Books postsSaturday March 12, 2016
Lena Horne by Arthur Laurents
“The core stars [at Gene Kelly's late 1940s parties] were Peter Lawford, Louis Jourdan, and Lena Horne. Lena was quiet, not wholly there; usually just sitting, sipping brandy near the piano where her husband, Lennie Hayton, doodled at the keyboard ... Although he was a musical director at Metro, his whole focus, professional and personal, was on Lena. He radically changed her career as a singer. It happened overnight, not in pictures—she was the wrong color for pictures—but at a downtown club called Slapsie Maxie on the night it opened. ...
”The voice deeper, the lyrics almost bitten and spat out, the eyes glittering, this was a new Lena. This Lena was angry sex. I gave the credit to Lennie because that was all I knew then ... [but] credit for turning the lady into a tiger doesn't matter; the angry sexuality was always there, uniquely hers, just growling while it waited to be let out of her cage.
“In the early Sixties, when we were so close, I asked her what was in her head when she came out on the elegant floor of the Waldorf in New York or the Fairmount in San Francisco. She bared her teeth in the smile those expensive audiences waited for. ”Fuck you,“ she said. ”That's what I think when I look at them. Fuck all of you.“
Mitch McConnell and 'Dark Money,' Part II
“One reflection of [the Koch brothers'] singular status was their relationship with the new majority leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell. Only a few months before assuming that position, McConnell had been an honored speaker at their June donor summit. There, he had thanked 'Charles and David' and added, 'I don't know where we would be without you.' Soon after he was sworn in, McConnell hired a new policy chief—a former lobbyist for Koch Industries. McConnell then went on to launch a stunning all-out war on the Environmental Protection Agency, urging governors across the country to refuse to comply with its new restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions.”
McConnell to Kochs: You complete me.
Mitch McConnell and 'Dark Money,' Part I
“The [James Madison Center for Free Speech]'s sole goal was to end all legal restrictions on money in politics. Its honorary chairman was Senator Mitch McConnell, a savvy and prodigious fund-raiser.
”Conservatives cast their opposition to campaign-finance restrictions as a principled defense of free speech, but McConnell, who was one of the cause's biggest champions, had occasionally revealed a more partisan motive. As a Republican running for office in Kentucky in the 1970s, when it was almost solidly Democratic, he once admitted 'a spending edge is the only thing that gives a Republican a chance to compete.' He had once opened a college class by writing on the blackboard the three ingredients that he felt were necessary to build a political party: 'Money, money, money.' In a Senate debate on proposed campaign-finance restrictions, McConnell reportedly told colleagues, 'If we stop this thing, we can control the institution for the next twenty years.'
Money, money, money.
The Kochs: Scapegoating the Other with the Kochs' Own Crimes
The following, another great case of right-wing projection, is from Bill McKibbon's review of Jane Mayer's book, “Dark Money,” which is all about how the Koch Brothers and Scaifes and other right-wing richie riches are undermining democracy:
Sometimes the hypocrisy ran so deep that it almost seemed like an inside joke. In 2009, Americans for Prosperity ran a TV ad attacking environmental laws featuring “a louche-looking young man, plucking away at a plate of canapés.” He identified himself as
Carlton, the wealthy eco-hypocrite. I inherited my money and attended fancy schools. I own three homes and five cars, but always talk with my rich friends about saving the planet. And I want Congress to spend billions on programs in the name of global warming.
As Mayer points out, it was David Koch, founder of AFP, who had inherited hundreds of millions, gone to Deerfield, owned four homes including an eighteen-room Park Avenue duplex, and drove a Ferrari.
Or check out the way a young Scaife graduated college. (Psst: It wasn't through hard work.)
The right keeps doing this: scapegoating the other with the right's own crimes. Cf. the Nazis. Which, yes, is how the Koch brothers fortune was made—via Nazi Germany.
Are you reading Mayer's book yet? Shouldn't you be?
The Permanent Campaign
I've been reading Jane Mayer's “Dark Money” over the past few weeks, but only in short bursts. Otherwise I think my head would explode with anger.
It's truly enraging. Since I was born in 1963, this country has gone through social progress but economic regress. We're all more equal now except for the wealthiest among us, who keep getting wealthier. And the reason for that, I would argue, is in the title of Mayer's book: the money that's been funneled into think tanks and universities and politician's pockets to push an anti-regulation, pro-libertarian agenda. All the bullshit political items that seem to come out of left (read: right) field, like privatizing Social Security? That's these guys.
“Dark Money” already feels like the most important book of the year, and I wish more people were reading it. In the meantime, another excerpt:
When Obama took office, the stock market was down nearly six thousand points, and unemployment was shooting up toward 7 percent. As the former senator Tom Daschle later recalled, “There was a growing sense of calamity.” Obama expected bipartisan support at a moment that seemed like an economic version of the September 11, 2001, crisis. He had proclaimed in his 2004 keynote address to the Democratic National Convention, “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America. There is the United States of America!” Or so he thought. Obama's billionaire opponents wasted no time indulging him in a honeymoon. Forty-eight hours after Obama was sworn in, Americans for Prosperity started attacking his first major piece of legislation, a massive $800 billion Keynesian-inspired boost in public spending and tax cuts meant to stimulate the economy, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. ...
What Obama was up against was a new form of permanent campaign. It was waged not by politicians but by people whose wealth gave them the ability to fund their own private field operations with which they could undermine the outcome of the election.
It's not the political campaign anymore, it's the aftermath. That's when the campaign truly starts—when the rest of us are back at our day jobs.