Slimey to the Qth Power

I sat down on the ledge near the metro station just a couple of blocks away from Ben’s Chili Bowl. I was deep into the pleasure of a spicy half-smoke when I noticed someone (or something) plopping down beside me. Once more, my old friend Slimey appeared out of nowhere. For a 7′ tall reptile, he was able to move unbelievably silently and without drawing the attention you normally would expect from someone of his size.

“Greetings, friend” he hissed through his snout.

“Slimey, it has been far too long. What have you been doing with yourself?”  The last time I had seen Slimey, he had taken a position with a lobbying firm where he was trying to promote a fully-automated abattoir, aimed at eliminating the human interaction with the meat supply. I marveled to myself at how prescient that proposal was in light of the coronavirus outbreaks at meat packing facilities.  I asked Slimey, “Are you still with your lobbying firm?”

Slimey slowly shook his ponderous head. “No, I was unable to sell the idea about an automated slaughterhouse to the agencies. Imagine. The deep state actually thought humans were needed.”  He closed his eyes for a moment. “But in my new position, this idea has become really valuable”.

I took a bite of my half-smoke, then asked.  “What is your new position?”

Slimey’s face assumed an air of supreme satisfaction. “I’m working for Q now. I’m in charge of their next big assault into the public sphere.”

I shuddered. Q-Anon had grown in popularity by leaps and bounds, especially during the pandemic when so many folks had far too much time and far too good access to the internet where they could descend into innumerable rabbit holes. Finally, I could avoid the question no further and I asked, “What is the new Q theory?”

Slimey smacked his mouth a couple of times, then began. “There’s a new thing that Q will be reporting on. That thing with abducting the children and the elite distilling their blood to come up with their youth elixir? It just wasn’t revolting enough to draw in enough people. But this one, this one is a doozy.”  Slimey settled back onto the ledge, one enormous paw holding up his prodigious girth.

As often happened in my encounters with Slimey, I became aware of how vulnerable I was to a sudden swipe of his razor-sharp claws. Still, I summoned the courage to not be a species-intolerant person and continued the conversation. “What could you imagine that is worse than child abduction and harvesting?”

Slimey chuckled for a good half-minute before replying. Finally, he said “Imagine this. Instead of children being abducted, it is those who are wearing MAGA hats that are swept off of the streets. Once they disappeared, they are transported to one of my automated slaughterhouses, where they are stripped down to the bone. The meat? It goes to make certain sausage products.” He nodded towards the remains of my own half-smoke.  “I’m not gonna say one way or another, but you may be surprised by where we will claim this meat is going.”

I took one more look at my half-smoke, shuddered a bit, then laid it down on the ledge between us. I had to satisfy my curiosity, though. “Why do this? Why go onto such ridiculous extremes in order to keep the Q thing going?”

Slimey was glad to fill me in. “Of course, it’s the money. Do you know how much we are raking in with the social media posts? And then there’s the merchandise. Those Q posters and foam Q’s are just money plants, plants we keep on harvesting. None of this has to be true, it just has to be plausible enough to keep the clicks coming.”

For the first time in my encounters with Slimey, I found my anger and revulsion rising. “Do you mean to tell me that this entire Q thing is nothing more than an effort to make those at the top rich?”

“Why certainly. What else would it be? You don’t think any of us believe any of this crap, do you?” Slimey looked offended, tensed his limbs, and once again I took stock of the vulnerability of my position.

“I had hoped that was the case. I can’t believe that anyone with a lick of rationality would believe any of the stuff being posted in Q’s name, but after the events of the last few years, I have come to doubt my own sense of right and wrong.” 

Slimey looked satisfied with my answer. He seemed to relax back into leaning against the concrete ledge. He said, “It’s only been a few years since I moved out of the swamp, but it is amazing how much of a swamp I still find around me.

All I could do was nod in agreement.

He looked over at the remains of my half-smoke. “Are you going to eat that?” he asked.

“No. It’s yours if you want it.”

The remains of the half smoke were inhaled in that enormous snout with the reptilian teeth, paper wrapper and all.

The last episode with Slimey may be found here: evenabrokenclock.blog/2019/04/08/if-you-cant-beat-the-swamp-join-the-swamp/

You’ve Been Had (Part 3)

Treason drips off of the twitter fangs that inject his venom into the body politic of the nation. Hoax is bandied about as an explanation for anything unpleasant but true. The hypocrisy is blatantly displayed as word is disclosed about his real thoughts for those who serve and sacrifice for our country. Still, all of this matters not a whit to those who have drunk deeply of the Trump cult Kool-Ade.  They will still hold fast to their selection of someone who has shown himself to be totally incompetent at his job, as well as being so lazy he doesn’t even feign an effort at doing said job. All the while, his own words extol his own praise and discredits any attempt at criticism.

