It all comes down to money, doesn’t it?
Money coupled with power. Power over people via “ideas” that have more in common with emotional revulsion than logic. This is what we are now.
Steve Bannon was at the left hand of the seat of power; he was the co-pilot of the administration, arguably the primary architect of the Trump victory. You’d have to be utterly blind, delusional, Stockholm Syndrome-addled or just uncaring not to see this. The nearly transparent lie that there was no collusion on the part of Bannon’s appeals to race resentment and the violence that often erupted at Trump rallies doesn’t need calling out, it is there, in plain sight, for all to see.
Nor does the connections to the Alt-Right, real Nazis, and other assorted white supremacists, they too, are plain. Through the denials (what common criminal ever said, “Yeah, I did it, that was me” when being cornered by the cops?) the obstrufications and every logical event to the contrary, Bannon, Breitbart and its network of ideologues and hangers-on continue to play a role in the conversation or at least continue to keep the discussion about them, bolstering the profiles of both the wave riders and the hard idealogues.
There is no such thing as bad press.
So why are we still playing this game?
Why are we still under the delusion that we are living under anything but a proto-fascist state, a state that combines the worst elements of our cold war and second world war enemies. We now represent the things we have purportedly fought against for most of the 20th century. It’s no longer about left and right ideologies because both would be crushed under the weight of the oligarchy. When there isn’t freedom for anyone, ideology is moot.
It is a cold hard fact that for all of the history of the United States we have been awash in white supremacy. Its taken many forms as the idea of whiteness have been adopted by various Europeans and those of European descent. It isn’t unique to this nation, but the brand of white superiority and supremacy is. We are unique in the fact that we’ve inhabited a Janus-like guise, out of one face we say we are pluralistic and generous, the huddled masses are welcome to come and add their uniqueness to our own and to our collective culture, on the other we are xenophobic, racist and fearful of difference although demonstrably, once we know each other personally those elements diminish.
We also claim to value our collective contributions to our society. We claim to not see race or sex and that the value we place on our fair values is absolute. Even on our political left, there is this illusion, the corridors of power in our entertainment are littered with the desiccated bodies of the women who know better. Liberal Hollywood is awash in its form of hypocrisy. Weinstein, Cosby, and Baldwin, either get a pass or use their considerable power as men to create false personas that defy their goodness while hiding their toxic badness.
At the risk of sounding SWJish, White Male Superiority in general. Yes, even Cosby.
Masculinity is at least a convening force in all this. I’ve spoken before about how this mirror universe came to pass, how the power structure that was had been challenged by an educated, non-white man, and then an educated (albeit universally unlikeable) white woman and the resulting pushback gave us a starring role in the Truman shitshow we live in now. How the years of ingrained, assumed norms of power and who was inherently qualified to wield it, unraveled while Rural White Male America slept soundly in their beds, secure in the fact that their hegemony wouldn’t be undone by a one-term Nigger president.
See how that happened?
We didn’t elect a white knight, we chose the anti-Nigger, the crass boldness embodiment of everything we would have lynched Obama for, and some things lesser, that we tried to. Trump’s money, his conspicuous consumptive nature on full display in House Horrific gold inlay pimp my penthouse bling, his pussy grabbing dullard braggadocio, his obviously ignorant grasp of policy and its implications, all of it punishable by death for any nonwhite who isn’t signed to Bad Boy or in the NBA. Trump is gangsta personified.
Must be the money…
So I was on a semi-self-imposed news blackout until very recently due in no small part to my own personal upheavals, but also just because….Trump.
So now I’ve begun paying more attention, watching and reading more news and following more closely, the national goings on. Thankfully I’m in a much better headspace for all of this because if I’d decided to forgo reason and dive head first as my personal life was unraveling, I’m honestly not sure I’d still be writing today.
Watching our president move with the sound off is frustrating enough, but with the sound on, it’s utterly terrifying.
