The Shape of Things to Come

 

(The earlier version inadvertently left out the James Baldwin quote which is obviously essential to understanding this post )

 

James Baldwin saw it decades ago.  It was inevitable, then, as it is now.

I, myself, have been feeling a nebulous sense of impending upheaval for maybe five or six years now; an unshakable belief that something major and huge and very terrifying was just beyond the horizon, approaching like a weather front. I could feel the enormity of it in my bones.

It scared and depressed the hell out of me, because this shadow didn’t have a shape. I fretted over what form it would take and how it would finally present itself. I considered perhaps, there would be a pandemic or another world war fought over dwindling resources. (Both are still quite possible. In fact, I’d say, highly likely.)

There were times I felt as if I were losing my mind, losing grip with reality,  becoming one of those tedious depressive types, like that chick Woody Allen tries to pick up in the museum in Play It Again Sam.

I held back from bringing up my fears too often to others because, let’s face it, it’s fucking depressing. Nobody wants to hang around with Betty Buzzkill. My friends like me because I make them laugh. I’d seriously harsh their mellows with all that Henny Penny gloom and doom stuff.

Over the last couple of years, however, the shape of The Thing is becoming clearer. Certainly Trump is a harbinger, a catalyst, a symptom, a symbol…but he is not the root cause nor the end, in and of itself.  If it hadn’t been him, it would have been another demagogue, another catalyst. The zeitgeist is ripe for these kinds of men.  The balance is tipping and they are not giving up their power and privilege without a fight.

I believe the future that James Baldwin predicted is finally upon us.

Oddly, there’s a bit of a relief in finally being able to see the shape of it.

 

Addendum: what I meant find that last paragraph, is that a threat you can name and fight is better than a shapeless, formless threat that you cannot even identify.

 

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The Worms Crawl In, the Worms Crawl Out…

     Brett Kavanaugh has that smarmy, self-satisfied look of a certain type of #fakeChristian, such as the oh-so-punchable-faced #TedCruz, #RickSantorum, and #PaulRyan.  It’s not their church that informs on their behavior.  These men use their “religion” as an excuse for their bigoted, reactionary views. It’s because of who they already are that draws them to that dogma and allows them to justify their reprehensible beliefs.
     These guys are smart enough to succeed professionally in their chosen fields but it never occurs to them that they’ve arrived where they have because of their white privilege. They all function out of  the belief that they are deserving of their positions because of their cleverness and native superiority.
     Underneath their smirks, however, they are all, to a man, deeply insecure. I’ll bet they were all intensely disliked in school, perhaps bullied. They align themselves with so-called Christianity as a deflection from their own lack of innate morality. They use it as a crutch and a means to get ahead. In truth, their moral center consists only of “You scratch my back; I scratch yours.” Doesn’t matter to them one whit where it itches or what’s causing the irritation or who’s doing the scratching.
     Let us not forget that Brett Kavanaugh was one of the architects of the Bush torture policies. He also recently tried to prevent “Jane Doe”, an underage immigrant girl being held in a HHS facility, from having an abortion until it was too late. (His ruling de facto blocked her, but he was subsequently overruled by a higher court.)
     Does anyone think that he had even one moment of soul searching before he wrote those briefs? I don’t.  He did what he did to get ahead. This is what the GOP machine wanted, so scratch-scratch.
     He is a worm. A self-satisfied, self-important worm. Just like so many of them.