For nearly four years, we have been held hostage by the vagaries of this hulking wanna-be alpha male. All he’s learned over the years is how to bully others. That he has been successful at passing that off as leadership is beyond comprehension. Still, this year showed the logical conclusion of the folly this nation undertook when we elected a totally unqualified candidate whose sole skill was self-promotion. That self-promotion led many to believe the man was a master businessman. But, as has been said, anyone who can go bankrupt running a casino is not a paragon of business excellence. Over the decades, the failures of the Trump business plans have been strewn across the landscape.

Trump steaks, launched in 2007, discontinued in 2007. Product sold for all of 2 months.

Trump shuttle. Purchased from Eastern Airlines in 1989 for $365 million. Sold in 1991 to USAirways for about $100-110 million of Trump indebtedness.

Trump Taj Mahal – built in 1990 for $1.2 billion. Parent company Trump Entertainment Resorts filed for bankruptcy 4 times, in 1991, 2004, 2009, and 2014. All investment in this fiasco was lost.

Trump-branded buildings – due to the toxic nature of the Trump name, the affiliation with Trump has been removed from multiple buildings across the globe during the past few years. Examples include properties in Panama City, New York, and Toronto.

Trump vs. NFL – leading the New Jersey Generals, a team in the USFL, he convinced his fellow owners to go from a spring schedule, into a head-to-head battle with the NFL on a fall schedule. At the same time, the USFL engaged in an anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL, which the USFL won. Damages awarded? $1, although that was tripled under anti-trust law. The USFL folded shortly afterwards.  Now Donald did receive something of value out of this. Herschel Walker, the football star of the New Jersey Generals, spoke favorably of Donald at the 2020 Republican convention as one of his token Blacks.

Trump University – this bastardized version of a real estate / wealth management seminar provider began operations in 2005. It closed down in 2011, and subsequently was required to refund millions of dollars to its defrauded “students” who went through the seminars but obtained no useful information or skills.

The fantasy that Donald Trump spun was that of a maverick businessman who would bring fiscal discipline and a business sense to the nation’s government. Well, he was very prophetic about that – he has brought just as much business success to the nation’s balance sheet as he has brought to the properties and enterprises he owned and operated over the years. But then came the TV show, and he found the vehicle to reinvent himself. If you present yourself as a wealthy decisive businessman who could use his Midas touch to enrich anyone he came into contact with, then you could brush aside the reality of past failures. And as this nation became more and more disconnected from reality by insisting upon binging on reality TV, enough people believed to form the core of his followers.

It is not enough to decry the utter failure of this administration in dealing with its multiple crises. It instead is time to take stock of the totality of this charlatan’s work history, and pronounce the verdict on this nation upon selecting and being subjected to the governance of this gamma male.

You’ve Been Had.

This is unfortunately the third in a series of posts about Donald Trump’s administration I’ve written during his term in office. To see the other posts, see https://evenabrokenclock.blog/2017/11/20/youve-been-had/ and    https://evenabrokenclock.blog/2018/11/16/weve-been-had/.

The End Of The World, As We Know It

virus-1812092__340

To many, these times we live in are reminiscent of Götterdämmerung, the twilight of the Gods. Certainly that is the image presented at the abomination called the Republican National Convention. They see the changes our society has undergone as being so threatening to their way of life that they cling to a would-be autocrat who has leveraged their fear into a term as President. He now himself clings desperately to the power he has enjoyed, and is pushing all of the levers of that power in order to gum up the normal electoral process. To the group that believes their way of life and unchallenged superiority is indeed challenged, all tactics seem fair to ensure their continued grasp on power.

The 2016 election proved this. While the Democratic candidate won by 2% of the popular vote, due to the small state bias built into the electoral college, the Republicans won the office. They proceeded to rule based as if they had received a massive vote in favor of their policies, though vote really did go against them. Therefore, they knew it was imperative to provide the tools to ensure the changing demographics of this nation did not prevent their takeover of all of the reins of power. In a way, we were fortunate. This President was so ignorant of how government worked, that his first year’s efforts at neutering government were mainly failures. Think of how many different iterations of the Muslim ban came down the pike, only to be swatted away by the judicial branch. But unfortunately, those within the government were able to learn how the levers of power worked. And by the third year, they were capable of implementing the family separation policy. Oh, they didn’t have a way of reuniting families, but who cared?