How could we have been so stupid? How in the hell could we have elected this orange-thin-skinned pussy grabber, the leader of the free world? How do we not see this as the horrible national embarrassment it truly is? That a uniquely unqualified buffoon who clearly has no aptitude for the truth because he hasn’t a clue as to what that word even means, could possibly win a plurality of electoral college votes, with not a single dissenting maverick to stand in the way of this thoroughly embarrassing national disgrace?
Where are our Paines, our Parks our Kings and Peltiers? Why don’t we see how obviously our dissenting voices are absent from the debate, and how obviously we’ve become twisted up in what it means to dissent in the first place? How did the Alt-right, an animal crafted as a propaganda arm of Nazis and internet trolls who finally feel like they have a place at a table that is owned by the Jewish Cabal, actually become a legitimate voice in national politics?
I’m not of the mindset that this country is over, that with this one election we have sealed our fate. I do believe this is the last death spasm of an old skin being shaken off, but what of what’s underneath?
When will we, as a country, as a people, realize that we’ve entirely fucked up.
When we have people like Alex Jones and Mike Chernovich actually participating in the public dialog as legitimate players, how do we not see how truly fucked we are?
At the same time though, it easy to become un-fucked, just pay attention.
I don’t do Facebook much. Every time I’m lured back by some innocuous post and I get sucked back into the insanity for a bit, I pull a little further away. On several occasions I’ve been worked into such a frenzy that I feel like my heart just might quit. Frankly, aside from a few friends and relatives, it really isn’t worth using anymore.
The ridiculousness of this past election cycle had me closer than ever to hitting “delete.”
When you hear friends you thought were reasonable, say completely unreasonable things, or friends you knew were unreasonable already, say things so outrageous you can’t believe they felt emboldened to say them “in public” it feels like time to pull away.
This whole planet has me concerned at the moment. Where the US is heading is very well a dangerous and potentially violent place. Some of us believed that having access, making information and opinion more democratic, would create a learned republic. One akin to the one the founding fathers envisioned, except more varied economically with women and Black folks included, effectively democratizing learning and making us all better voters and better citizens. HA!
It seems there is that little missing element that also exemplifies an egalitarian democratic republic, ignorance.
When you have no compelling reason to cooperate in the democratic process there is no incentive to educate yourself and its so very easy to just hit the nearest button that has written on it how you feel at that very moment. Not how you think, or have reasoned through, but simply how you feel.
Now feelings are great, they are great for creating art, for manipulating and coercing your kid to do their homework, great for schmoozing and wooing, but alone, they are terrible for democracy. Feelings betray biases, and generally biases are not reasonable, they may come from a vague place of reason, but they are not reasonable in and of themselves. Feelings should not be the sole reason you vote for a particular candidate, using feelings as a sole measure will always lead to buyers remorse.
So does this mean that democracy may not be the best way to go?
I really don’t know but as the days go by, I’m doubting American democracy more and more and that scares the shit out of me.
Edited 10/26/16 @10:46 EST for clarity and stupid grammar tricks.
A continuing irony in this election cycle has been the outcry by many Republicans at Trump’s apparent distaste for the American system of elections. His bloated, arrogant, and above all ignorant toss-off of peaceful power transitions and little things like the will of the people mirroring exactly what they have done for the past eight years. His manipulation of the drooling doglike obedience of his followers maligns the very constitution they collectively seem unable to comprehend, something the Republican establishment knows full well how to do.
As has been the case with much of Herr Trump’s rhetorical upchucking, mainstream conservatism has been caught with its pants around its ankles, bent over, inviting the diddling it publicly decries.
They have been riding this pony sidesaddle for some years now, and now that it is trying to buck them off they are suddenly aware of its wild nature? There is no doubt that Democrats have done similar damage to their base over the years by not adhering to fundamental fairness (in the case of the infamous Sanders emails) and refusing to appear with the current president for fear of political self-immolation, putting their re-elections against the better nature (and needs) of the party.
Democrats are equally (in measure) guilty of half-stepping but not nearly as guilty (in scope) of torching the country in a burning hatred that consumes all reason.