And In the End…the Hate you Make is Equal to…

I know it’s petty and vengeful of me, but when this national nightmare is over,  the first thing I want is to have the whole lot of them behind bars. {Although, frankly,  I wouldn’t be terribly upset if Prince Cheesypoof met a Gaddafi ending.)
The fact is, I don’t think we can even move on until he (along with his cronies) has been appropriately punished.  He must NOT be allowed to slink away and live a normal life.  He’s a traitor to his country.  He’s hurt too many people to have an easy ending.   Penance must be paid so we can commence with national healing.
Nixon got away far too easily but at least he was capable of feeling shame and humiliation.  That haunted him to the end of his days.  That was his penance.  But Trump has no such ability…not to feel shame nor guilt nor regret. He has no capity for self-examination.   His entire sense of self comes from outside validation.
No,  for this country to heal, he must have everything taken away.  He must be less than nothing.  No power.  No money.  He must hold no public sway. There must be no adoring fans.   His name must be removed from every building and public space.
Of course, in prison,  there will be no access to his phone or Twitter, nor will there be any media interviews. He will have no public presence at all. Nobody will report on him.  No matter what he does,  it’s not to be reported to the public, with the exception of his death.
He must sleep on scratchy burlap sheets and have to use the toilet in front of his big, bad, very angry, vengeful Mexican Black-Muslim cell mate. The guards, too,  shall be of similar ethnicity and demeanor.  With long memories and sadistic fetishes.
He must be forced to  shower in front of everyone so they can all collectively mock his teeny tiny pookie.
He shall be given no comb, brush, scissors or hair spray.  His scalp must revert to its natural state.  Photos must be taken of him in this condition and sneaked out of prison and published in the tabloids.
The TV in the break room must always be set to CNN.
Oh, and not even one scoop of ice cream.
Did I forget anything?

Coming Soon: A Trump-Branded Dystopian Future

‘Approved by Donald Trump’: Asbestos sold by Russian company is branded with the president’s face

Wow. Just wow.  There really is no bottom to the Trump Cesspit. I don’t know why I am still even a little bit surprised each time he sinks lower into the stinking ooze.  His craven whore-itude is mind-boggling in its boundlessness.  He seems to be on a singular mission to create a Trump-branded dystopian future from which the human race may never recover.

I’m sure I don’t have to remind everyone that asbestos is a known carcinogen. But why should he care if people suffer and die of mesotheliomia as long as he gets to push his brand internationally?  He’s willing to put his name on just about any sub-par product, any scam,  as long as he’s paid for the use of his name.  But asbestos? As bad as Trump University was, at least it didn’t cause cancer. (That we know of.)

This week he threatened Ecuador into retracting a UN bill promoting breast feeding.  Depriving babies of their mothers’ milk! I wonder how much he got from the formula manufacturers, because you know he holds no personal views and has no actual information on the subject.  And while formula may be a godsend for mothers who, for various reasons,  cannot breast feed,  it should never be a first choice when the natural alternative is available. Similac consists mainly of high fructose corn syrup, palm oil, cupric sulfate (a pesticide) and other highly processed foods that even full-grown adults shouldn’t be eating. (If you don’t understand the health ramifications of all that, Google it.)  Trump is literally promoting feeding dietary poison to children for his own benefit.  Remember, that baby formula is touted in many developing countries as “superior to mother’s milk.”   Women, especially less educated ones, believe the propaganda. Like most mothers, they want the best for their babies.  In some cultures, using formula is a status symbol connoting affluence. Alas, in many cases, buying formula is a financial hardship to families, so they water it down thus depriving their developing babies of nutrients. And if they use less-than-sanitary water they are  possibly introducing harmful bacteria, parasites, etc. into their baby’s system. But why should Trump consider any of these things.?  It’s all good, as long as he’s getting whatever benefit the formula producers have promised him.

I’m not even going to delve into his promotion of oil, coal, gas and other dirty fuels at the expense of solar and other clean sources. Or his easing restrictions on dumping toxic waste into our rivers and streams. Or his selling off pristine federal parkland to mining companies.  We already know who’s paying him to promote those policies.

And let’s not forget the harm he does every day to women, POC —  pretty much anyone who isn’t white, male, nominally Christian, and cisgendered.

