Wednesday, January 20, 2021

How It Ends

Smoke And Ghosts

Fuk Off To The Sea

A king, who had brought suffering and disaster to his people, finally died. His funeral was attended by massive crowds from all corners of the nation, who in almost complete silence walked past the funeral bier of the Great Leader.

Observing the crowds was an ambassador from another country, surprised by what he was witnessing. He said to his secretary, "This bastard treated his people as chattel, lied to them, and when the plague descended he did nothing but lie and steal from them -- and yet they come to grieve!" His secretary replied, "They come, not to grieve, but to make absolutely certain he truly is dead."

Over 200,000 new cases of SARS-CoV2, and two and three thousand deaths from complications of the disease, are reported in America every day. 

It's easy to forget that it didn't have to come to this. ~ 400,000 People dead; many more will suffer 'Long Covid' effects. The number of deaths, the suffering and anguish, amplified by the incompetence and sociopathology of The Leader -- still screeching that the election was stolen from him; that the nation is "angry"; adding the veiled threat that this is a "dangerous" time.

Long ago, I interviewed persons who had interacted regularly with Hitler, for an academic writing project. Later, under different circumstances, I located and interviewed members of a particularly vicious cult with a violent end.

My questions varied -- but in essence they were all the same: How did it happen? Why did you assist someone so clearly disturbed, so incapable of real empathy, so capable of bringing about real evil? I never received a common answer; don't think I really expected to find one.

In the past four years, there hasn't been a single day that I haven't asked about The Leader: He's a bully, a liar, a grifter; he's mentally ill. He denied reality, now 400,000 people are dead; the United States is more fragile than it's been since 1860; how can you believe in -- this malignant thing ??

No one has been able to provide an answer to that question about The Leader. He appealed to the some of the worst aspects of human nature. The Leader enabled people to be cruel, violent; to believe obvious lies, and to hate. That's his legacy.

And, I will not speak or write his name. Not any longer. Let him Fuck Off To The Sea.

Last Acts: The Leader was busy after the election. Loyal satraps like Graham and Giuliani made calls to Republican officials in swing states, nosing around to see how amenable they were to a little election fraud (none were). There were baseless lawsuits; bizarre conspiracy theories. In early December, several meetings were held at the White House to discuss tactics in contesting, even overthrowing, the election which may or may not have included a Proud Boy leader or two.

In late December, The Leader himself repeatedly called the Georgia Secretary of State, who ducked all but the eighteenth attempt. He pressured the man to commit election fraud. The Secretary recorded the call, and released it to the media. It was clear The Leader, a week from the Congress' accepting the votes of the Electors and certifying Biden's victory, was still in utter denial about losing the election.

On January 6, Congress was in session to certify the Elector's votes. At the same time, The Leader spoke to an extremely large crowd -- many brought to Washington on chartered busses paid for by Koch groups, donations from individuals (like Ginny Thomas, wife of a Supreme Court Justice). Standing behind a podium bearing the Presidential seal, The Leader primped and pranced; he savored the energy of a crowd of tens of thousands. 

He essentially told them to march to the Capitol. Whatever happened, would happen. After his speech, he didn't do what he'd promised, and walk to the Capitol with them. He returned to the White House and watched televised images of the mob he had created in action, as it unfolded. He was 'delighted', 'pleased'. 

The Leader Makes A White Power Hand Gesture To Adoring Masses

When some in his inner circle suggested the riot was "bad optics", The Leader became angry and sullen. When Congressional Republicans made panicked calls from lockdown inside the Capitol, some approached The Leader to suggest he make a statement. Defuse the situation, end the violence.

A request was made from the Congressional leaders at the Capitol: bring Washington, D.C.'s National Guard units in (as D.C. is not a state, only the President can release them). The Leader's swinish eyes narrowed, his mouth slumped into a busted, downturned scrawl in the ochre pudding of his face. He refused. 

Then, when it was clear the riot had already resulted in 'bad optics', aides convinced him to make a video statement, delivered in a wooden voice after the riot ended -- and even then, he still said the election was stolen, describing his supporters were "special... we love you", but that they should go home now.

Long After The Riot Ended, A Call For Healing, Sort Of

The next day, after the roll of dead had risen to two police officers (one dead of injuries received at the Capitol; the other a suicide) and four of the rioters, The Leader released another video, speaking from a podium in an even more detached, emotionless voice, he urged peace and condemned the violence. It was just for show, and everyone knew it.

