Monday, March 13, 2017

If Hyman Roth Could See Us Now

I usually put up long posts, or at least a page. I'm breaking the record for short here. Just one, uncomplicated thought. I'm hoping it's a clarifying one.

How to understand Putin? And Trump? Look to the movies; look to Godfather II.

Hyman Roth: … Just one small step, looking for a man who wants to be President of the United States, and having the cash to make it possible. Michael, we're bigger than U.S. Steel. … What I am saying is, we have now what we have always needed, real partnership with the government.

Tell me how this is not the way Putin and Trump are thinking? “Public interest” and “public service” – what do these terms mean, to them? You can imagine the cynical smirk, the sideways look, the knowing “are you serious?” rejoinder. It could be Coppola, it could be Tarantino, but it sure isn't Billy Wilder.

A government is something to get hold of, something to manipulate, something to shake down, something to pervert. There is only one law, the law of the jungle, the Hobbesian world. People are scum to be exploited and manipulated, to be lied to.

If you think of the men in Hyman Roth's world, if they ran Russia, and if they were trying to run the United States, what we have now is exactly what they would be doing. Putin is reportedly now the richest man in the world. Trump's scorecard has only dollar signs on it, and perhaps applause and pussies, who knows. That's where we are now. Dystopia.

All we can do is to hope it's temporary, and work for that. It's going to be hard.

Yesterday we had a small get together with our neighbors. Our street is one block long, and since we sit right on top of the Hayward Fault, it's prudent for us to be organized in case of an earthquake. We had our drill, walking up the street, divided into three sectors, checking to see that everyone was OK, as though there had been an earthquake, hanging out a white towel at each house to signal all is OK. Then we repaired to Norman and Ellie's house for a short talk running through the basics again, and then the hors d'oeuvres and soup. It was a nice day so we were on their long sloping lawn in front of the house, sitting on some wooden chairs in a couple of circles, or wandering. Sitting next to me there was a lady with two kids who was new to the block, and as the conversation turned to the Gorsuch nomination and what could be done, law professor David Levine being in attendance – my dear next door neighbor – who comments regularly on local TV stations on court proceedings, he opined that there wasn't really much the Democrats can do because the Republican's have the votes. I opined, “Resist.” Do everything possible, make a show of it, bring the message. This young lady opined that the Democrats should show the Republicans what true good governmental behavior is, and treat Gorsuch as they wish Garland had been treated.

My response was, that reminds me of my mother and what I called her Boy Scout approach. What that leads to, I said, was losing. Far from getting the respect of the country, what you show yourself to be is gutless (dare I say “a pussy?”), and you'll never win. I suppose this young lady never played sports. What do you do when the other team is stronger? You still play your hearts out.

We are a courteous and good hearted neighborhood, so the conversation then turned to reputable contractors, electricians, and plumbers. I let it lie, obviously. But why I bring this up is, with sentiment like this young lady's, it's going to be a rough time countering these friends of Hyman Roth. She's not even bringing a knife to a gun fight, she's bringing cupcakes.

Budd Shenkin

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