And clearly,  obviously, without a shadow of a doubt,  he’s working with Putin to destroy Western alliances and fracture internal national unity around the globe.  Together, they are exacerbating existing political and social rifts,  not just in the USA, but around the world,  both within national borders and between traditional allies. (Canada and England are now on our shit list?!?!)

These things go far beyond the insatiably greedy whims of a toxic narcissistic.  For once, I agree with the Evangelicals. Trump’s rise to power does feel somehow biblical.  Even an atheist such as myself believes — and not even metaphorically — that he is the antichrist whose ascendancy harkens the end of times.

The world is a tinderbox.  Millions, perhaps billions, of people are on edge, barely holding back their panic, living with the heavy stone of dread in the pit of their gut.  Tensions are high.  Patience and compassion are low.  Any small act can set off WWIII.

The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand was not the reason for WWI.  It was the match that lit the fuse on a huge stockpile of geopolitical dynamite.  And now the human race finds itself, again, but one tiny spark away…

I wish I could be more hopeful.  I hope I am wrong.  For all our sakes.

America is Almost Great Again!

 

 

It’s so exciting!  We’re going back to the days when America was great!

When broads and n***ers and queers and wetbacks and Jews and Muslims and Hindus and immigrants knew their place: subservient to the “Christian” white man.   Back when the Bible was all the law a man needed.

Back to the days when a white man could rape and pillage to his heart’s content with zero negative consequences. In fact,  highly successful raping and pillaging was a sure path to fame and glory.

Back when it was his prerogative to grab and fondle any woman he chose,  and she just had to shut up and take it.  Because she existed for his pleasure and service only. Because she was nothing and he was everything.

Back to the days when a man could impregnate a woman at will and she would be forced to carry his baby to term because how *dare* she try to abort his seed when her  main God-given purpose on the earth was as baby incubator.

Back to the days when even the most ignorant, unenlightened white men were at the top of the pecking order simply by virtue of their skin color, never mind their education or intelligence or qualifications. And being at the top meant they were always right, even when they were wrong, by virtue of the fact that they were, de facto, always right. Their uninformed opinion was of greater value than the educated views of lesser mortals,  even those well-versed in history, science, law, and well, facts. in general.

Back when white men got first dibs on everything, and maybe,  just maybe, if the less fortunate were standing in just the right place and made themselves nonthreatening enough,  they might gather up a few fallen crumbs.

Back to when America’s history was that of the white man, and nobody else’s story mattered.

Yes, back when America was great.

For white men.

 

 


artwork: Conan and Slave girl – Ernie Chan

An Open Letter to Every Senator

(I will be faxing this to every senator over the next week.  Feel free to share, to send to your own senators or every senator.)

 

Dear Senator,

I am writing to implore you to postpone the selection and appointment of a new SCOTUS justice until Mr. Mueller has finished his criminal investigation.

The Senate’s own bipartisan committee has come to the undeniable conclusion that the Russians were instrumental in gaining the White House for Mr. Trump.  That he now meets with Putin one-on- one and is obviously doing Russia’s bidding clearly implies quid pro quo.  Mr. Trump has blatantly, publicly, and admittedly committed obstruction of justice more times than we can count.  We know he has a loyalty test for anyone he appoints to any office or judgeship.  It’s quite clear that he has little regard for our Constitution or the law of the land,  not now and not ever.  He has already claimed he can pardon himself, and anyone he so chooses.

To allow such an undeniably corrupt man to choose a Supreme Court justice is an affront to our democracy. Whoever takes Justice Kennedy’s seat will ultimately decide on important constitutional issues such as presidential self-pardon, whether a sitting president can be indicted, whether double jeopardy applies (can someone tried in federal court later be tried in state courts on the same general charges?),  and other important points of law which will affect whether or not our democracy can survive this administration.

Separation of the judiciary, executive, and legislative branches of government is imperative to preserving our freedoms. To allow Mr. Trump to appoint a loyal soldier to the SCOTUS will de facto make him immune to the law, giving him carte blanche to perpetrate his next outrageous affront to democracy.  He’s already stated he likes the idea of “President for Life.”  Those who doubt he would attempt to make that a reality if he could are, quite frankly, delusional.