In a way, it is remarkable that this nation has succeeded in using a single set of founding documents to navigate through the ensuing 2+ centuries. The Constitution has stretched enough to deal with the intervening crises that swirled through this country. But the events of this year have shown that continuing to rely solely upon the document that preceded the technological age, does not always work in the current era of globalized material and people flow, and instantaneous flow of both real and misinformation. When so many people simply refuse to accept what appears to be unambiguous scientific facts, it becomes impossible to conduct a purposeful discussion. This shows itself in so many folks refusing to believe that we are in a pandemic, denying that the outbreak of disease is anything more significant that a variant of the normal flu virus.

Though the current administration insists that the country of origin for the virus was fundamentally negligent in allowing the genii to escape, what happened early this year was what epidemiologists have known and feared would happen in a world interconnected by human and material flow. Before this year, very few people in the US could have identified Wuhan on the map, and even fewer knew that the city and its environs had 11 million residents. But the outbreak of a virus that exhibits high infectivity showed that it could not be contained within a single country. Soon outposts of the virus were set up in Italy, and thence migrated into the US. But of all of the nations hit by the first wave of the virus, it has only been the US that has not brought infections down below a simmering boil. The virus has shown that it is still present, and shows up in all locations where the guard is let down even for a moment.

But in the US, a confluence of events and trends have prevented us from ever bringing the virus under control. The US has never viewed it as necessary to have the Federal government serve as a backstop to private enterprise. So when it was necessary to shut down commercial life in order to reduce the spread of the virus, the mechanisms to provide financial support were creaky at best, balky and unworkable at worst. And now, those mechanisms have been exhausted, and this nation still is operating under the assumption that it is a moral failing that so many people cannot find work, rather than accepting that we are in a fundamentally different era. Then the strain of individual liberty fanatics insisted that any mandated protective acts were an infringement on constitutional rights. Even the simple, though uncomfortable practice, of wearing a face mask has become weaponized, and blood has been spilled in defense of the right to infect others.

Those who were convinced that the blood of Jesus would protect them against any infection were also convinced that the government was infringing against their first amendment rights by preventing them from worshiping in person. You can see time after time where ministers were insistent on holding services in person, even though those services spread disease and death. Indeed, the American desire for a divine miracle to protect the faithful is fully in evidence as a response to this pandemic. The viral particle doesn’t recognize religious denomination, or even if someone is or is not a religious adherent. It recognizes only the opportunity to colonize a new host and spread itself. It is a mindless automaton with only the genetic information inside of it to allow it to propagate.

If there is to be divine intervention, it is because the knowledge of humanity has allowed it to understand the genetic code of the enemy, and to effectively devise biological weaponry to defeat it. That can be manifested through effective treatments for the symptoms of the virus, but all hope is on one or more of the vaccines in clinical trial will be found to be:  1) Effective at preventing infection through activation of the immune system, and 2) Able to provide this immunity without adverse side effects. Indeed, the rapidity at which vaccines have been shepherded into phase 3 trials has been amazing. But due to the same tendency within this nation to reject science and any uncomfortable challenges to beliefs, even when a vaccine is released to the population, a sizable fraction will refuse to take it. Whether it is due to fears unleashed by the anti-vaxxers, or whether it is the belief that the entire virus episode has been a New World Order conspiracy, there will be enough who refuse to take the vaccine that it will still circulate within the population, causing infection, and illness, and preventable death.

The upcoming election does offer the opportunity to return to a semblance of normality. Whether enough of the electorate will recognize that the Federal response to this virus represents a natural outgrowth of the belief system of this administration remains to be seen. The ignorance of the American public can never be overestimated. Let us hope that incompetence can be seen for what it is – a natural consequence of selecting a con man four long years ago.

Mad As Hades

angry man is screaming
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”  The words of Paddy Chayefsky in the movie Network resonate through the decades since that movie was released in 1976. The words ring true today. The tag line fueled my imagination as I realized a few of the things I’m as mad as hell about in this day.

I’m as mad as hell about the total incompetence of our Federal government in addressing the viral pandemic racing across the country virtually unchecked. Failures happened in destroying the infrastructure set in place by his predecessor to detect and respond to this future event. Failures happened in pretending that the virus would disappear of its own accord, and besides, it was hitting Democratic states harder than Republican states, so why bother creating a national strategy. Failures in taking responsibility for any of these failures.

I’m mad as hell about the total incompetence of the administration in realizing that the world is truly interconnected, and we as a nation cannot take our ball and go home and expect that the rest of the world will be there for us if and when we need them. About the destruction of relationships with other nations and with international organizations.

I’m mad as hell about the willful ignorance and subsequent stupidity exhibited by this administration when it comes to anything requiring applying a scientific perspective. It was bad enough when it involved ignoring any inconvenient truths about global warming. It was bad enough when it involved assigning unqualified personnel to leadership positions in Federal departments where knowledge of science was required. But with the response to the pandemic, we have really seen how the disdain that this administration holds for science has and will cost hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths.

