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Thursday, March 31, 2016

The roots of Frances Lear's outspoken leftism

I was talking to a woman recently who reminded me of the title character Maude, from the 1972-1978 TV series. Bea Arthur starred as the imperious, outspoken liberal woman who rubbed lots of people the wrong way. The character was supposed to have been based on Frances Lear, the wife of Norman Lear, the producer of the show.

Most of you will be too young to remember, but for a while, Maude was the archetype of a certain kind of woman many loved to hate.

Out of idle curiosity, I Googled "Frances Lear" and found this surprisingly honest obituary of her in the NY Times, from 10/1/96. (My comments not in italics):

Frances Lear, a mercurial figure in the media world who spent some $25 million she received in a divorce settlement to start a magazine named after herself, died yesterday at her home in Manhattan. She was 73...

Ms. Lear was married for 28 years to Norman Lear, the highly successful television producer of series like ''All in the Family'' and ''Maude.'' Her divorce settlement from Mr. Lear, an amount variously estimated to be between $100 million and $112 million, was one of the largest ever recorded. ''I was very much a part of his thinking,'' she often said, justifying the amount of the settlement. ''Norman could not have done his shows without me.''

(That may have been true of "Maude," in a negative sort of way, but seems highly doubtful in the case of "All in the Family.")

It is generally considered -- and she herself claimed -- that she was the inspiration for Maude, the feisty and opinionated title character played by Bea Arthur.

(A little surprising she would admit to that.)

Ms. Lear made a name for herself among feminists, working in political campaigns, including Eugene McCarthy's Presidential campaign in 1968; with the National Organization for Women on behalf of the Equal Rights Amendment, which was not ratified; as a partner in an executive search firm specializing in placing women, and as a writer, producing articles for a number of national publications. But she believed that she had faded into the background as her husband's career took off in the 1970's. After Mr. Lear acquired his own movie studio and founded his own civil liberties group, People for the American Way, she discussed her frustrations in an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times in 1981.

A woman in Hollywood is a nonperson, she wrote, ''unless she is under 21, powerful or a star.'' She noted, too, that an industry wife was looked through, never at. In a later interview, recalling her years as a Hollywood wife, she said she had felt constantly ignored and undervalued, had had little self-esteem and had often been depressed.

(This seems a somewhat hollow complaint: a man in Hollywood is a nonperson unless he is powerful or a star as well.)

Ms. Lear, in her own words, ''always aspired to something out of the ordinary,'' and she moved to New York after her divorce in 1985. She quickly set out to change the nonperson identity she had felt in Hollywood by creating Lear's, a magazine aimed at women like herself -- ''the woman who wasn't born yesterday,'' as the magazine said on its cover.

Lear's began publication in 1988 and was a success. It began with a circulation base of 250,000 and grew to 350,000 in a year. But after two years, Ms. Lear abandoned her original concept and lowered the age of the theoretical Lear's woman to over 35. Abandoning the older-age niche put the magazine into competition with other women's magazines, and its advertising never recovered from the move.

Almost immediately after the magazine's debut, Ms. Lear developed a reputation for being unpredictable and hot-tempered. She held a series of intimate lunches in her apartment during which she sought, and then usually ignored, advice for her fledgling publication. She also frequently brought up more of her personal history than most of her guests were prepared for, revealing that she had a Dickensian childhood, that doctors had determined that she was manic-depressive and had prescribed lithium for her condition, that she was an alcoholic and that she had made several suicide attempts over the years.

(Who knew that Maude was manic-depressive as well as alcoholic? The narcissism, as demonstrated by her talking about herself inappropriately, is no surprise, though.)

There ensued a revolving door of editors and writers, many of whom complained of Ms. Lear's inexperience and capricious decisions. Numerous articles were accepted and not published, and layouts were changed at the last minute. In an article in The New York Times, a staff member recalled that when Ms. Lear had been told that she could not change a quotation, she had shouted, ''It is my magazine, and I will do what I want...''

