Under Pressure, or, Notes from a disabled submarine at crush depth
There is a reason that I don’t post much nowadays. OK: Two. First, I’m semi-retired after writing a blog averaging over a thousand words a day for ten years. Day in and day out. But the second is most important: In the hurricane of a tsunami of an earthquake of sheer madness flying our way, I’m too busy dodging the legendary brown stuff to poke my head above the ramparts right now.
The metaphor is no longer the boiling frog. The proper metaphor is that we are in a disabled diving bell, drifting slowly to the bottom of the Marianas Trench. And the cracks have started to appear in the windows.
i. Of the Germans, it was said that they would blindly follow the ‘man on a horse’; of Republicans, this still holds true, save that they only require the horse’s ass …
The Russian hacking scandal (that I told you about when it was generally sneered at) and investigation has produced a level of cognitive dissonance scarcely seen outside of an epileptic planarian. Even the Democrats are not immune:
Sources: Oprah Winfrey ‘actively thinking’ about running for president
Brian Stelter / CNNMoney
Oprah Winfrey in 96 seconds — Oprah Winfrey is “actively thinking” about running for president, two of her close friends told CNN Monday. — The two friends, who requested anonymity in order to speak freely …
Sure, it was a fine speech, but are we NUTS?* The problem is NOT that we elected the WRONG TV star! The problem is that we elect TV stars and not political stars (e.g. statesmen and stateswomen.) To pit one TV star against another TV star is to completely and profoundly miss the point. And, naturally, this speculation will give our American press corpse another excuse to spill barrels of ink and slaughter hectares of trees rather than actually report actual news. Not that we have any news, to listen to American media.
[* The story dominates the blogosphere, as I write this.]
But watch foreign media, France24, Al Jazeera, BBC, Sky News, and it turns out that the world is melting down while we obsessively follow the tantrums of America’s Own Id, the Enfant Terrible, the Grandest Narcissist of All Time, According to the Narcissist himself, naturally. The level of international instability ought to alarm us, even as America’s collective intelligence and international policy sinks supinely into the mud. Never has the Last Remaining Superpower been needed more, and never has it been more profoundly dazed and confused.
And now we move into the most dangerous of end games. While taunting and belittling the unstable dictator of North Korea — a fellow delighted with his brand new, shiny nuclear weapons — El Cheeto has loosed his GOP goons on … the FBI. On the Justice Department, on the Clinton Foundation (welcome to our Third World Banana Republic, kiddies!), and continually on the Free Press.
If a book doesn’t meet with his approval, he calls it “fake.” (Hilarious, given that he himself “wrote” a ghost-written book himself, a far more viable candidate for the term “fake book.”) Which doesn’t even meet the smell test. It is a real book. Nothing in it may be true, but it is epistemologically and self-evidently a BOOK. A “fake” book is a publisher’s dummy, most often seen at trade shows, consisting of a cover wrapped around a book-sized slab of styrofoam or kindred filler material. They used to make them of light wood and as actual blank books.
A fitting summation of our existential crisis: We no longer can distinguish between fantasy and existence and that’s a crisis. It is the same crisis that causes children to safety-pin towels around their necks, and break legs and arms jumping off the barn to fly like Superman.
But we have nuclear weapons and the World’s Largest Military Machine™.
And the WLMM is now manned less by patriots than with mercenaries, and we have bases in 140+ countries out of 193. So, if the world melts down, we’re pretty much caught in the consequences, even though we’re now intellectually isolationist and are pretending that the USA acts in vacuo as we mindlessly back-bite in a congress incapable of passing necessary and useful legislation, of offering guidance to the administration and the courts, and unwilling to work together on any issue whatsoever.
The Administration reflects the iconoclasm (in the worst and most literal sense) of its head, the aforementioned Cheeto Monster.
Fiat lux! the madman shouts. And a dozen Palestinian children die.
128 nations chide us for the idiotic decision to unilaterally declare Jerusalem Israel’s capital, and we then THREATEN the 128 nations (with withholding of foreign aid) and cut the UN’s budget, in a year in which the UN is often the ONLY international humanitarian agency addressing unprecedented refugee and drought/cataclysm crises.
Many because of an anthropocentric global warming via greenhouse gases that an insanely “skeptical” GOPaganda machine denies and has made a canon of Republicanism and its devout core beliefs. While we’re on the subject, let’s take a moment to address that perfect skepticism:
To paraphrase Bertrand Russell: Perfect skepticism is perfectly impossible to refute and perfectly useless, to boot.*
[* “If we adopt the attitude of the complete sceptic, [sic, British spelling, you know] placing ourselves wholly outside all knowledge, and asking, from this outside position, to be compelled to return within the circle of knowledge, we are demanding what is impossible, and our scepticism can never be refuted. For all refutation must begin with some piece of knowledge which the disputants share; from blank doubt, no argument can begin. Hence the criticism of knowledge which philosophy employs must not be of this destructive kind, if any result is to be achieved. Against this absolute scepticism, no logical argument can be advanced. But it is not difficult to see that scepticism of this kind is unreasonable.” [emphasis added]
~ Bertrand Russell, THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY (1912)
CHAPTER XIV. THE LIMITS OF PHILOSOPHICAL KNOWLEDGE]
Oh, and the Moon Landing was faked by JFK who didn’t die at all, but is living with Amelia Earhart and Jimmy Hoffa.
Which brings us back to cognitive dissonance.
ii. Red States embrace former Reds without Remorse
We have seen the “follow the leader” GOPs and their GOPaganda arm, Faux Nooz™ et al, suddenly embrace the notion that the FBI and all parties investigating the Russian election interference scandal (which cannot BUT constantly revolve around the constellation “Treason”) must be discredited, smeared and destroyed in that charming RepubliKKKlan Rhetorical Rape™ that America has come to know and love so well. Because Dear Leader.
