Thelma and Louise and the Democrats

In the movie “Thelma and Louise,” a bullied Arkansas housewife and a harried waitress ditch their mundane lives for a road trip in their 1966 Thunderbird convertible. It doesn’t end well.

In fact, it doesn’t even start well. Thelma, played by Gina Davis, gets drunk and is sexually assaulted. Louise, played by Susan Sarandon, rescues her. But then the assaulter insults them, so Louise shoots and kills him.

Their road trip turns into a getaway. They figure they’ll escape to Mexico, but Louise won’t travel through Texas because she’d once been raped there. They loop north to Arizona by way of the Grand Canyon.

Along the way, they meet a thief, played by Brad Pitt, who teaches them his trade. They blow up a fuel tanker, knock over a convenience store, outrun the FBI and steal a hat.

But the cops eventually catch up, and they’re cornered in front of the Grand Canyon where they’re forced to surrender.

Except they don’t. Instead, they hop in the old Thunderbird, kiss one another goodbye and floor it. They and the Thunderbird fly over the cliff and into the Grand Canyon.

That’s the end of the movie, and the end of them.

In another story — call it “The Dems” — the junior political party in America launches an extended road trip for their soon-to-be-elected president. But as in “Thelma and Louise”, things go south quickly.

Their candidate gets insulted by a provocateur and five-time bankrupt real estate developer with orange hair who fails to grab her and so she fails to shoot him. But she does have fainting fits, gets drunk and (allegedly) goes on a crime spree that draws the attention of the FBI.

The candidate stays one step ahead of the cops, who aren’t actually chasing very hard, but eventually the voters catch up with her. She and the other Dems lose the election.

Along the way, they also lose most of the governorships, lose the state legislatures, lose Congress, lose the Supreme Court, lose 30,000 emails, lose influence and lose a bunch of influence-peddling speaking engagements.

Then they lose their cool. They take time out from their nonstop moral preening in the rearview mirror for a temper tantrum.

For years, these losers have been proclaiming that their opponents are on the “wrong side of history” in politics, which is like being on the wrong side of the road on a road trip. But now they’ve learned that both in history and on road trips, it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the part in front of you. And that makes them so mad.

That, and losing.

They demand a recount. They ask the Electoral College to go rogue. They blame it all on the Russians — after giving them a pass on their Crimean conquest and Syrian slaughter.

Some refuse to attend the inauguration. Some call on the newly elected president to resign and, if he doesn’t, imply that he should be impeached or worse.

Their ideas are like Thelma’s 1966 Thunderbird convertible: fun and eye-catching, but unsafe at any speed.

And they can’t find anyone to drive. They can’t find someone to chair the Democratic National Committee after the past two were caught cheating. The recent possibilities include a Louis Farrakhan follower whom even fellow Dems have labelled anti-Semitic, a Socialist from the last administration (and the last century) and the head of the biggest abortion operation in the country.

While Middle America celebrates their soaring 401(k) plans, the Dems boycott hearings to confirm the new president’s cabinet. They protest in the streets. They name-call everyone who disagrees with them.

They hang and burn the new president in effigy, call his immigrant wife a prostitute and mock their young son as autistic.

And they make good on their threats to leave the country. Oops, I got that part wrong. But one Dem state does fantasize about resurrecting the Confederacy by seceding from the Union.

They threaten to filibuster the new president’s nominee for the Supreme Court, thereby egging the Republicans into abolishing the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees (as the Dems themselves abolished it for district court and appellate court nominees) so that they forfeit the leverage they would have down the road in the next nomination.

Because their much-ballyhooed “arc of history” took an unexpected detour, they shout, cry and riot. And with a comic touch, they do so in the name of tolerance, maturity and intellectualism.

But as it sometimes does in the movies, and always does in the real world, reality eventually catches up to them.

Now the Dems are cornered at the edge of the cliff. They’re nearly out of gas — their ideas, power and lives are almost exhausted — but they still have just enough left to write an end to this story.

Depending on the ending they choose, they may also end themselves.

(Published Feb. 19, 2016 in The Aspen Times at http://www.aspentimes.com/opinion/beaton-thelma-and-louise-and-the-democrats/)

“Manpower Doesn’t Mean “Man Power”

Free speech is no longer free at our universities. If you say the wrong thing, your words will cost you.