The Republicans have taken it several steps further into wackadoodledom. While espousing fairness, honor, and dignity they have spat and shat on both concepts repeatedly by reflexively blocking everything the Obama administration has put forward, not even allowing a break-fix of Obamacare, just setting out to break it. They have stirred racial animosity through the coded language of the Tea Party and its affiliates and promised a one term president instead of working with him to get some of their agenda included in the discussion at the adult table. They have done for the past eight years what the Donald has threatened to do for at least the next four, not recognize the duly elected president of the united states, just not in those words.
Again, the conservative “establishment” is late to its party. It’s been off somewhere snorting coke with supermodels that look suspiciously like David and Fred while its “base” raids the local white sale. Arriving near the end of the soiree, they, still snowblind, are amazed at the sight of so many Black men hanging limply from the burning cross in the middle of the living room. It only takes a year or so for them also to realize that the word effigy has nothing to do with this scene, oops.
I’ve said it before; the GOP owns Trump, and every word that comes out of his mouth is a distillation of the entitlement rage complicitly and explicitly stirred up by them. Trump is the Frankenstein’s monster assembled from puppet parts by the puppets themselves, made of hate, anger, and fear and brought to life with the words and actions of the party’s surrogates.
Aside from the fact that they knew that Trump was a sociopathic, groping, drooling, egging on-ish boor who’d look at the burnt out remains of the GOP’s grotesquely scorched statue as its centerpiece and not recognize it as his doing. They invited this party crasher inside, not only by giving him the keys but by laying out clear, concise directions to the mansion and in a coca leaf fueled haze giving him free rein to bring all his friends in and trash the place.
Just because they blacked out doesn’t mean they get to disavow the destruction they’ve wrought, not only on the Republican party but the entire country.
And you know what? They probably never will.
Could it be that the drug war began as a way to demonize the poor and brown? NO WAY!
If you can stomach it, take a look at the latest apologia from the NYT’s resident cool-headed Republican David Brooks.
If he read this, I’d point him to THIS, and ask him? Why did you wait until they came for you?
Edited on 3/14/17, For clerical errors. 😉
I feel on some days that I’m watching the country I love descend into madness.
Anyone who has watched a loved one slip into a bout of dementia and then ascend to relative normalcy and experienced the false hope that the person you knew and loved would continue to be recognizable to you as the disease progresses knows this feeling. The surfacing of someone over months or years, instead of the death throes of a once vital personality, become the delusion of “getting better.”
I fear that this country may be in those throes.
We seem to surface just long enough to elect a Black president and then dip below the surface in calling for his “papers.” We take a deep breath, rising above the waves in securing a free market solution to “health care for all,” but then go down a second time when the very people who came up with the idea denounce it based on fears that never materialize, or “death panels” that never existed. We barely turn our faces to the sky, open our mouths and aspirate when we finally recognize the dangerous influence of money and its exertion of power over everyone else, we have OWS and yet the Tea Party.
We seem constantly clinging to a raft and letting go, to be drowned willingly in madness.
Alexandre Dumas, the author of “The Three Musketeers” and “The Count of Monte Cristo,” places an extraordinary value on memory as both a plot device and a philosophical concept. In “Monte Cristo” the Count is left to rot, he and his crime are lost to the ages, his captors have moved on with their lives and forgotten him and the wrong they did him, this concept resonates today.
Our memory of our history and its revisionism is spelled out for us in this storyline. Dumas, whose father was the product of a relationship between a French nobleman and a Black slave, and who himself was subjected to racist taunts at the height of his artist prowess, stresses remembrance by showing us the product of our forgetfulness. In making an allegory of the Count, his unfair imprisonment, and subsequent release, he has not only set the stage for one of the greatest and most influential literary and filmic devices, the revenge story but makes a serious case for the determents and merits of remembering and forgetting.
We have forgotten much in our America.
Textbooks in the South insist that Slavery was a benign institution, one benefitting Africans by giving them religion and culture and by keeping them safe and warm, clothed and fed. I was watching Netflix the other day and came across “Chelsea on…” a series where comedian Chelsea Handler takes on particular topics, one of which was Race. One of the segments stuck out to me with this very idea at its core. Forgetting and remembering, conveniently forgetting the historical guilt and committing the greater sin of willfully changing the past to cover it up.