(Such a revolving door always seems to revolve around a difficult personality. And shouting at subordinates who gently remonstrate also reeks of narcissism.)

Although circulation was more than 500,000 in its final months, Lear's ceased publication in March 1994. It had lost an estimated $25 million to $30 million in its six years of operation...

Ms. Lear was born on July 14, 1923, at the Vanderheusen Home for Wayward Girls in Hudson, N.Y., the child of an unwed mother and an unknown father. ''The odds were stacked high against me,'' she once said. She was given the name Evelyn, but she was renamed Frances when she was adopted after 14 months in an orphanage by Aline and Herbert Loeb of Larchmont, N.Y.

(Not having a bond with a nurturing figure for the first fourteen months of life does mean the "odds are stacked high" against any sort of good character later on.)

''Aline was outwardly affectionate with me for my father's sake, but she did not like me,'' Ms. Lear wrote in ''The Second Seduction,'' (Alfred A. Knopf, 1992) an autobiography that pulled no punches. The slim volume laid out in harrowing detail her personal history and most intimate experiences.

(And then, to be brought up by a stepmother who doesn't even like you -- let alone love you -- is more or less a guarantee of a narcissistic personality, and maybe even sociopathy.)

The memoir related her years of sexual abuse, beginning at age 12, by the man whom her adoptive mother married after Mr. Loeb committed suicide during the Depression. She told, too, of being sent to a psychiatrist, to whom she revealed her stepfather's abuse, and of the psychiatrist's betrayal in repeating her confidences to her mother and stepfather. Her stepfather, she wrote, ''met me at the door with a kitchen knife in his hand.'' Her mother ''turned and left the room, went into her bedroom, closed the door and protected her economic hide.'' On her mother's death, her stepfather was left 90 percent of the $100,000 remaining from Mr. Loeb's insurance, Ms. Lear said.

(That sexual abuse was pretty much the final nail in the coffin of her mental health; and it's obvious from her words that she hated her stepmother as well.)

Ms. Lear attended the Mary A. Burnham School for Girls in Northampton, Mass. In the 1940's and early 50's, she held a number of jobs, primarily in advertising and retailing in New York. She was, she never hesitated to say, dismissed from most of them for behavior like listening in on the boss's telephone conversations and drinking through lunch….

Ms. Lear had two short-lived marriages before she met Mr. Lear. Her first marriage, to Arnold Weiss, a traffic manager at the Navy Yard in Charleston, S.C., lasted less than two years. Her second marriage, to Morton Kaufman (''or Kauffman or Kaufmann -- I cannot remember how to spell my second husband's name,'' she wrote in the autobiography), was dissolved within a year. She said that he had been unfaithful, leading to her first suicide attempt and three weeks in the psychiatric ward at Bellevue Hospital.

(Multiple short term marriages are usually an indication that something is amiss. Pretending not to know how to spell your second husband's name seems like an affectation.)

''I tried to commit suicide three times seriously and three times with minimal interest in the outcome,'' she once said.

Lear is yet another social justice warrior whose politics are basically just an expression of her personal issues. Lear obviously bears no blame for the unfortunate circumstances of her childhood. But, once someone is scarred like that, they inevitably make others suffer for it.

In some ways Lear is a more extreme version of Susan Sarandon, whom I wrote about three posts ago. The dysfunctional family, the resulting personal issues, and the later outspokenness on social issues, are all of a piece. And it's always an aha moment when you find out where it all originated from.

There are people who arrive at stances on both sides of the political fence for a variety of reasons. But what distinguishes the SJW's like Sarandon and Lear is their outspokenness, which is often just a bid for attention in disguise. (Female suicide "attempts" are likewise often characterized as "cries for help.")

In any case, a disproportionate number of those "outspoken" bids for attention seem to emanate from the Left.

After reading that obituary, it's a little easier to understand "Maude." Unloved, molested as a child, bipolar, alcoholic, with low self-esteem, and hating her parents. Lear undoubtedly hated her stepfather more than her adoptive mother, since he molested her, but also hated the fact that her mother was dependent on her stepfather financially. This led her in the direction of feminism, which substitutes a vague resentment of all men for hatred of one.

