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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


The Straight and Narrow

British politics went through the looking glass this week when the nation's major parties seemed to reverse moral polarities. While the left-wing Labour government promulgated new education standards "to teach children the importance of traditional marriage," a top Tory politician - a hard-right Thatcherite, no less - openly admitted his homosexual past, and was clasped to the party's bosom.

The new pro-marriage policy was yet another jerk of the nanny-state knee from Tony Blair's government, which has been thrown into a panicky snit by recent tabloid tattle about two preteen pregnancies. (For a nation that already has the highest teen pregnancy rate this side of the Ozarks, you'd think they'd be a bit more sanguine about the situation.)

With his Cabinet solidly behind him - that would be the Cabinet that includes several openly gay ministers and quite a few serial adulterers - Blair sent Education Minister David Blunkett out to tell the kiddies that the traditional mummy-daddy pairing is the best ticket to health, wealth and Third-Way heaven. (That would be the divorced David Blunkett who was raised, quite successfully, by a single mother.)

Meanwhile, Tory toff Michael Portillo - long-tipped to be the next party leader as soon as little bitty Billy Hague goes down in flames at the next election - made a surprise announcement: He had engaged in "homosexual activity" during his college days at Cambridge.

Portillo, long-married and now struttingly - not to say desperately - hetero, said he wanted to set the record, er, straight as he prepared a new campaign for Parliament after being summarily ousted by voters in 1997 (by an openly gay Labour candidate, as it happens). Perhaps best known for his crackdown on gays in the military during his tenure as defense minister under John Major - or else for his key votes against lowering the age of consent for gay sex, keeping "homosexual activity" between young people a crimina l offense - Portillo declared that all that sissy stuff was well behind him now.

Little bitty Billy, putting a brave, grudging smile on the unwanted brouhaha, embraced Portillo's "candor" (although he failed to remark on the George W. Bush-style hypocrisy of office holders sending other people to jail for the same "youthful indiscretions" they once enjoyed ), and said he hoped - really, he did - to see Macho Mike back in parliament by year's end. For his part, Portillo, a Thatcher loyalist who spent most of his Cabinet career trying to oust party leader Major, immediately declared his undying loyalty to the harassed Hague.

Obviously, at least one traditional value is still alive in British politics: Machiavellianism.

Millennium Bugs

Who would you rather have fronting your political party? An unabashed minority-bashing admirer of Hitler, or a tomcatting slumlord notorious for his unsavory business practices?

That's the choice confronting the strange conglomeration of electoral disgruntlement known as the Reform Party. With $12 million in federal campaign funds burning a hole in the party pocket, the one-time Ross Perot vanity vehicle is preparing to pick a standard bearer for the Y2K presidential race. And that tasty lump of federal sugar drew two big flies this week: Pat Buchanan and Donald Trump.

Bully-boy Buchanan, scowling scourge of the darker races and those "New York money boys" with funny-sounding names that tend to end in "stein," declared this week that he is "seriously considering" a bolt from the Republican Party to the greener pastures of the Reformists. The GOP has "gone soft," says hard-man Pat; it's now little more than a carbon copy of com-symp Clintonism. Pat obviously needs rawer meat for his fierce political chops; witness his printed paean to Hitler, "a man of great courage, a soldier's soldier, a leader steeped in the history of Europe." (Steeped in the blood of Europe anyway - but Pat's not one to quibble over little things like the Holocaust. In fact, he's even written earnest columns casting doubt on the historicity of that unfortunate episode.)

There is, however, a big, buff obstacle standing in Pat's way: the Reform Party's only elected official - Jesse "The Body" Ventura, the testosteronic governor of Minnesota. The ex-pro wrestler doesn't much cotton to Buchanan's brand of puritanical "social conservatism;" Jesse's been too fond of his tokes and his trixies over the years to hold with that kind of thing. He wants to play the Trump card instead - so his minions have been making eager overtures to the Eighties relic this week, The Associated Press reports.

"Everybody wants me to run for president," Trump said, displaying the humility born from a hard life of throwing poor people out into the street so he can build luxury skyscrapers and glitzy casinos that lose millions of dollars for the suckers who back him. "And I have a lot of respect for Jesse. When he asks me to look at something, I'm going to consider it."

Next up: John Gotti goes head-to-head with Pauly Shore for the Green Party nomination.

Well, would that be any worse?

Red Baron

It was a scene that would have warmed the ice-cold cockles of Lenin's mummified heart: one of the world's most rapacious capitalists sniveling and groveling at the feet of his Communist masters.

That was media baron Rupert Murdoch - publisher, papal knight, political pornographer - laying into the Dalai Lama, the hated enemy of Rupe's partners-in-profit, the Chinese government. In an interview with Vanity Fair last week, Murdoch called the Tibetan holy man "a very political old monk shuffling around in Gucci shoes," and defended the brutal Chinese occupation of Tibet.

"[Tibet] was a terrible old autocratic society out of the Middle Ages," Murdoch said, "an authoritarian, medieval society without any basic services." (Actually, that sounds remarkably like the Thatcher-Reagan ideal that Rupe himself has championed for so long, but anyway.) Murdoch also whitewashed China's appalling human rights record: The "average Chinese person" cares more about his "next bowl of rice" than democracy, he said.

Ah yes, that philosophical point where East meets West, Left meets Right, proletarian vanguard meets oligarchic elite: utter contempt for the common people.