Many white southerners (and a growing number of others), especially those who self-describe as conservative, have an interesting blind spot for the culpability of the peculiar institution and its role in causing a rift between North and South. Even as I type this I am extra cautious in choosing my words, somehow feeling the need to protect the delicate ego of a place that has more bones in its racial closet than almost anywhere else on the planet. I feel the need to protect the very same people who enslaved my ancestors from their uncomfortable truths. Forgetting and remembering at odds inside me too.
As I watched apologist after apologist claim their feelings were being hurt by Ms. Handler’s lines of questioning I contrasted the very real image of the heavy slave shackles in a later segment, shackles very similar to those in the possession of my aunt, a collector of what she calls “memorabilia.” I wrestled with my seething anger and knew what Dumas’ concentration on memory and reemergence was all about. All of this bring home the notion that remembrance is probabaly our weakest human trait, as human-Americans it is even weaker.
As I watched Trump apologist Jeffrey Lord rewrite history in the worst, most bizarre way, I got that same feeling. He essentially argued that the KKK was a left-wing organization and that the left was solely responsible for the divisions in this country (see the exchange between he and Van Jones here, courtesy of the Washington Post) pulling out every rhetorical stop to nullify Jones’ argument about Trump and race. How this and much else on subject to debate can even qualify as “debateable” boggles my mind.
Unfortunately, this is more common than not. When someone screams “know your history” most often it is they who do not. Dumas, in the 18th century, understood this concept all too well.
The manipulation of memory is easier when those memories are accusatory; painful in the way they puncture the empowered’s sense of privilege. They are harder to change when the person bearing them has been ground under the boot heel of the memories themselves. They are mutable, through tons of pressure, pressure from those reacting to the wrongs they feel have been fostered upon them by the weak and powerless. All of what precedes, what is occurring now is why literature is so important, why philosophy matters and why curiosity counts.
Though there is no guarantee that knowing will lead to a saner life. In the case of the drowning man, another breath of air prolongs the struggle enough to fight on some more, but only for a limited amount of time. If no one is willing to see the water surrounding him, if no one is willing to understand that the same is surrounding them as well, eventually everyone will drown.
Criticism of Trump for not denouncing White Nationalists carries with it a certain irony in the GOP who, until recently, hadn’t started exposing Trump’s bullshit.
As troubling as it is that Trump carries the support he does it is even more so that the Republican party won’t take the blame for him in the first place. After years and years of race-baiting, 2nd Amendment remedies and fellow creep Ted Nugent, like an abusive boyfriend, they still claim they were innocent.
Especially ironic is the fact that Romney himself was pulled greatly to the right by the Republican base during the 2012 contest, not to mention that gaffe.
So supposedly there is this tape floating around the New York Times that confirms what anyone with half a brain already knows, “the Donald” is full of shit.
Earlier this week he started rumbling about suing the media when they print mean things about him (damn that pesky 1st amendment, you know that one that wouldn’t exist without the one following it) and now in a conveniently not at all retaliatory fashion the NYT’s Gail Collins strongly hinted that the tape was a game changer for Trump, although given the fervor of his legion of zombies, I highly doubt that.
Right now, nothing short of Trump revealing himself as Barak Obama’s Kenyan uncle could derail this campaign. Part of the appeal of any sort of fascistic movement is its complete divorce from reality, its utter anti-intellectualism and cultural understanding outside its own angry demographic.
Does anyone really think this guy who famously wrote about his style of “winning” which consisted of saying whatever people wanted to hear to get them in the door and then, once they are trapped inside, completely changing the rules? Has anyone actually read “The Art of the Deal?” Seen the Apprentice?