Voila, another maladjusted leftist.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Susan Sarandon explains the origins of her political philosophy

In a NY Times article today titled On Purposeful Paths (the online version has a different headline), actress and activist Susan Sarandon explained the origins of her political stances:

"My parents had no idea what parenting was. I’m the oldest of nine kids. My mother was raised in foster care in an orphanage. And my dad’s father died when he was young, and his mother was crazy. So these two met and, thanks to Catholic indoctrination on birth control, started having all these kids. Everyone did where I grew up. And I had to take care of them."

Okay, she didn't say that in response to a question about politics, but to a more general question about her parents. But… does go a long way to explaining her various stances.

I've said many times on this blog that the most interesting thing about a serial killer is finding out what his upbringing was like, because that usually explains how he became the monster he was.

Whether we want to admit it or not, we are our parents. For better or worse -- usually better and worse -- we reflect their temperaments, their attitudes, their interests, their physicality, their intellect, and their character. 

Reading Sarandon's description of the dysfunctionality on both sides of her family was a real aha moment. Sarandon evidently didn't get much nurturing from her mother, and it sounds as if she didn't get much more support from her father. So she's been resentful against the Catholics and everything they represent ever since. Hence, her political stances.

The whole situation reminds me a little of Madonna, who came from a similar background, and who has also spent the rest of her life being as blasphemous as possible.

But even though both women took opposite political and social views from their parents, they did so while somehow managing to hang onto their parents' character. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Excellent description of a sociopath

A commenter wrote such a good description of a sociopath after the previous post that it deserves a post of its own: 

My mother was, very probably, a sociopath. She, like most sociopaths, never (so far as I know) ever killed anyone, but she ruined the lives of everyone in her family and several of her co-workers in a 35 year corporate career.

Of her three children, I am the only one without a felony record, and admittedly that is because I just never got caught more than once. My father finally divorced her at 58, but he was a wreck and died four years later. Her own mother refused to see her for the last fifteen years of her life, and had specific instructions that she was not allowed at the funeral in her will.

In a concocted "sexual harassment" case in the early nineties, Mother got a large six figure settlement from the company. Later, her former boss said that it was the best money the company ever paid because it was the only way to get rid of her. She had had several good workers fired over the years by skillfully implicating them in her own embezzlements, diversions of business and corporate espionage.

She also had engaged in sexual relations with several of her company's key personnel on a quid pro quo basis. The full extent of her destructive, deviant behavior will probably never be known.

But the most confusing part of the entire story, for most people, is that people outside her family and co-workers all thought she was the sweetest, kindest, most wonderful woman they had ever known. Even in her final few months, in assisted care, she managed to have her caretakers think she was an exceptionally wonderful old lady.

Looking back, the company should have figured where such smoke erupted time after time there had to be a smoldering fire and separated her from their employment. And my father should have dumped her twenty years before he did. But none of them had ever heard of sociopathy or if they had associated it soley with murderers and the like. The problem is that even though she never killed anyone, she did so much damage to so many people that a simple murderer could hardly have been worse.

I replied:

There's no question your mother was a sociopath. As you say, most sociopaths never kill anyone, though they are, psychologically speaking, really not that different from serial killers, in that they put the value of other peoples' lives at zero. A lot of sociopaths go into business and leave a trail of destruction in their wake which only becomes apparent to coworkers after its pattern becomes too obvious to ignore.

False rape charges and false sexual harassment charges, like hoaxed hate crimes, DO occur, and when they do, they're almost always concocted by sociopaths, as those are the only kind of people who would lie so blithely in order to ruin others' lives. And screwing your way up the company ladder -- which is what it sounds like you're saying your mother did -- is another time tested sociopathic technique for advancement.