Even if you say the right thing it’ll cost you plenty. At Princeton University, you pay tuition of $41,820 per year (well, this being academia, make that per two-thirds of a year) for the language police to ban you from words they deem sexist.

The ban applies to so-called hateful words and phrases like “layman,” “mankind” (which the censors deem not just politically incorrect but also oxymoronic), “man hours,” “workmanlike” and of course that most-hated word, “manpower.”

In addition, they’ve banned gender-specific pronouns. So you can’t say, for example, “Each person pays his tuition through the nose.” Do it, but don’t say it.

You can substitute “their” for “his.” So you can say, “Each person pays their tuition through the nose.” Grammatically speaking, this use of the plural pronoun “their” to reference one person is incorrect unless the person has a mouse in his/her/their pocket and the mouse is carrying its own $41,820, which it intends to pay through its own little nose. But let’s not let grammar, money or vermin stand in the way of social justice.

Where will this end? How far should we carry the emasculation of language for the emancipation of women?

In answering that question, Continue reading

President Obama’s Mixed Message On Race

“We have more work to do when more young black men languish in prison than attend colleges and universities across America.”

— Barack Obama, campaigning for president in 2007

As a member of the right, I voted against President Obama twice because for me he is too far left. But this column is not about right and left. It’s about right and wrong, and Obama’s mixed message to black America about that.

Back when Obama was elected eight years ago, I was pessimistic about his liberal presidency, but I was optimistic about race relations in America. We had journeyed far toward the dream. Electing a black president seemed like the final leg of that journey.

I thought, “What a man, and what a country. No one but Obama could have achieved this, and in no country but America.”

Obama was born to a white mother and raised by her and his white grandmother after his black Kenyan father abandoned them. He was raised not in a failing inner city, but in the prosperous melting pot of Hawaii. He attended prestige universities, including Harvard Law School. He married a beautiful and smart black woman, and they have two lovely daughters.

Surely, I thought, this complicated man with a foot in black America and a foot in white America could bridge the two.

And he did. But it was not by anything he said. It was by who he is. Everyone with open eyes could see that he is smart, articulate and accomplished, but moreover he is by all accounts a loyal husband and a devoted father. He’s a good man.

But politics are complicated and cruel. Continue reading

I”ll Pay Liberals To Fulfil Their Promises To Leave

What do Al Sharpton, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Jon Stewart, Lena Dunham, Miley Cyrus, Cher and Whoopi Goldberg have in common?

The first, Al Sharpton, is allegedly a minister. White House visitor records show he visited the White House over 80 times to minister to President Obama.

The reason you seldom see Obama in religious services is evidently the same reason you seldom see him in a Pizza Hut. He gets it delivered. From Al.

As ministers go, Al is unusual in that he has over $4 million in tax liens against him. It seems the offering plate he passes around at the White House stays pretty empty.

Anyway, Al announced last year that if Donald Trump were elected, he would leave the country.

But he’s still here. Continue reading

Begging for Christmas

My recent column, “Panhandling in Paradise,” (The Aspen Times, Aug. 7)described my panhandling experience here in Aspen. You can find it again at http://bit.ly/2aJ1BaB. Spoiler alert: Someone gave me a $100 bill.

But panhandling is not always paradise.

I recently panhandled for a day in the town where I grew up, Colorado Springs. Around the terrific Broadmoor Hotel, that town is moneyed and beautiful. But the rest of the town is a modest home to slices of Americana: three military bases, the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, religious groups like Focus on the Family and a prestigious private college.

Wealthy tourists who brought money to the town when I was a boy are now bringing their money to resorts like Aspen and Vail. Much of the old tourist strip is now run down or even boarded up while renovation plans simmer. Sometimes the potholes are so big that they have to close a street.

The town is home to lots of homeless people these days, and panhandlers are common. I knew I wouldn’t be the spectacle that I was in Aspen, where panhandling is not only unusual but illegal.

In the back of my BMW I found my cardboard sign reading “SURVIVED CANCER BUT LOST MY JOB” (which happens to be true, though a bit misleading). It had gotten a little clean in my trunk, so I dirtied it. Then I put on old jeans and a tattered shirt and set out.