Trump’s juggernaut is about one thing anger, no rage. Rage at the fact that what was guaranteed by status was not fulfilled, and that average Joe White is losing ground, ground overlooking average Joe Minority but slowly eroding. Ground lost because Average Joe White allowed his natural advantage to distance himself from the plight of Average Joe and Jane everyone else. The ground lost because instead of looking at opportunity in equal measure with effort, he championed effort without equal opportunity all the while ignoring his own privilege. And yeah, I said it, privilege. So instead of recognizing the fact that the opportunities that they had all along, that others never had, should be expanded to include everyone, their skin takes precedence over their situation.
The ethnic lines that once divided them (Irish, German, Swiss, English, Dutch etc…) are now uniting them and ironically, they are turning on themselves as much as they are anyone else. I’ve already written about the sad fact that middle aged white men are dying off in large numbers due to a combination of lifestyle diseases and suicide.
WTF??? ANY group that has that high a death rate should be assisted, treated and taken care of, but again irony intercedes. Because of the very myths of independence they still cling to, myths that time and time again are disproved, they are not seeking help, and therefore, literally dying off.
This cancerous anger, resentment and fear is killing off people and that is something to bemoan regardless of whether you agree with them politically or not. People are people and they deserve the same life, liberty and happiness that everyone does.
They just may have to give up a little status to get it.
Something many, sadly, just cannot do.
It’s always a surreal experience watching Donald Trump say almost anything. Not that much of what comes out makes any sense beyond braggadocio and bluster, but watching him talk, watching him move creates a particular sense of unease in me. Any political candidate has to pare down their message to digestible talking points, whether this is the fault of the media or of an ADD riddled public I won’t go into now, but at least there are some bellwether guiding principles beneath the clips. Trump defies this tradition in the absolute vapidity of his rhetoric.
Simply put Trump is terrifying to watch, his legion of angry followers even more so. Even at the level of Sanders, whom I support, there is a certain amount of pandering in his soaring rhetoric and unrealistic promises. This is unfortunately necessary as we have to some extent always valued condensed ideas over screeds. We are fascinated over manifestos but barely take the time to read them, we know the names but haven’t read the works.
We are so easily misled, often by people who have been misled themselves or worse who know that they are intentionally bending Scripture, Marx, Hitler, Smith, to suit their own purposes. The problem is that we have become too intellectually lazy to even think about fact-checking anyone, too dim-witted to go where we are uncomfortable, to stupid to really care about anoyone but ourselves and our own unchecked assumptions.
Unfortunately, this is what we deserve. Trump, Clinton, Cruz, Rubio, playing the children around a schoolyard picnic table hurling insults at each other and the American people while Kasich and Sanders try to rise above the fray. Neither is perfect, but they are the adults in a room of increasingly agitated and angry children. Kasich is still too far right for my tastes and Sanders is to old and studious to stand against the poop flinging zoo that is congress, but either is far better than the assortment of alternatives above.
Trump continues to exemplify pretty much everything wrong with America currently. Trump proves the founders original eligible voter criteria right as his minions may be white, but far too few are truly educated. Jefferson was fluent in several languages, intellectually curious and doubtfully would have been as dismayed by having to press “1” for English as many of the people who revere him are. The same can be said for Adams, Franklin and Madison. What a shame, what a terrible travesty that the people so often quoted and revered by scholars and statesmen alike are so cruelly excised from the pantheon of those we try to emulate.
We are more than willing to blindly quote the 1st, 2nd or 5th amendments to the constitution for our political purposes, but reject the responsibility to live up to the exemplary lives of the people who wrote them. We rattle off defenses against people attacking us based on the constitution but even those of us who know what the text says can barely place ourselves in the minds of those who conjured the words. We champion “rights” with no thought to “responsibilities.”
We have become exactly what the founders feared. We have become the uneducated rabble that their restrictive voting protocols tried to stave off. Yes there was inherent in them racism, classism and sexism, but at their root was the very real and now fulfilled fear that we would be led by a consortium of self-interested ignorant idiots. When we expanded voting rights to all we neglected to expand education of all, and that, in the guise of a Donald Trump (or if not him, the inevitable NEXT him) will be our downfall.
Great empires always seem to collapse inward. Ours is no different, and in all likelihood, next to go.