The fact that she was able to convince people who did not know her well that she was an incredibly nice, sweet woman is actually not out of character at all. That's another sociopathic specialty: making a wonderful first impression. Sociopaths are forever putting on false emotional fronts, and are consummate actors. Convincing people that you're something you're not is another sociopathic hallmark.

You also captured the way sociopaths get away with their shenanigans perfectly: because others are unfamiliar with sociopathy, so don't recognize the behavior for what it is. If all those other people had been wise to her types of tricks, she would never have gotten away with them.

The anonymous commenter captured a few things most people don't realize about sociopaths perfectly:

Even though she didn't murder, she did manage to bring a large amount of harm to numerous peoples' lives. 

False sexual harassment charges, just like false rape charges and hate crimes hoaxes, work because they are so unfathomably despicable to most people that they don't even suspect their falsity, at least at first. 

In a similar vein, all of her victims were naive about sociopathy before they met her, which is how she got away with it. 

This is why the world needs to be educated more about these monsters.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Melissa Ann Shepard

A Canadian serial killer, Melissa Ann Shepard, was just released from prison this past Wednesday. Evidently she's served her sentence, and is free only on the condition that she not go on the internet and not have access to "medicine" (read: tranquilizers). It's not right to keep someone in prison beyond their term; but letting a serial killer loose is never a good idea.

According to the Daily Mail article:

Between 1977 and 1990 Shepard was convicted of more than 30 instances of fraud, but she didn't start earning her nickname until 1992.

That's when she drugged her second husband, Gordon Stewart, and ran him over twice with a car.

She claimed in her defense that he was trying to rape her and was convicted of manslaughter and imprisoned for six years, although she was released after only two.

In a video interview from 1995 she described herself as a 'battered wife' and claimed that her husband had done jail time for beating her up, but that this was not admitted as evidence in her court trial.

In 2001, at the age of 65, she married her third husband, Robert Friedrich, 83, whom she had met on a Christian dating site. She moved to Florida to be with him.

He died 14 months later, leaving her thousands of dollars. His children claimed that she had poisoned him and won back $15,000 from her in a civil trial, but she was never charged with any crime.

Three years later Alex Strategos, then 73, started dating Shepard after meeting her online. 'At first, I thought she seemed very nice,' Strategos told the BBC, describing her as a 'very classy lady.'

Shepard moved down to his home in Florida to be with him, and over the one month that she stayed there he found himself hospitalized multiple times.

His son suspected foul play after doctors found the tranquilizer benzodiazepine in his blood and notified the police. Strategos now says he believes she was dosing the ice cream that she gave him most nights.

Police couldn't connect Shepard to the drug, but around $18,000 was found missing from Strategos's bank account and she ultimately found herself sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to seven charges including forgery and theft.

Shepard was deported and moved to Nova Scotia where, in 2013, she knocked on the door of her neighbor, 75-year-old Fred Weeks, and told him she was lonely and she'd heard he was lonely too.

Weeks, who had lost his wife 18 months before, quickly 'married' Shepard in an unofficial ceremony and the two headed off to Newfoundland for their honeymoon,

However, Shepard had started spiking Weeks with heavy doses of sedatives, and he found himself unable to drive properly.

'She’s too smooth of an actor, Weeks told The Globe and Mail. 'She kept me in the dark for a long time, telling me her stories. Everything was a story. Everything was a lie that she told me.'

The next day he was restricted to a wheelchair, could not put his shoes on and had forgotten where his car keys were, but it wasn't until he was hospitalized after falling that drugs were found in his blood and police became involved.

Shepard was initially charged with attempted murder, but was ultimately convicted on the lesser charge of 'administering a noxious substance,' netting her two years, nine months and ten days in prison. She was denied early parole due to risk of committing another crime.

And now she has been released, despite police saying that she is 'a high risk to reoffend.'

'I don't think she should be released,' Alex Strategos told the BBC. 'I don't know what the judge had in his mind.

'What she was, she still is - she's the Black Widow. Some guys better watch out, that's all I can say.'

Like most female serial killers, Shepard killed not for sexual gratification, but for financial gain.

