Medal of Honor by President Obama: she could tell us a thing or two.

Remnick and so many others fall for this perpetual seeking for big people, for the hero (or heroine), for the "special genius" as a site of history. But we are all history, the person no one pays attention to, no stories in newspapers are written about offers the perspective which do not obscure the dominating effect of culture, circumstances, other people, contingency, other issues: gender, class, sexual orientation. Bernie Sanders does acknowledge like that.

Let us honor Martin Luther King today by imagining all these other people under this regime that is about to get much worse by trying to prevent it from getting much worse. Angus Wilson does this for one family in his Fences -- which I hope to get to this Thursday. The New York Times had a good interview about Wilson's drama: Jitney, an early play is on Broadway just now. As literary critic and woman writer, I also recommend Margaret Drabble in 1995 from a British perspective: Wilson as an enemy of false sentiment, self-delusion, dwelling on class. Anglo-Saxon attitudes can tell us much too: irreverent, iconoclastic, angry, very funny.

I'm going out on the March on the 21st: the day after the 20th when a man who thinks he can get away with being a dictator, will not be held accountable by law and the constitution once he takes power, remove the social programs set up by Roosevelt and since, give millionaires yet more huge tax breaks, what he pleases in foreign policy and war conducted by tweets (which defile anyone who protests). It's going to be the most massive demonstration we've seen in years. The people in charge of parking the buses estimate 180,000 people. Many many women's groups. It's estimated by my local JCC (Jewish Community Center) that 200,000 people will show, many organized from a group of JCCs around the East Coast, some of whom have had bomb threats since the election. Unions are coming. Be there if you can make it. Wear strong boots, a warm coat with hood, and carry plenty of water.

Enough from me for this week,

Miss Drake

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