Sometimes its hard to tell what our president is thinking. Sometimes I think he’s not thinking at all but reacting.
Yeah, I know, its been said before.
That’s why I haven’t been commenting much on Trump lately. There are far more people (both more qualified and less than I) making statements about and trying to guess what the president is thinking, probably more than at any other time since he’s been a public figure.
Just since November of 2016, the conversation has shifted from trying to do the math as to how he won in the first place to what he’ll do to where he was coming from to is he mentally fit to hold office. So many of these questions have obvious answers. He won by appealing to the baser instincts of a group of Americans who not only feel left behind but even if they voted for him, as many did, were swayed by the constant barrage of dog whistle idiocy that was the media during the Obama administration. They feel left behind by a country that always told them they were golden, chosen people, so when that promise was uncovered as a lie they rebelled. As with most popular rebellions, the scapegoat firewall lay between them and the people who truly fucked them over.
Never before in my lifetime have I seen the Country in such a state of reactionary fervor. If I’ve learned anything it is that you should never think things can’t get any worse, or any weirder. Sometimes being prepared for the worst is the best you can hope for. Not that you should abandon all hope or lose all sense of optimism, but keeping those things in the vacuum of the naive belief that “people are generally good” is downright suicidal.
I often try to look at recent history and try to draw a flowchart in my head to link all the things I’ve seen since the end of the Vietnam era ( I was born the year the conflict reached its Apex of 500,000 US troops) and remember middle-class. I mostly remember the palpable sense of dread that came with slowly admitting defeat in an unwinnable battle. I was born the year of nationwide unrest over the treatment of African-Americans (we were called negro, Colored or just Nigger at the time, in equal measure) and the year before the death of Martin Luther King.
I remember watching as the post-civil rights era played out, how legal segregation turned into redlining and blockbusting and I remember how the wash of irony felt as I sat in a real estate class 40 years later and heard my teacher discuss the practices as if they were ancient history (they weren’t, and aren’t). A few years before that I watched my Mom “steered” into a property in a mostly black part of town and in a double whammy also watched her sold a subprime mortgage with a huge balloon payment that would have kept her in permanent share-cropper status for the rest of her life. I watched as friends who had genius level IQ’s , but had little or no support at home, were shuffled into “alternative education” and taken out of the system of merit they would have all but taken over.
I watched the systematic dismantling of families, the ignorance of the problems faced by people who were just out of reach of the middle-class dream, not quite poverty-stricken, but barely able to make the rent, the car payment, and the heat, and often one or more of the above would suffer. (oh and food, let us not forget food)
I also remember being terror-stricken by television, the resurgence and resurgence, and further resurgences of “hate groups,” militias and various other largely white organizations whose members instinctively knew that their days as the majority were numbered. Who ignored the unequal application of benefits to them and cherry-picked statistics to bolster their own “superiority” (there is nothing funnier and scarier than listening to someone uneducated and unwilling to be, call me a monkey) even when they had an 8th-grade education and hardly a tooth to speak of.
I saw the 50-year slide into identity politics. WHITE identity politics. And now I shake my head when I hear someone like Richard Spenser, Alex Jones or any of their loosely affiliated internet sleeper cell operatives promote the narrative that Blacks, “the Left” and the “the gays” are the ones who started this whore identity politics shit. As a writer, I look out into the world, and it makes no narrative sense, as a truth-teller the story is flawed in a way that disqualifies it even as magical realism. There is nothing real about it.
As I look over all the historical links in my lifetime, I see definite patterns. Some overlap and others diverge, but a few, though taking up different sections of the page, clearly resemble each other.
Taking the experiences of poor White Americans and Poor Black Americans in snapshots of events, drug addiction, poverty, enslavement (Blacks by government mandate through slavery and its aftermath and whites by government mandate through union busting and land grants to wealthy corporations) they trace similar paths. The positive elements also converge, reverence for the elderly, a sense of community, developments in art and culture, resistance to undue authority…
But somehow, some way, the two rarely meet.
They don’t meet because one group, although downtrodden, believed that they were better by virtue of “whiteness”. That belief carried down through the years and was the current on the river to Trumpville.
This is not fake news.
Thinking for a second about some of the self-described leaders of these folks and their motivations there has to be something other than the endgame that gets them off. Even if they could eliminate or disassociate themselves from the rest of us there are still going to be sociopathic tendencies, violent individuals, and disagreements within their midsts.
