Tag Archives: Margaret Thatcher

On Social Security, Is the White House Possessed by Thatcher’s Ghost?

10 Apr
If she's laughing, be afraid.

If she’s laughing, be afraid.

This week one of the prime movers in late 20th Century geopolitics died. Margaret Thatcher’s deeply conservative, pro-corporation, anti-business, slash the safety net and cut the taxes approach to governance helped set the stage for the fiscal gambling and international financial meltdown from which we are still struggling to recover. Remember her effort to secure a poll tax–oh she was a madcap, our Maggie. With a legacy like that, you might think that smart politicians would steer clear of her policies.  The English Punk group, The Jam gave the world an all too accurate portrait of Thatcher with their song, Town Called Malice, which basically addresses the death of the middle class and economic oppression.  The architects of this oppression were Thatcher and Reagan.

Sadly, the President of the United States — a DEMOCRAT elected by a coalition of the poor, people of color, women, and other marginalized and oppressed people — seems intent on taking an unprecedented and disastrous budgetary step. In the latest mind-numbingly awful round of budget “negotiations” with Congress, the White House has made it clear that cutting Social Security is part of the package.

This makes no sense. Even St. Ronnie the Addled, Thatcher’s partner in crime in the 80s, famously noted that cutting Social Security did NOTHING to reduce the deficit. Worse, the proposed plan, tying benefits to a particular Consumer Price Index, is viciously regressive. Those who depend on Social Security — the elderly disproportionately from marginalized populations — have expenses that don’t fit with chained CPI. The bulk of their expenses are health care, which increases much faster, and non-discretionary spending. You know, like food. The White House proposal effectively shoves retirees into poverty even faster.

The President’s stated goal seems admirable: compromise. Like all his fiscal wrangling with the GOP, however, he seems to think that compromise starts with capitulation and goes downhill from there. By taking the first ever major blow to Social Security, a Democratic President is easing the country into the Teahadist dream world where the New Deal and Great Society are erased forever.  Looks like most Americans will need to get used to eating cat food.

It isn’t too late. Many Democrats in Congress oppose the President’s plan and have proposed much more sensible starting points for budget negotiations. Please contact your members of Congress and ask them to support these smarter plans. Then contact the White House and make it clear that putting Social Security on the chopping block is unacceptable. If that doesn’t work, we should start raising some money to hold an exorcism.

The Dowager Countess Goosenberry

24 Sep

The Dowager Countess Goosenberry

I first met the Dowager Countess Goosenberry in 1992 when she was visiting the States. At that point she was just the 12th Countess Goosenberry, for her husband, Alfred, was still alive.  I have been very fortunate to remain close friends with the Dowager Countess Goosenberry and she has given me permission to make public some of our very private conversations.  My thanks to the Dowager for her candor on issues ranging from governments around the world to her views on women’s rights and the rights of the LGBTQ community.  My additional thanks to my husband and my friend Brad for helping corral the Countess, for she was given to the drink during this particular interview.

When did you first become an ally to the LGBTQ community?

That moniker has become quite cumbersome, hasn’t it? Honestly, Michael, I’m not sure I ever met a gay until my dear son Tarquin introduced me to some of his friends.  My Tarquin is quite open-minded and obviously a member of the Labour party (as am I on certain occasions).  Might I add that he is quite the debonaire bachelor, ladies.  He can cook and sew, in fact he did my makeup for this interview  Yes he is quite a catch, my Tarquin.  I’m now in my eighth decade and the whole kerfuffle seems to me to be much ado about nothing. Back home in Shropshire the gays can make their partnerships official — but then we Brits have always been ahead of you Americans in regards to civil rights.   In fact,  my Tarquin said he actually went to a gay wedding and it was quite lovely. I don’t like to drop names, frankly I’m not a name dropper, but Tarquin went to Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi’s wedding. Tarquin designed Portia’s dress.  I just can’t figure out why some young woman hasn’t snapped up my dear Tarquin yet.  Might I just add, Michael, that we in Great Britain do not discriminate against gay boy scouts.

Countess, is it true that you are personal friends with the Queen and with other members of the Royal Family?

I don’t like to discuss with whom I keep company, but yes. Liz and I are old friends.  We used to play on lawns and landscaped gardens together. When my Tarquin was younger, Prince Edward once gave him a Woody.

I beg your pardon. What?

Oh yes. My Tarquin loved the Toy Story movies and Prince Edward was kind enough to give him the Woody figurine, it is not a doll mind you; it is a figurine.

Oh, I see. Countess, I know you live in Shropshire now, but have you any thoughts about our upcoming Presidential election?

Michael, you know I thought your Mr. W. Bush was just ghastly and it  seems to me that your country  wants more of Bush with that odious Mr. Romney.  I don’t mind telling you that we are not fond of Mr. Romney back home. His behavior in London was unforgivable, and his attitudes towards women are shockingly medieval. Although I do sometimes don a wimple–it can be very forgiving on the neck of a woman of my age. Before my Alfred died, he would have given Mr. Romney an earful. (Just between  you and me, my late Alfred did tend to lean toward the Labour Party. Made for some awkward drinks parties, I can assure you!)

Countess, I want to be respectful, but didn’t your late husband have an affair?

Yes, yes. It is true. My Alfred did have several dalliances, but then we did love each other to the very end. If you want the truth, I looked forward to my time alone. So many seasons, I would find myself hinting over the top of my ladies’ magazine, “did you see that pretty little so and so down in the village. I do believe she was eyeing you inappropriately.” Even after his tryst with Maggie Thatcher, we were still able to hold our marriage together.  You know they met at a leather bar?

I’m sorry, what? They met where?

Yes, at a leather bar. You see they both were buying new saddles for their respective horses.  I seem to recall the mention of some sort of stud fee, as well. Alfred told me all about it.  Apparently, Maggie has quite a grip and is much taller and more muscular than I remember.

Oh, I see. It seems an unlikely match.

Well, it was on the order of opposites attracting, really. I believe she also reminded him of a German nanny he had in the 30s… Ah well, it was brief and in the long run made our union stronger. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off for a Brazillian wax. We shall chat again soon!

The Dowager Countess departed before I could get her to clarify that statement. I look forward to sharing our next chat with you as soon as I can.

Women’s History: May 4

4 May

Not a fan of the poor.

May 4, 1979, Margaret Thatcher becomes Britain’s first woman Prime Minister.  Known as the “Iron Lady,” Thatcher was not a favorite of mine. It is always difficult for me to separate Ronal Reagan and our Maggie Thatcher.  What I chiefly remember as her legacy was the infamous poll tax. Yes, it was under Thatcher’s reign that she and the conservatives thought to tax people to vote–sounds like something John Boehner and Newt Gringrich would support.  What a lovely way of preventing poor people from voting. I keep remembering the line in Absolutely Fabulous, from June Whitfield about Thatcher as Prime Minister for 40 years: “…it was a very long time.”

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