The most amusing part of the story -- in a gallows humor sort of way -- is not mentioned by the Daily Mail, but is described in Shepard's Wikipedia entry:

Following her release [in 1995], she toured the country, giving speeches on battered woman syndrome and killing in self defense. She received a government grant to help others. During her tenure as a speaker, she sued journalist Barb McKenna of The Guardian for writing an article in which she doubted Friedrich's claims.

(Sisterhood is powerful!)

There's something quintessentially sociopathic about a serial killer who tours the country posing as a battered woman, basking in others' sympathy for her, and accepts a government grant for pretending to have the noble motivation of wanting to educate others about the scourge of violent husbands.

There's also something quintessentially sociopathic about suing a journalist who tells the truth.

If someone has been convicted of fraud 30 times, that's really all you need to know: she is a sociopath. In fact, sociopaths are frauds, period. And once you know that, everything else falls into place. Shepard undoubtedly told all of the men she was involved with that she loved them with the same ease with which she lied about everything else.

What struck me about Shepard's picture is that she looks as if she's had a couple of drinks. But it's doubtful she had; the picture looks as if it was taken in prison. The slightly inebriated look reflects a relaxed, uninhibited state that is the sociopath's normal way of being.

Of course, I probably wouldn't have noticed that if I hadn't known who she was. My danger radar generally just switches off when I see an old lady; but sociopaths come in all shapes, sizes, genders, races, and ages.

Note also the thin lips, which I keep seeing on Caucasian serial killers. Some of the other pictures in the Daily Mail article show fuller lips, which may be a function of her age, but is more likely a function of her lipstick:

Shepard has evidently changed her appearance so many times that she must now inform the police if she does so again:

It would be near impossible to recognize the woman in the above photo from the previous one. Note the smile which doesn't quite extend to her eyes; her eyes look as if she is sizing you up.

Authorities really ought to charge Shepard with murder in the case of her second husband, Robert Friedrich.

In the meantime, it's doubtful that at age 80, with law enforcement keeping a close watch on her, Shepard will have the opportunity to do the kind of damage she has in the past. But it won't be from lack of trying.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Tough guys in politics

There's been a lot of publicity recently over whether Donald Trump has encouraged violence at his rallies. My take is that the violence is mostly due to the demonstrators who have come to disrupt his rallies.

But Trump has said a few things that could be construed, on the surface, as encouraging violence:

On February 22, he said of a protester, "I'd like to punch him in the face."

On March 9, Trump said of some disruptive protesters, "See, in the good old days this didn't used to happen, because they used to treat them very rough. We've become very weak."

These words are unbecoming a Presidential candidate, but it's highly unlikely Trump actually wants violence. He knows that his crowds are fed up with the disruptive protesters and is, to a certain extent, playing to his base. But more than anything else, Trump was trying to appear to be tough himself.

Think of what he said: "In the good old days…" as if he used to be some sort of street fighter himself. You know, two-fisted Donald, who used to terrorize Queens and Brooklyn with his gang of thugs, beating the crap out of rival gangs.

The fact is, Trump is a rich man's son who parlayed his father's real estate empire into a much larger one. How many billionaires do you know of who are willing to risk losing teeth, or even an eye, in a brawl?

What the Donald suffers from is a disease that afflicts mostly upper middle class boys: the compulsion to pose as a tough guy -- because they're not.

The Bushes suffered from this affliction as well. Remember George W. Bush's famous "Bring 'em on," his challenge to any Iraqis who might want to attack US forces in that country? It was basically a schoolyard challenge by someone who wanted to appear macho. Bush didn't really want more American boys to die in war. He was just trying to appear manly (and possibly appeal to military pride as well).

Bush, who'd gone to Andover and Yale and was the son of a President and grandson of a Connecticut Senator, used to parade around in cowboy boots, as if he'd grown up busting broncos and stomping rattlesnakes to death. Even when he was dressed in a suit and tie, he would walk with his arms carried wide, as if they were too muscular to hang straight down.

Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, also an alum of Andover and Yale, famously said to a group of longshoremen after his Vice Presidential debate with Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, "We did kick a little ass last night." This was an awkward attempt by the patrician H.W. to relate to a group he was uncomfortable with, and the comment backfired.

President Obama said, while campaigning in 2008, that "if they [the Republicans] bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun." (Evidently that's the way they took care of things at Punahou.) Obama's statement could easily have been interpreted as promoting violence. And the case can be made that his words were more reprehensible than Trump's, given Obama's antipathy to guns.

But any honest analysis of Obama's intent would have to conclude that he was merely trying to appear tough. (Given that Obama is gay, he may have even more to prove.) Obama was also shamelessly plagiarizing The Untouchables, but that's really all he was guilty of there.

None of these men are -- or were -- genuine tough guys. If they had been, they wouldn't have felt the need to pose as one. But the point is, neither were any of them seriously trying to promote violence.

Update, next day: An anonymous commenter just pointed out that George H.W. Bush was a war hero, and that I shouldn't have included him in this post. He's right; I was wrong to group him in with the others. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Trump as bully

Steve Sailer nailed it, as usual, in his post this morning. While writing about how Trump is remapping the political dividing lines, he said:

{Speaking] as a laidback Southern Californian, Trump reminds me of the late George Steinbrenner, the extremely obstreperous owner of the New York Yankees, whom my Los Angeles Dodgers battled in the 1977, 1978, and 1981 World Series.

That's the best comparison I've heard yet. Steinbrenner made his fortune in shipping, a business requiring elbows as sharp as NYC real estate does. He owned the New York Yankees from 1973 until his death in 2010, and during his prime was a man many loved to hate.

Steinbrenner was known for regularly mocking his own players. He famously said about his star Dave Winfield, "Where is Reggie Jackson? We need a Mr. October or a Mr. September. Winfield is Mr. May." 

(Of course, while Jackson was a Yankee, Steinbrenner feuded with him as well.)

Steinbrenner hired and fired his hapless, alcoholic manager Bill Martin five separate times. 

So, as with Trump, feuds were a constant theme in his life.

Meanwhile, a friend sent this clip from Trump's guest appearance on Jimmy Kimmel's show. At the beginning, Trump is asked about a recent headline about New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. 

Trump replies, "Well I tell you what, I guess he had a news conference, he's a very good friend of mine, he's a great guy, by the way this is a great guy, and a winner, a champion, fantastic. Now if I were in New England and said that, the place would go crazy, here not so much, they're tired of getting beaten. But no, Tom's a great guy, and I guess there was something where everybody was saying what about Donald Trump, what about Donald Trump, what about this, what about that, and they had to end the news conference. But I want to tell you, Tom Brady is a winner." 

This is typical Trump. He said that Brady was "a great guy" three times, and also that he was "a winner" twice and "a champion" once. It's hard escape the impression that Trump feels that Brady is a great guy because he is a winner (and also a friend of Trump's). 

I knew guys like Trump on Wall Street. All of their friendships were essentially business relationships, built on mutual benefit, usually in a fairly transparent way. If one person ranked below the other in the business hierarchy, he was expected to act correspondingly obsequious. Strangely, both parties would seem to be perfectly comfortable with this. The guys who were used to being kowtowed to would get angry if people did not do so. 

With Trump and Brady, there is no business relationship, merely a mutual stroking of egos, and the opportunity to name drop. Brady probably enjoys the cachet that being associated with a Presidential candidate brings, and Trump enjoys being buddies with a glamorous athletic icon.

But you can't help but get the feeling that if Brady's career goes up in smoke, and he's no longer quite such a "winner," the "friendship" might suffer. 

Sometimes, it take an ill-mannered guy to tell an ugly truth about, for instance, whether importing a million Muslims is a good idea. Trump is that guy. I'm going to vote for him because he's more honest than the other politicians, and none of our problems will ever be solved as long as everybody feels obliged to lie about them. 