I often wonder how an ethnostate of any sort would look. Having no skin in the game and no need to wish for such a thing I think I’m a bit freer than most to imagine a more realistic version of this utopia.
It would be like any other society, divided along some imaginary, or real but either way subtly enforced means, messy and stratified and pretty much just as fucked up as the one we have now. Either it would have classlessness imposed by a tyrant, or be capitalistic and leave some people behind. Either way, there is no escape from the same bullshit we face daily, it would just be whiter, or blacker. There is no way, through merely segregating “Europeans” or “Africans” to magically make everything better. The same power struggles, the same marital disagreements, the same arguments about government and what it should and can do will still exist.
Just because y’all look the same, does not make you the same.
Have you ever seen people who agree, are of the same background or the same political beliefs all in the same room together and NOT arguing? In most cases, intra-group disagreements are more violent than those between groups. Without the political or racial “other” to swerve the distraction bus towards, those conflicts would explode.
I guess perfect is the enemy of the good after all.
I’m not fond of the Obama as savior aspect of this, but it does feel remarkably prescient. Post-presidential second acts in this day and age are often as or more potent than their presidencies.
As much as Trump likes to brag about his victory in November , as much as he has ignored the irony of his golf game and his immediate and deliberate use of executive power and as much as his general braggadocio has highlighted his complete disregard for the nuances of policy, he scored the biggest, and arguably the ONLY win needed to secure his legacy today.
The appointment of Neil Gorsuch as the next Supreme Court justice has solidified not only the Trump legacy but also the legacy of the most underhanded republican leadership’s bad magic slight of hand. Its a power grab pure and simple, a power grab disguised as a courtesy to the “next president.” A power grab that could very well backfire in the vein of Anthony Kennedy but that will likely have repercussions throughout my lifetime at the very least. The financial wing of the party, I predict, won especially big.
Lets ignore the fact that the American people yet again failed to see past their partisanship through to the fact that it should have been Obama, not Trump and Garland, not Gorsuch but that by both denying the former president his right and mandate, and changing the senate rules to install a corporate friendly Justice, they have not only flouted convention, but have also caused irreparable damage to the foundations of American democracy. They have set up a situation that weakens the hand of any minority congress including theirs, and I’m sure when it does impact them, much whining will ensue.
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.
Edited 10/20/16 For Clarity and Grammar
Edited 3/28/16 – 11:45 Tags
I have a love/hate relationship with firearms.
On the one hand as a guy who played war and cowboys and Indians as a kid, an adult who has done archery and played countless shoot em ups, I’m fascinated by the skill it takes to hit a target at range. As a slightly paranoid father and household head, I am just as terrified of someone breaking into my home and assailing my family as I am paranoid that they will find, or wrestle a firearm from my hands as I attempt to defend myself.
As an African-American and a reader of history, I understand the complicated relationship we as a people have with firearms and how that relationship has been manipulated. As an American I see both sides of the debate, I see how an interpretation of the 2nd Amendment can be the determining factor in where you stand and how your race and background can figure equally into both your understanding of others feelings and your personal feelings about gun ownership. I also see how that is changing.
What I especially don’t care for is the manipulation of past restrictions on gun ownership by Black Americans by the NRA and other regressive organizations to make political points that work against us. Using the Black Codes as a means to flip the script and somehow paint gun owners as civil rights pioneers is deceitful, hateful and disrespectful as primarily white gun owner associations have never been either enslaved or restricted by the federal government to behave as full citizens, with equal rights under the law.
As a Progressive, I’m seeing both where we have far too many guns in the hands of untrained citizens as it is, and far too few in the hands of those who share my political philosophy. As a practicalist, I see how we are becoming more violent, more volatile as people. As a realist, I also see that part of the reason is that we have a massive proliferation of firearms.
With tensions in the country simmering to the point of boiling over, Trump firing up angry crowds and inciting violence, and most of these folks committed to defending what they feel is rightfully theirs regardless of a lack of logic behind any of it; I’m feeling more like Huey Newton and less like Mahatma Gandhi.
But the fact remains, firearm possession is legal in the United States, so the question becomes should Liberals and Progressives seek gun ownership?
I’m leaning towards yes.
It is ever so slightly paranoid to believe that some race war or civil war on any large scale, is coming. However, if the rise of Trump and his throng of angry and armed supporters decide to wreck havoc, is it not best to be prepared?
