Thursday, September 2, 2021

Bad Moon

The Present Is Prologue

Texas Volk Hail Their Victory

It doesn't matter whether the authors, supporters of the 'Heartbeat Act' in Texas expect it to stand against narrow legal challenges, or even as a Constitutional challenge to abortion law. It doesn't particularly matter how the Act fits into a long, "death of a thousand cuts" strategy of Right-wing attacks against Roe. Its provisions don't only decimate reproductive rights for women. 

The Act weaponizes vigilantism to allow Texas citizens, Americans, to exercise control over other American citizens -- as it relates to providing, receiving or 'aiding and abetting' abortion procedures for women in the state. 

It encourages any Texan to seek up to $10,000 in civil damages against abortion providers, clinic staff; Uber drivers; relatives, family members; supportive clergy – anyone they claim is a defendant, as defined by the Act. And, a lawsuit doesn't have to be filed where alleged acts took place. It can be filed in any county in the state -- for example, in a deep Red Texas district, with  judges sympathetic to The Cause.

There are already Tip Line websites set up -- to help zealous, god-fearing citizens to inform on whomever they claim to suspect of anti-state activity. 

Join The Team. Send An Anonymous Tip. 

Meritless lawsuits have always been with us; but this provides state support for any citizen to harass and threaten another, in furtherance of an ideologically-driven law. It goes far beyond a challenge to Roe. It codifies tactics of stalking and intimidation used by the Right for decades. In law, it's absolutely unprecedented -- but not in History.

History's examples of whole populations cowed and manipulated by the violence of a minority, supported and financed by a class of wealth, are too numerous to count.

Yesterday, Texas also passed a separate law which allows "all Texans to own guns and to carry them in public, without a license and without training.”

Also yesterday, Jair Bolsonaro, fascist populist leader of Brazil, told his supporters to buy and stockpile guns against a future conflict with hated liberals and Leftists -- "Only the stupid person will store food," he said. "Smart ones get guns."

The Past Is Present Tense

This is what happens: after the election in November of 2000, and over the thirteen years I've been sporadically writing this blog, decline and dissolution in America have been both easier to see but more difficult to convince people to believe -- we're Frogs, and the water has taken a long time to heat.

(Via The Soul Of America) here is Adolph Reed: "The right-wing ... [has] a single concrete objective—taking absolute power in the U.S. as soon and as definitively as possible. And [they] even seemingly want, to destroy the social fabric of the country [in taking power] ...

"Discrediting government ... has been a component of the GOP game plan ..  and Democrats have reinforced [that] in their own way. ...Four decades of retrenchment and privatization ... steadily increasing economic inequality and government’s failure to address it in any meaningful way [fuels a] lack of confidence, distrust, and hostility toward government ... and eventually even the idea of the public itself.  And [Right-wing billionaires who] bankroll the ultraright have taken advantage of that, [stoking] frustration and rage into a dangerously authoritarian political force."

I kept track of events, but nothing I read or watched surprised me much -- a stupid and dangerous position, since it meant ignoring experience and abandoning better judgement.  I'd grown up in the Fifties and Sixties; saw Southeast Asia personally. In the Seventies I studied history, focusing on Europe --  Germany in particular -- between the wars: Weimar, and what came after. 

I was someone who knew things, but coasted along believing the High School Civics Class view of America -- the long national Narrative of an America, not perfect, but on a constant upward (and of course, liberal) arc into an inevitable, enviable future. Even Vietnam was a tragedy beyond measure but a regrettable episode, a blip, in that long view. 

And during Watergate, Liberals rejoiced: America's Great Silent Majority was wrong. Their hero, Nixon, was a Crook -- but he was an aberration in the American Narrative; an exception, and the political Right was, too: the Fringe, on the wrong side of history. Easily dismissed. The future would be a moderate Liberal culture. 

Sure. Of course it would be.

Now, nearly 50 years later, the grandchildren of the Silent Majority are back. They're bully-mean in their MAGA caps and January 6, 2021 - Civil War T-Shirts, and they see the world through small, piggish eyes, and they hate you.

They hate Colored people and Foreigners, and Eggy-heads, and Libs and Gay and Trans People and E-lites. The weak and the soft.  They love god; yes they do (somebody's god, anyway), and America. They have guns and carry them -- and you have nothing to fear, so long as you do what they and their leaders say. 

It is the Purity of their Strength; it is Blood and Soil; and they will sing 'Amazing Grace' in celebration after they dump your battered corpses in some nameless field.


Disease and climate deterioration are at the top of the list of conditions which frighten me. But what is happening now in America makes me believe we are close to something horrific: Our own version of the world after Weimar, and What Comes Next. 

We've already had a four year taste of what that could be -- and we've had an attempted coup. That we can have another is ignored by the DOJ, and Biden's government.

 When I submit to fear, I see my country being dominated -- by the malignant, the vicious, the bestial -- with no cure except The Fire, Next Time; and no guarantee that where it leads will be a happy ending. That this is the same worldview of those people I revile on Twitter as Thugs and Cletuses.

Could America disintegrate into an even more obvious Oligarchy, like the old Soviet Union? Into warlords, criminal gangs, armed militias like Lebanon, like Syria? Could it become Atwood's Republic of Gilead? No one knows. 