I recognize that conservatives are anxious to overturn Roe v Wade, gay marriage, consumer and worker protections, voter protection laws, and that this is their once in a lifetime opportunity to do so.  But at what cost?  To do so at the expense of the Constitution and rule of law, ignoring the obvious criminality and frankly, probable treason of a cruel, vengeful, immature president, will be a Pyrrhic victory. If you grant such a man more power, our country will quickly descend into a nightmarish dictatorship. One of Mr. Trump’s possible nominees,  a woman, believes that women should be subservient to men.  Several do not believe in the doctrine of stare decisis, and would be quite happy to overturn previous SCOTUS decisions.  If you have never watched The Handmaid’s Tale, I suggest you do so.  It is terrifyingly prescient.

It is on the Senate alone to uphold our Constitution and defend those who currently enjoy protection under the law.  Only a small percentage of Americans are willing to trade away our freedoms for short term gains.  The rest of us are outraged that the Senate would even consider a justice who would overturn the laws that we have come to rely on and accept as our rights.

Please, for the sake of our country,  do not allow Donald Trump to appoint the next SCOTUS justice until after Mr. Mueller’s investigation is over.  Or  at least not until after the next election, which,  according to Senator McConnell,  is how it should be.

Sincerely,

Adrienne Gusoff

Let the Shun Shine

Shunning and public humiliation are the oldest form of jurisprudence known to mankind, predating codified law.  I trust you all read The Scarlet Letter in high school? And I’m sure you all know about the old practice of punishing people for various infractions by putting them in public stocks in the town square. Oh, and let’s not forget one of my favorites,  tarring and feathering.  Many societies (The Amish, Hasids) still shun and shame group members whose behavior falls outside their community norms. Shunning/exclusion/humiliation/shaming exists because it is effective.
EVERYONE who supports and/or enables this administration should be publicly called to task. Their personal lives should be made a living hell (as they’ve made ours.)  Dog knows, SHS is more than complicit. She is one of the biggest enablers and defenders of 45 and his heinous policies.
It’s been just a year and a half since the inauguration, and It’s no longer a question of whether this country will descend into fascism. We are already there. People are justifiably terrified. (And those who aren’t are either racist, greedy and/or completely clueless.)  We, of good conscience, must resist on every possible front. The time for politeness is past.  We are fighting for the very soul of this country.
We know what the French Resistance did to Nazi collaborators. Sarah should consider herself fortunate that the worst that befell her this week was being  politely asked to leave a restaurant whose immigrant staff found her very presence abhorrent. There were quite a few Twitter threads suggesting far worse punishments.  For example,     

So yes, I’m all in favor of public shaming.  The Resistance should stand for its principles and refuse to tolerate the lies, the evil, the racism, the cruelty. And when this administration ends (which can’t come soon enough), every enabler who isn’t in prison (which hopefully won’t be many) should be shunned in the workplace so the only jobs open to them are perhaps cashier at Hobby Lobby or fry cook at Chick-Fil-A.

________

Shared from Myrna Moran’s page—eloquent justification for Huckabee-Sanders’ ejection from a restaurant, from a tweet by the Twitter handle “Archimedes Resists Migrant Concentration Camps:  (Thank you John Blumenthal, for sharing.)

“I’m sorry Sarah didn’t get served last night, but I want to clear up a few things. We are not celebrating that she got kicked out, we do not want this. We are celebrating that Republicans are now being treated the way they want to treat everyone else.

What did you think would happen when SCOTUS ruled bakeries could refuse to serve LGBTQ people on religious grounds? When Hobby Lobby wanted to deny women contraception? When Dr.’s started saying they didn’t want to treat Trans people? All on “moral grounds”.