It is very easy to assail a person, to threaten them with a gun, a knife or some other sort of physical brutality on a whim if you feel you outgun them, this is an essential tendency of our species, the strong, for better or worse, feel empowered to prey on the weak. Indeed, if they already feel under siege, certainly if they feel emboldened and right. It is alw3ays easier to prey on someone weaker than you than it is to attack someone equal to or stronger than you.
Dominance over smaller women by larger men common in sports, most especially in MMA, is one example of this. Police using deadly force against suspects, primarily but not limited to men of color is another. Is not an equal playing field a guarantee of some semblance of safety?
I find myself now drifting into the realm of the Gun rights camp but not fully, not without the balance of statistics and not without significant reservations.
First reservation: Police.
There aren’t many police confrontations with open carry permit holders of color to compare to the ones posted on youtube with Caucasian men. This one recently occurred in Bridgeport CT, and pretty much goes the way most of the others do. But I do not trust already trigger happy police to handle every confrontation this way. They have proven time and time again that they are willing to break the law and assassinate people as a matter of course. Would people of color applying en masse to get permits change that script? Would Blacks, Browns, Liberals and Progressives open carrying make the same impact?
Second Reservation: Itchy Trigger Finger Syndrome.
The consensus found by recent studies is that having a gun in the home increases the chances of violence, either toward someone else or by self-harm. It is also has been the conclusion of a few studies that firearm possession increases not only the likelihood of their use in a confrontation but the escalation and threat of a confrontation itself in armed motorists. Concluding that people who are armed, and already angry feel extra empowered to use or brandish a firearm. Conservative white men who have grievances based on fear of the other have been involved in the majority of cases of road rage gun use, but would adding carrying Liberals, Blacks, Browns and Progressives who also have legitimate grievances to the mix not only increase the likelihood of violence? Are people indeed people across color lines and politics? My guess is yes.
Third Reservation: Critical Mass.
We’ve seen it time and time again, in many ways, we have this conversation in the first place because of critical mass. When the number, demographically, of “others” begins to eclipse the number of “whites” as it is starting to do now, the assumed balance is upset. The power structure is upended, and those who associated power with race (everyone) starts trying their best to adjust to the new reality. In the case of the United States, it isn’t going well at the moment. Many in the US, who self-identify as “white,” have enjoyed a long stretch of prosperity mostly inherited. The proof of this is all around us, said in explicit terms and implied in coded language that has become part of the vernacular. Many of these very people feel honestly that the election of Barak Obama was the death knell for the old America, which it was, but somehow despite the culture being a mix of the best and worst of all of us, this is only seen by them as a bad thing.
Others have had much more powerful things to say about this, and I suggest seeking them out. The fact remains that if the critical mass in legal gun ownership by Liberals, Progressives, Blacks and Browns is reached, judging by the knee-jerk reactions to the duly elected President, it will be ugly, probably very ugly.
Regardless of what we fear will happen, it is apparent that many folks are paranoid and armed.
Would balancing the paranoid and armed on the right with sober gun owners on the left be a good thing if the path we are on seems bound for confrontation? Or would the number of bullies be less likely to be dissuaded from starting aggressive movements if they knew those they oppose were armed as well?
I know this, an armed society is not immediately a polite one, a polite society is polite despite being armed or disarmed.
I’m still weighing my role in all this.
I wish no ill will on anyone, want nothing more than to live and let live and even find some common ground along the way. I also do not want to be the one with a target on my back. Despite what they may think the changing cultural demographics can benefit everyone, I just don’t want to be a victim of someone who has other ideas.
From “Freedom Fries” to “vie à la France”: right-wing twitter goes batshit over the country they called a pussy 10 years ago
How short the memories of sycophants to an ideology are.
France suffers while the right goes on a hate-fest.
There is almost nothing redeeming about this. There is no cleansing in the release of pent-up anger that in it brings, no discussion it invites, no comfort. Especially the great irony that many of the same people who have been sounding off lately were the same ones stirring up anti-french shit in 2003. Now, suddenly, Obama is the reason the french people are suffering and not the architects of the war that created ISIS in the first place.
For such supposedly intellectually superior individuals (Yeah, looking at you James Woods) there is a whole lot of stupid out there stirring up shit that will probably never settle.
How about this, really, truly grieve for the people who lost their lives yesterday in acts of senseless barbarism. Maybe go even further and recognize that by encouraging the creation of ISIS in the first place we are partially responsible for it.
But that would be thoughtful and adult, and God knows we can’t have that.