He spoke of "handing over power to a new administration", and ended by saying to his True Followers, "I want you to know that the movement we started is only just beginning; there's never been anything like it... will only grow stronger by the day." 
... Trump taped a short video calling on Americans to act peacefully following pressure to do so from Vice President Pence, daughter Ivanka Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner and other advisers. Trump later told aides that he regretted doing it and that his supporters did not like the video, two officials said. (Washington Post)
At the same time, the White House's flag was not lowered to half-staff in honor of the Capitol PD officers, though nearly every other U.S. flag in Washington had been.

Aside from the shock of the violence -- that a rightist mob would break into the Capitol, pushed by The Leader, enabled and coddled (even assisted) by Republicans in Congress, is important. Using a threat of violence to compel a deliberative body to overturn national election results is crossing a significant red line. 

One week later, The Leader was Impeached on a single Article: incitement to insurrection. The far right chitters with threats and continued radicalization, feeling they have nothing to lose, hoping for their fabled Boo Galoo.

Watching the White Riot unfold via streaming video from outside the Capitol building, I sensed the same spontaneous Shit-Happens energy that I remember from long-ago mass antiwar actions. The energy of the crowd as it rushed up to the Capitol seemed like video of the 2004 tsunami in Sumatra: the ocean surge, initially laps on shore, just a few inches of water. Then it became a foot of water, pulsing more urgently; and suddenly, the ocean is flooding in without stopping, now four or five feet and rising. 

This is what revolutions feel like; we're soaking in it.

It's likely there was a smaller organized group, or groups, inside the Capitol with a specific agenda, hidden by the cover of a mass disturbance. The march had been organized a month before; plenty of time to research and plan; that should surprise no one. 

This is The Leader's legacy, too. I don't feel I am living in a country where, no matter what, we're all Americans. I think -- just as the MAGAs do -- that The Other Side will stop at nothing to destroy the country. The White Riot was just a sample, "only the start... getting stronger by the day".

But, together with the Covid pandemic -- the White Riot and feelings that we can no longer trust each other may be the impetus for an expansion of the American security state: Patriot Act 2.0. As with 9-11, it's too good an opportunity to lose.

Meanwhile, our Oligarchs running social media, the Oligarchs that own news and entertainment networks, pay no penalty for hooking suckers on lies and dopamine. They become richer and richer, and claim innocence; 'free expression' 'free speech'.  And every day, angry Cletuses are radicalized to hate, and envy, and to dream of revenge.

If I have to see Mark Zuckerberg's smooth, Aspergerish face one more time, sputtering about how his poorly-led corporation is unfairly blamed for assisting societal dissolution, I'll throw up.

Peter Wehner, Republican New York Times contributor who wrote on November 5, 2016 about what The Leader's presidency would be like, appeared on PBS News Hour last night to observe
We're in an epistemic crisis... there has been an assault on truth and on reality, that [The Leader] has led, and his party was a part of, and his Base was a part of. We now live in a world where we don't just have policy differences -- we're living in different moral universes, different epistemological universes; we don't have a common set of facts, even a common reality. And when you lose that, it's very difficult to put it back together again... 
But if you don't... a free country can't continue. Ultimately, your politics breaks down and your society breaks down... there's no ability to have dialogue. [The Leader] did this... it wasn't just the lies; it was this intentional assault on reality, which ...spreads a kind of disorientation in the public that has tremendously damaging and long-term effects.
Wehner's opinions ignore the development of the American Right since 1974 towards authoritarianism, 'christian' Dominionism and (with the Leader) proto-fascism. It also ignores the devolution of both Republican and Democratic parties into extensions of a neoliberal, globalist perspective, which benefits a limited number of people with wealth. 

Being in America, now, is like walking into a crime scene. The victim is still here; blood and numbered cards for the photographers still dot the floor. There are witnesses to interview, security camera video to review, leads to pursue. If you have to throw up, do it outside.

And, there's a weird calm hanging over everything that only seems to appear in the wake of incredible violence. You go about your business, live your life, with the knowledge of what has happened hovering just behind everything, like smoke; like ghosts.

It's a great relief to see The Leader deposed, no longer with any legitimate authority.  I do not wish him well, or his Issue, or his Base.

Where the Biden administration will take us, no one knows. May all of us be well, and safe.

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