I sincerely hoped that none of my childhood friends would recognize me, but, if they did, I hoped they would give me money. My mother, who still lives in town, probably shared the first hope if not the second.

This occupation is embarrassing at first. After an hour, however, you get over it and wonder why you’re not making more money. Unless you’ve been a beggar, you can’t imagine how people look while pretending not to see. I do it, and so do you.

Fishermen often quip that the fishing is good but the catching is lousy. Well, my panhandling was good but my moneymaking was lousy. I was getting skunked.

I wandered miles, all the way to the fancy private college filled with liberal kids using their rich parents’ money for the purpose of killing time before growing up. I said to a group of passing students, “Can you help me?”

They pretended not to hear. I moved to within a few feet of them. Holding my sign out, I repeated a little louder, “Excuse me, but I wonder if you might be able to help me.”

A young women turned and looked at me like I hadn’t survived cancer but was dying of leprosy. I took that as a “no.”

Back in the bad part of town, or perhaps I should say the allegedly bad part of town, I finally received a dollar from a young working-class stiff. He apologized that he didn’t have more to give me.

Rumor suggests that panhandling is a lucrative scam. Reports abound of panhandlers making real money. Stories are told of panhandlers who aren’t actually down and out but are up and in.

Maybe, but that wasn’t my experience that day. That day I concluded that no one would do this unless they were desperate.

I finally gave up and started back to my car. I crossed a broad boulevard with a median occupied by a panhandler, a real one. He wore a sign saying “LOST MY FINGERS.” Indeed, he had. Whatever scams proliferate in the panhandling business, it was plain that this man had no thumb or fingers on either hand.

I dug that dollar out of my pocket and “handed” it to him, if that’s the right word for giving something to a man with only paws. I pressed the dollar into the crease of his palm as he said, “Thank you, sir, and Merry Christmas.”

It was a windy day. I worried that the dollar would blow away before he could secure it. I worried that I should help him put the dollar into wherever he kept his money. I worried that I should give him more. I worried about what happened to his fingers.

But I was too weak, too cowardly and too absorbed with my worries to deal with this strong soul with the broken body. I looked away, and I walked away. I kept my eyes on the pavement until traffic safely divided us.

Now I wonder which of us was the crippled one.

(Published Dec. 25, 2016 in The Aspen Times at http://www.aspentimes.com/opinion/beaton-begging-for-christmas/)

Why Do We Own Guns?

I’m of two minds about guns. You might call one “Gunny Glenn” and the other “Gunless Glenn.” We talked through it the other day.

Gunless: “Tell me, Gunny, why do you own guns?”

Gunny: “They’re half yours.”

“No, the guns are all yours.”

“In that case, thanks for paying for half.”

“Don’t mention it. But they’re dangerous, you know.”

“So are the bathtubs and balconies, and we don’t even keep those things locked up.”

“Answer my question: Why do you own guns?”

“I might want to go hunting. I know you don’t understand that because you’re too moral to eat meat — unless it comes from animals born to be eaten.”

“Ha, you never hunt — you don’t even drink beer and you can’t bring Chablis on a hunting trip!”

“Maybe someday I’ll go to the shooting range.”

“Give me a break. We don’t like the noise at the shooting range. And don’t snarl at me like you’re Dirty Harry.”

“I need the guns to protect you, Gunless, because, as we know, you aren’t as physically strong as I am.”

“Oh, come on, Gunny. Do you expect us to leap out of bed in our birthday suits, run to the gun safe, unlock it, load a gun and shoot an intruder — all in the dark — in the 1.3 seconds we have before he neutralizes us? What are we, SEAL Team 6?”

“OK, Gunless. If you really want to know, here’s why I have guns. Continue reading

If You Can’t Stand the Heat, then go Back to the Kitchen

pouting-child-girl

A woman made history by being the first female to lose a presidential election.

Unconfirmed leaks reveal that her reaction to that honor was to drink alcohol, throw things, sob for hours, drink more alcohol and make herself so generally unpresentable that her aides had to postpone her concession speech until the following morning.

Apparently no one told her that you break the glass ceiling by climbing up there and pushing through, not by getting drunk and angry, sobbing on the floor and throwing lamps at it.

Apart from that particular woman, however, most women have come a long way since the days when they made a living in the kitchen catering to men.

Women are Continue reading