But I'm going to hold my nose when I do, the same as I would if I were voting for George Steinbrenner. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

George Kennedy

It was announced today that actor George Kennedy died on Sunday morning:

Kennedy was probably most famous for his role in Cool Hand Luke, where he played a prisoner who at first bullied and then befriended the title character played by Paul Newman in 1967. He later appeared in the Airport series in the 70's, and then in the Naked Gun movies in the 80's and 90's.

I had forgotten about Kennedy, but upon seeing him again, I was struck by how much he looked like some of the forensic artists' recreations of Neanderthal man:

Kennedy had the same brow ridge, the prominent nose, and the somewhat receding chin. Plus he was a big, strong guy:

He wasn't jacked by the standards of today's stars, but remember, he came of age in an era when real men didn't work out, and steroids didn't exist.

Kennedy was often cast as a bully -- he certainly looked like one -- but he was reportedly a nice guy in real life. He must have been, because he worked until his 80's, and it's hard to sustain that sort of longevity as an actor if you have a reputation for being difficult.


It's Super Tuesday….

….and Trump's rivals have gotten desperate. Ted Cruz has said that Trump has ties to the Mafia because he did business with S&A Construction, which had been controlled by "Fat Tony" Salerno.

In recent days, Marco Rubio has accused Trump of wetting his pants during the debate, of having small hands, and of having a spray tan. Some of these were responses in kind to some of the mockery Trump had leveled at him. Rubio also said that Trump University was a fraudulent enterprise.

Let's look at the two serious accusations.

The Mafia connection is almost certainly true. It's near impossible to get any major construction done in New York City without the Mob being involved in some way. For a long time they controlled the construction unions and the hauling business. So, Trump basically had no choice but to do business with Mob-controlled entities. Was he aware that he was dealing with the Mafia? Probably. But he also realized that he wouldn't get anything done without at least rubbing shoulders with them.

Is any of this akin to hiring the Mafia to do hits on your rivals? Of course not.

It's a little like saying Warren Buffett is mobbed up because several of the companies he's owned have in the past used Teamsters labor for their trucking needs, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters was for a long time controlled by the Mafia. That's ridiculous; no one has ever seriously accused Buffett of having Mafia ties. But, Buffett never ran for office against Ted Cruz.

(Full disclosure: I rented an apartment in the city which was undoubtedly built by Mob-controlled unions. I went to business school with a woman I'm pretty sure was Carlo Gambino's granddaughter. And my first trash pick-up service in Connecticut was likely Mob-connected. Does this make me a Mafioso? Honestly, I'd like to see myself as The Godfather; that would certainly have made for a more exciting and glamorous life than the dull one I've led. But, unfortunately, I'm not.)

For those of you who would still condemn Trump for his ties, try starting a casino in Atlantic City yourself without ever dealing with Mob-connected figures. You've got a better shot at taking a walk in the rain and not getting wet.

Now, to the second accusation. Is Trump University a fraud? Yeah, basically. When I first heard of it a few years ago, I just assumed that it was a Tony Robbins-style production, a lot of rah rah you-can-do-it pep talks interspersed with a few finance and real estate courses. It turns out there was a certain bait and switch element to the school as well, as they tried to entice students into taking ever more expensive courses.

Was it any more of a fraud than most universities? Not by much. Try getting a good job with a degree in sociology or philosophy or political science or women's studies these days. On top of that, much of what you'll be taught in the social sciences at a typical liberal arts college is more propaganda than fact.

That said, there is something of the huckster about Trump, and the fact that he would start such a school in the first place does say something negative about him -- in a way that having had to deal with the Mafia does not.

Anyway, neither of these accusations will likely have any short term effect. Trump is going to win today, as is Hillary, and the focus will inevitably shift to the general election.

It's going to be a long, ugly campaign; both Rubio and Cruz play softball compared to the Clintons.

"College bans energy drinks: 'They lead to high-risk sex'"

Has there ever been a better advertisement for energy drinks?

Red Bull, Rockstar, and Monster couldn't have paid for this kind of publicity.