Which is as bizarrely weird as is the Evangelical* embrace of a man whose behavior and life story has been the very antithesis of scriptural Christianity.
[* Please note that I do not consider “Evangelicals” to be “Christians” since they embrace principles (e.g. Divine Biblical infallibility, the “Rapture” and “End Times” theology) that are not from the understood corpus of Christendom going back to the first Council of Nicea in 325 AD. And, ironically, neither can they embrace nor recite the “Nicene” (or Apostles) Creed, which is, when you study the actual history of it, the actual litmus test and loyalty oath for being a “Christian.” The Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and all major Protestant denominations subscribe to close variants of the Creed. This is a matter of scholarship and not denomination. All the faith in the world can’t make a lie the truth. ]
And the anti-science, anti-reason forces that form the id of the GOP are in bizarre accord that stomping out an investigation into foreign interference in US elections is more important than the notion of national sovereignty or territorial integrity, WHICH THEY ALSO EMBRACE as articles of GOP-pian faith. Else, why the so-called “wall”? The Muslim travel ban? The virulent and ofttimes vicious hatred of immigrants, Latinos (in general, although pretended as against “illegals”) and the Islamic faith?
The original “Gerry-mander” — mocking a Massachusetts
congressional district engineered to advantage signer
of the Declaration of Independence Elbridge Gerry, who
would later serve as 5th Vice President under Madison
The cognitive dissonance and internal contradictions of the Gerrymandered Party (in Virginia, Democrats took the 2017 election 55% to 45% but failed to take control of the legislature, thanks to a sympathetic judge and a game of chance) have become so deep and so primal that the very term “Republican thought” has all but become an oxymoron — or a fantastical mythological beast, as “Liberal Republican” became in my youth.
And so this internal civil war to suppress what increasingly seem incontrovertible (and, therefore, uncomfortable) facts.
For a party of self-proclaimed Über-patriots, this seems impossible, but then, the arc of the Republican party history since Ray-Gun seems long, but it has bent towards insanity. Trillion and a half deficits are OK for business and One Percent tax cuts, but a trillion dollars for American infrastructure (that, ironically, the One Percent and businesses make the lion’s share use of) is absurd and un-doable. Magic money exists, in other words, when WE want it, but if it’s for ANY OTHER REASON, including the health, safety and general welfare of Americans, then it’s HORRIBLE and un-doable. Magic money can’t exist for it.
A strange magic.
They will FIGHT TO THE DEATH over imaginary babies, but real babies are moochers and social parasites deserving of whatever poverty or illness afflicts them by virtue of the sins of their parents (our new American Calvinism). Etcetera. Etcetera. The nature of carrying multiple self-contradictory articles of “faith” manifests itself, increasingly, in inchoate rage and hatred and erratic and contradictory policies. The government is the enemy. The government is the tool to achieve “our” social policy ends.
Police are good when killing Blacks, but dangerous jack-booted thugs when arresting white conservatives.
The IRS is an evil agency collecting taxes-are-theft taxes. But we must have stable financing and no one is above the law and why don’t we close all those AWFUL tax LOOPHOLES and set-asides for the rich? (And the new tax code closes virtually all tax “loopholes” for the middle-class. Like, say, charitable deductions. I was thinking of donating my truck to Public Radio, but I now realize that there will BE no tax advantage for me since I didn’t donate in 2016. Watch for the charitable meltdown to come. You heard it here first.)
Today, the (REALLY REALLY) White House reversed an old compassionate policy and informed 200,000 Salvadoran (El Salvadore, of the Reagan-era Death Squads) refugees have until 2019 to GET OUT of the USA. This is just the latest in Trump’s anti-immigration/anti-refugee policy. More to come.
So we hate immigrants and refugees.
And the Bundy case was thrown out of court today, so it’s OK to wave guns at Federal agents both in Oregon and in Nevada. So we HATE Federal agents charged with protecting federal lands and borders, TOO. (As I’ve noted before, the Bundys may well turn out to be our modern John Browns in the sense of precipitating the free-standing hostility out there into armed insurrection.)
iii. Kindergarten Recess and Western Snivelization
From top to bottom, our government has become polarized and self-contradictory. Jackboots stomp but it only matters according to one’s political party. Our families are sundered from the polarization. Our friendships are constrained by two utterly different and utterly incompatible world-views. And it becomes increasingly obvious that THERE IS NO ROAD BACK from our deep polarization that does not involve blood and fire.
And to those who think I’m “advocating violence” please note that predicting the sunrise in no wise advocates sunrises, disparages sunsets nor denies the possibility of the moon.
I’m just the messenger.
But it is not a message that I enjoy or even want to bring.
Every day the pressure increases. Trump becomes, increasingly, a cornered and wounded animal as the investigation brings to light matters he was certain (as noted in the Michael Wolff bo0k) would never come to light, since he never expected to win the election. And that scares hell out of me. Any hunter knows that a wounded and/or cornered animal is the most dangerous animal of all. “Even a worm will turn,” goes the ancient truism.
And the pressure increases in Eastern Europe. Africa. Asia. South America. Even Mexico, for that matter. And, of course, at home.
When the crush happens, no one knows, but no thoughtful person can doubt that it lies ahead unless some astonishing and impossible miraculous change of direction suddenly brings worldwide kumbaya and balmy weather, except in the poles, where so much ice freezes suddenly that sea levels actually drop.
And if you expect that, please hold your breath until it happens.
For the rest of us, we can only cower in the continual rending and squealing noises of metal under incredible, dooming pressure.
So, would Oprah be a good presidential candidate? Aargh.