Tuesday, November 14, 2017

After Trump, A Bit of Poetry and a Mona Charen Column


The Next Administration (Hopefully)

After the present Republican administration is out of office, and both Houses of Congress are controlled by Democrats, it will be time to look back and survey the damage done to the country by its Trump-fueled adventure into right-wing conservatism.  That day will come, and the task before the nation will be a enormous one.

Ronald Reagan once quipped that the nine most terrifying words in our language were “I’m from the government and I am here to help.”  Ronald Reagan was wrong.  Dead wrong The help Americans receive from government programs such as Social Security, Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, the various “safety net” programs as well as the benefits Americans derive from the consumer protection work done by agencies overseeing health care, drugs, medicines, the financial marketplace, banking, working conditions, our environment,  the nation’s infrastructure, etc. is irreplaceable.

Reagan didn’t know what he was talking about.  Those who believe that way today do not either. 

The silliness preached by Ayn Rand in her novels (The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged) also stressed individualism and looked at government involvement as a curse.  Closely allied to her thoughts was the libertarian movement which was about freedom from government.  A lot of its malarkey has infused the Republican Party, whose wheels were greased by the enormous resources of people like the Koch brothers.  They view the cost of government as an intrusion into their wealth and hence, oppose it.  The line between libertarianism (freedom from government) and anarchy (no government) is a fuzzy one.

Americans love to imagine themselves as rugged individuals, able to deal with problems all by themselves (particularly if they are allowed to bear arms, as the Second Amendment permits them to), in the celluloid images of Ronald Reagan, John Wayne and of course, the Marlboro cigarette man, strong and silent, and probably doomed to die of lung cancer.  But that’s not true about real Americans.  The true Americans are hardworking, able to save just a little, and looking to the Government to protect them from the vicissitudes of an economy they cannot themselves control.  Democrats care for these people.  Republicans, who once did, no longer do.

So once back in control, the Democrats must rebuild the government which Trump and his Rasputin-like muse, Steve Bannon, have “deconstructed.”  That will take at least a decade to fully accomplish.   And the way Democrats must start doing that is at the local level, clawing their way back into governorships (N.J. and Virginia are good starts) and more importantly, into control of state legislatures, where congressional district lines are determined.  This will be a tough job, but believe it or not, it will be made easier by the bankruptcy of the Republican Party, which will become evident to more and more Americans.  The party which nominated and stands behind an incompetent, unqualified President will ultimately be deserted by its followers. 


And what will the Republican response to ideas like these be?  I suppose they will blame the ills perpetrated by the Trump administration and the Republican Congress on Barack Obama and that supposed she-devil, Hillary Clinton.  After their Trumpian episode, Republicans do not, and never again will, deserve to govern.  And the people will recognize this and bury them along with the other debris of political history.
Jack Lippman




Where the Flying Fishes Play


One of my favorite poems is Rudyard Kipling’s “Mandalay.”  It succeeds as poetry and it isn’t bad as a song either.  Many, including Sinatra, have sung it under the title of “On the Road to Mandalay.”  But not all six verses, which follow.   That’s a task.  It was written in 1890 back when the sun never set on the British Empire.   Here it is, in full, with some commentary by me (in red.)  I am available to read this in public if any organization is crazy enough to want to sponsor me.


Mandalay
Rudyard Kipling
1.
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin' eastward (To view the sea from Moulmein, fourth largest city in Burma, now Myanmar, on must look westward, not eastward!) to the sea,
There's a Burma girl a-settin', and I know she thinks o' me;
For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say:
"Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay!"
    Come you back to Mandalay,
    Where the old Flotilla lay:
    Can't you 'ear their paddles chunkin' from Rangoon (now known as Yangon) to Mandalay?
    On the road to Mandalay, (Mandalay was about 100 miles up the Irrawaddy River in Burma from Rangoon, which was on the sea, as was Moulmein.  The “road” referred to is not a paved road, but a term for the water off of a port, Mandalay in this case, where boats anchored.)
    Where the flyin'-fishes play,
    An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay! (China wasn’t across the Irrawaddy from Mandalay, but it was the general direction of what was known as Indo-China … Siam (Thailand), Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, etc.)


 2.
'Er petticoat was yaller an' 'er little cap was green,
An' 'er name was Supi-yaw-lat -- jes' the same as Theebaw's (Apparently a local politician at that time.) Queen,
An' I seed her first a-smokin' of a whackin' white cheroot, (a cigar?)
An' a-wastin' Christian kisses on an 'eathen idol's foot:
    Bloomin' idol made o'mud --
    Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd --
    Plucky lot she cared for idols when I kissed 'er where she stud!
    On the road to Mandalay . . .
    Where the flyin'-fishes play,
    An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!

3.
When the mist was on the rice-fields an' the sun was droppin' slow,
She'd git 'er little banjo an' she'd sing "Kulla-lo-lo!" (Can’t translate that.)
With 'er arm upon my shoulder an' 'er cheek agin' my cheek
We useter watch the steamers an' the hathis pilin' teak.
    Elephints a-pilin' teak  (Kipling bothers to define “hathis” for his audience.)
    In the sludgy, squdgy creek,
    Where the silence 'ung that 'eavy you was 'arf afraid to speak!
    On the road to Mandalay . . .
    Where the flyin'-fishes play,
    An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!

4.
But that's all shove be'ind me -- long ago an' fur away,
An' there ain't no 'busses runnin' from the Bank (Bank of England) to Mandalay;
An' I'm learnin' 'ere in London what the ten-year soldier tells:
"If you've 'eard the East a-callin', you won't never 'eed naught else."
    No! you won't 'eed nothin' else
    But them spicy garlic smells,
    An' the sunshine an' the palm-trees an' the tinkly temple-bells;
    On the road to Mandalay . . .
    Where the flyin'-fishes play,
    An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!

5.
I am sick o' wastin' leather on these gritty pavin'-stones,
An' the blasted Henglish drizzle wakes the fever in my bones;
Tho' I walks with fifty 'ousemaids outer Chelsea to the Strand,
An' they talks a lot o' lovin', but wot do they understand?
    Beefy face an' grubby 'and --
    Law! wot do they understand?
    I've a neater, sweeter maiden (Even though she smokes cigars) in a cleaner, greener land!
    On the road to Mandalay . . .
    Where the flyin'-fishes play,
    An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!

6.
Ship me somewheres east of Suez, (Bet he wouldn’t say that today.) where the best is like the worst,
Where there aren't no Ten Commandments an' a man can raise a thirst;
For the temple-bells are callin', an' it's there that I would be --

Moulmein Pagoda as it appears today

By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea;
    On the road to Mandalay,
    Where the old Flotilla lay,
    With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay! (Malaria, dysentery, etc. killed more troops than an enemy did in those days.)
    On the road to Mandalay,
    Where the flyin'-fishes play,

    An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!
JL



The Party of Louts and Dunces

I suspect that many of the followers of this blog also read "liberal" columnists in the newspapers, but pass over those coming from the right.  An exception is conservative columnist Mona Charen, with whom I usually disagree, but lately she has demonstrated a degree of intelligence unusual for a conservative these days.  You must read her recent syndicated column about the party of Louts and Dunces, and friends, she ain't talking about Democrats.  Check it out by CLICKING RIGHT HERE.  It ties in nicely with the lead piece on this posting where I hint at defections from the G.O.P. benefiting the Democrats.
JL



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