Did you think the “right” had the sole ownership of morals? You’ve told yourselves that the “left” is a bunch of amoral crazy people for so long, you’ve probably started to believe it yourself. Its not true. Our morals say treat ALL people with dignity regardless of who they are…

But that has been our weakness. We thought we needed to treat all of you with the same respect as we want to be treated. We gave you the idea that your racist, homophobic, isolationist points of view were valid and we should listen.

What we failed to understand is that by listening, we validated you, we made you think those points of view were compatable with a civilized society. We thought maybe if we were reasonable, you would listen, you would …change. We were wrong.

Now every gay couple has to go into a bakery and ask if they are allowed to get a cake. Women are scrambling to try and find how to get birth control, Trans people have to wonder if they will be attacked for using a bathroom.

So, I’m not sorry if there is a new trend of the “left”, or as I call them, moral Americans, standing up and saying we will not tolerate people who lock children in cages, dehumanize other members of society.

You will now have to wonder if you go into a business if you will be welcome. You may have to ask…”do you serve Republicans?” Yes, it is humiliating but it seems the only way to get a Republican to realize when something is wrong, is to make them feel it themselves.

Welcome to the America that you fought for. Where we can refuse to acknowledge you on “moral grounds”. You did this. Your lack of empathy and dehumanization of others did this. Now, you can stick to your “morals” or you can help us fix it. Your choice.”

Rent Asunder

I would like to point out to those who are speaking out against our cruel immigration policy of separating families at the border:  please do not suggest that just because these people are fleeing danger in their own country, they have a right to illegally cross our borders.

You will lose that argument.

Borders are not “arbitrary lines in the sand” as I’ve heard some say. They exist and are defended for a reason. And people cross them for a reason.  Any country has the right to defend its borders and decide who may legally enter and reside within.

If we did not do that, we would have half the world at our doorstep.

The issue that must be argued now is our immigration POLICY.  It’s a complex issue because we need to balance the security of our borders with both compassion and  our need for cheap, transient labor. In the past, we often looked the other way with a wink and a nod. That doesn’t work, either.

People fleeing violence must be allowed to legally present themselves at the border and apply for asylum. They must be given a fair and unbiased hearing within a reasonable amount of time. They must be compassionately housed and fed while waiting. And for GOD’S SAKE, families must remain intact.  But no, they do not have a right to be in this country simply because they have stepped foot in this country, regardless of by which entry method.  The legal right to remain is ultimately decided by the court.

Obviously,   different administrations put forth their own policies (i.e. DACA) but the government does have the last say.  So if the government decides to deport someone because their case is not strong enough, so be it. But they must stop perpetuating this cruelty and child abuse in our name.  I think…I hope…most every American can agree on that.   THAT must be the argument in this moment and it must stay on message, otherwise the counter argument is:  “So should we just let them all in?” to which the answer is clearly, “no.”

We need a humane immigration policy, which uses the same criteria for each person seeking asylum, regardless of race, religion, country of origin.  Compassion is key.

The Death Spiral of America

This letter to the editor of the NYT commenting on the article about the upcoming G7 meeting is sadly spot on:

“…The world is fed up with our arrogance, our hypocrisy, our fecklessness, our phony baloney Christianity, our pedantic lecturing, our especially about human rights, which we practice selectively, our endless idiotic election cycles, our perpetual military misadventures and our infantile nutjob president and his neo fascist warmonger climate change denying political party. We have gone from the indispensable nation to a disposable pernicious dinosaur country…”

 

****

It is at once horrifying and fascinating to watch a once great nation turn to dust almost overnight, although I suppose the signs have been there for anyone who was willing to look deep enough. The enablers have been setting the stage for years.

We are now living through a time in history when every “truth” we thought we knew, every future we thought we’d be able to count on, is in question. The Constitution and our very democracy are in peril.  There are many whose very survival is in peril, as well.