But I feel sure we can't continue down the same road we've been travelling without penalties we can't imagine, at the mercy of being blown apart by another natural disaster, another Covid variant; the whims of a Rebecca Mercer, or Steve Bannon, or The Murdochs.

Our old National Narrative says America is too diverse, has too high a standard of living to fail. On the other hand, History is littered with empires, cultures, which believed they were too strong to collapse.

George Packer (author of The Unwinding) recently noted in The Atlantic that America's national Narrative is a string of crises -- Our Story being 'how we got out of it' -- and that we now have not one unified Story of America; we have four. The one now on display in Texas, in my view, only leads out a one-lane gravel road to the cemetery. 

"The issues Trump had campaigned on waxed and waned ...What remained was the dark energy he unleashed... Trump’s people still talked about freedom, but they meant blood and soil. Their nationalism was like the ethno-nationalisms on the rise in Europe ... Trump abused every American institution ... and his people cheered. Nothing excited them like owning the libs."

People can write opinion pieces calling out lying and bullying by the political Right but it makes no difference. We can wonder if Congressional Republicans violated ethics rules, or if McCarthy violated federal law (threatening U.S. companies over the Senate panel inquiry into 1/6), and it will not matter. 

Their behavior -- McConnell's corruption; Gaetz' degeneracy; Cawthorn's flirting with threats of civil war and Boebert's intimations of physical violence; Greene's barely coherent lying -- are their badges of honor. Anything is permitted in Owning The Libs -- including sedition and treason. 

If you need proof that we do not live in a country with rule of law, consider: There was no penalty for their support of a coup on January 6th. There will be no punishment for them now, or ever. 

I recently saw a video of an anti-masker, anti-vaxxer, holding a list of names and addresses of the local Board of Supervisors in his area, shouting at a small rally. The Board was preparing to vote on a mask mandate; this person held up the list of names and was literally screeching (I'll paraphrase), "We know where you [Supervisors] live! We're going to be at your front door -- we're coming for you!" Asked what would happen if the Board voted for a mandate, he shouted back, "Civil war!! Civil war!! Get your guns!!"  

This isn't some extremist, Fringe element, like John Birchers of the 1960's, spouting rhetoric that will never go further than a street corner. America's Right wing is pushing for confrontation -- but not one ending in reconciliation and an end to division. They want to "take America back". They want a final confrontation -- bloody, retributive; like a battle on the plains of Armageddon. 

What's happening now can't lead to any other conclusion. America's political Right is a madman with a gun, who keeps taking one step towards you, then another and another -- all while screaming Don't get any closer!! I'm warnin' ya!! I told ya to stop comin' at me!! And, when he finally shoots you: See what you did?? You Libs made me do it!! Told ya!! Told ya!!

Something will happen. That seems inevitable. It's what the Red-caps have been told by their leaders should happen, after The Steal (reminds me of a monument, erected by the nazis in the 1930's at the border with Danzig: Remember, Germans, What Blind Hatred Has Stolen from Thee). And the rich Bundists who've bankrolled the Right want it, too; they can be Oligarchs without apology in the Brave New World, after. The Murdochs will be able to sell so much advertising time.

And when it happens, it will have to be an act of high drama. Something for the cameras. Wannabe 'patriots', and wealthy Bundists, need a historic spectacle to justify what they're about to do; a glorious event that fits with their political Narrative: they're about to become Founding Fathers. 

Even if it develops from some mundane incident, when the Right seizes their opportunity (remember, they're looking for it), the Event will be more seriously executed than January 6th. The lines crossed on that day will have to lead to the immediate subjugation of America and its citizens, or its dissolution in a hot civil war. These are the choices.

Ian Welsh (who sees Texas as a harbinger of collapse; Welsh is compassionate towards persons but doesn't care much for 'America' -- perhaps this is wishful thinking on his part): "[enactment of the Texas law] is the thin edge: what’s coming to Texas now will be coming to you very soon. Roe vs. Wade is doomed; Republican Trumpists are taking over the party apparatus to ensure the next coup attempt succeeds, and Democrats are doing nothing to stop any of this... 

"The best case scenario is probably the US splitting peacefully. That will be unfortunate for those left-behind, but it beats the entire country falling, or a civil war."

UND MEHR, NOCH EINMAL VON ADOLPH REED:  "I know that many liberals, and not a few leftists, will dismiss this account as wildly hyperbolic. Liberals have an abiding faith in the solidity of American democratic institutions... arguments demonstrating why a putsch can’t happen because it wouldn’t be in capital’s interests... But that’s why political scientists nearly all were caught flat-footed by the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

"To be clear, I’m not predicting the possible outcome I’ve laid out. My objective is to indicate dangerous, opportunistic tendencies and dynamics at work ... which I think liberals and whatever counts as a left in the United States have been underestimating or, worse, dismissing entirely. 

"If forced to bet, based on the perspective on American political history since 1980, or even 1964... I’d speculate that the nightmare outline I’ve sketched is between possible and likely, I imagine and hope closer to the former than the latter."

UND AUCH EIN WIEDERHOLENIt's worth repeating this, by Umair Haque, from 2018.

Do your best; try to be kind; try to be courageous in service to others. Good luck.

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