Change, of course, is inevitable but usually it happens gradually and within a familiar context, giving us time to adjust. These days, however, the changes – and they all seem to be negative — are coming at us so rapidly,  it’s setting our collective equilibrium off-balance.  Depression and suicide are on the rise,  and not even the wealthy and successful are immune,  as we saw from this week’s deaths by their own hands of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. For many, the future is too terrifying to contemplate.

Most Americans have lived lives of relative comfort and security.  Even the poorest have had the cushion of public assistance, which granted isn’t much but better than having no assistance at all.  Even the poorest have had,  at least in theory,  the freedom and opportunity to rise.  This system is/was relatively unique in the history of mankind.  The notion of democracy, of people having a voice in their governance (well,  white male people, in any case), is only a few hundred years old.  Things like  Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid,  unemployment insurance, ostensible equal opportunities,  etc.  are inventions of the 20th century.  We got used to it, took it for granted,  assumed it was the natural order of things. We went about our relatively self-absorbed lives, paying little attention to those who wanted to take it all away.  We assumed our system of laws, of checks and balances, would hold.  Suddenly, they are in question.  There is a madman at the helm and those who  have the power to stop him are doing nothing.

The only thing that keeps me (relatively) sane these days is observing all this dramatic change and destruction from a historical perspective.  We are all just pawns, whether we resist or succumb.  We are but mere blips on the timeline of human history.  A hundred years from now, our individual lives will not matter one whit.  Yes, there will be heroes and villains, but they, like us, are tools of the universe.  What will be, will be.

This is not to suggest we do not continue to resist, to fight for our country, to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. We must continue to do what we must to save our liberty and our rights.  But I am taking a more circumspect view.  If I am caught up in the destruction, so be it. People in other places, in other times, have suffered and continue to suffer far worse oppression and tragedies. Who am I to think I have a natural right to a perfect and/or privileged life, just because it has been so thus far?  I accept that the Universe does not owe me that.  I have found letting go of that expectation to be strangely comforting.

 

Bait and Switch

A tangled web: Elliot Broidy, Shera Bechard, and Donald Trump. Photo: WWD/Rex/Shutterstock; Getty

More Evidence that Broidy was Covering for Trump in Affair

It has always been my impression, also,  as asserted in the above NYMag article, that Broidy was covering for Trump; taking the fall for him to protect the cartoon Caligula’s “pristine reputation.”  For someone who paid $1.4 mil in hush money to cover up a supposed affair and subsequent abortion, it’s pretty suspicious that Broidy came clean about it the instant a reporter inquired.

No lies. No “no comment”. No avoidance of the question or the reporter.  No hemming and hawing or offering up some ridiculous alternative explanation. No nervousness or fear or anger at having been outed. Just an immediate, “Yup, it was me. So what?”  Considering how much he paid to cover up this supposed affair,  he was awfully flip about it been discovered.  In fact, he seemed almost proud about it,  as if he were digging the fantasy that people might now believe he had the mojo to seduce and impregnate a Playboy model.  (I expect that was a side benefit to him for this arrangement.)

This New York Magazine explanation makes FAR more sense.

But in the end, what difference does it make?  No aspect of the affair was illegal. The only reason for Trump to cover an abortion was to protect his standing with the so-called Christian Right  (who are neither Christian, nor right.  Discuss…)
But the Evangelicals aren’t going to abandon him now.  They are in far too deep.  Their fortunes are inexorably linked to his.
It’s quite impressive, really,  the Olymplic-level moral gymnastics they are capable of when it comes to Orange  Cheesus. He could literally murder a pregnant parishioner during a church service, eat her fetus in front of the entire congregation,  make toothpicks out of the cross and pick his teeth in his underwear while reclining on the pulpit, and they’d still find a way to be OK with that.
P.S.  Just look at Ms. Bechard.  She looks very much like Stormy.  And Ivanka.  Trump has a very specific type, and she’s it.