I’m mad as hell about the petty grifting and blatant hypocrisy demonstrated by this administration, beginning with the example from the top. From the very start of this administration where the Trump hotel became the necessary venue for all who wished to make a visible display of financial support, to the recent revelation that the ambassador to Great Britain tried to strong arm the British to awarding a British Open to a Trump property, it has been apparent that everything is good that plows money back into the Trump business empire. And then the hypocrisy involved in declaring that it was so much worse in the previous administration. All of this manifests itself in a cabinet embroiled in personal petty privilege, whether through chartering private planes on the public’s dime, or driving around in a limousine in search of just that special lotion while department employees were paid as drivers

I’m mad as hell about the belief that this President had that it would only be a minor matter to staff and handle the transition between administrations. The belief that you don’t need to fill all of the available positions in the government. The belief that you could put your incompetent son-in-law in charge of intractable problems that had evaded solutions for decades and expect success due to force of personality alone. About the belief that he and Chris Cristie could go out after the night of the election and take care of the transition by themselves.

I’m mad as hell about the narcissism and thin-skinned nature of this President. About how his vindictiveness extends beyond the grave, so that he continues to denigrate the memory of those who stood up to him who have since died. About how he could not stand to see any accomplishment of his immediate predecessor left standing, so he has gone out of his way to destroy any trace of the previous administration. About how he has to be right, and can never ever admit making a mistake, since admitting a mistake shows your weakness.

I’m mad as hell about the racism unleashed by this President. About how the example he has set has freed a nasty strain within America to feel enabled and entitled to declare their hatred for anything other than lily-white ‘Muricans. About how when presented with support from a misogynistic racist like David Duke, he will feign ignorance of him and welcome the support. About how he has learned to stoke the fear and hatred that had lain dormant under the surface by trumping up the risk from asylum seekers.

I’m mad as hell that even after seeing the complete and utter disaster of this administration for nearly four years, there are still 40% of the voting public who think he’s doing a remarkable job for them, and they will go to their coronavirus graves still supporting this incredibly poor excuse for a human, much less the leader of the free world. Hell, had he his choice, he’d lead the nation of sub-human slaves as they marched in goosestep unison past his Presidential mansion. After all, he’s done such a wonderful job we just have to keep him in office.

Excuse me while I retch into the porcelain altar.

Darwin In Plain Sight

virus-1812092__340

To all those who do not believe in evolution as a guiding force for life in the world, I submit that the recent spate of incidents showing the reluctance of “conservatives” to wearing face masks presents a rare opportunity to see evolution in action. Will we see the portion of the population that believes in science ending up with an evolutionary advantage in being able to propagate their genes better than those who claim a constitutional right to march macho and bare-faced through the world? Many who decry the wearing of “face diapers” are far beyond the age of propagation, but it is clear that many of the younger generation are following the example of their elders, and are crowding into bars, and onto beaches.

Look, when I was in college, the lure of drunken parties was strong. There were parties advertised down in the cave at the southwest edge of town, where I managed one night to stumble home safely by following the railroad tracks. I was indeed fortunate to not fall victim to a steel chariot that would have borne me to the netherworld. I also survived the disco era, when bars were packed so tightly you had to turn sideways in order to avoid committing sexual assault. I know the appeal of these venues. But this is truly a once in a century pandemic, where it is necessary to believe in the power of microscopic viruses that defy detection by any normal means.

And thus the evolutionary challenge. To believe in science, with its dependence upon statistical trials demonstrating efficacy of treatments, or to not believe in science. Those who do not believe in the scientific method are prone to believe in anecdotal evidence hawked by those who use the internet to spread their own brand of phony facts. We will see whether there is actually a difference in the survival rates between these competing belief systems. My money is on those who do believe in science winning.

Into this discussion, a columnist from the New York Times brings up research that reveals why we may have this dichotomy of beliefs between liberals and conservatives. Thomas B. Edsall wrote a column titled “The Whole of Liberal Democracy Is in Grave Danger in This Moment” on July 22. He cites many papers and studies from social scientists, but the gist of his findings is that those who use facts and data to form their opinions tend to be more liberal, whereas those who are reluctant to change their opinions even when faced with contrary data tend to be more conservative. The whole of the column is damning against the conservative side of the culture wars, suggesting that the trend towards authoritarianism currently expressed by right-leaning political movements across the world can lead to the extinguishing of liberal democracy. Studies are cited that claim liberals tend to be more expressive in their writings, using complex words and thoughts to provide more nuance. Conservatives, it is claimed, use simpler and more absolute statements of fact that allow their followers to have absolute certainty in their beliefs, regardless of any evidence to the contrary.

I tend to agree with the surveys that are quoted. In my own experience, it can be extremely difficult to engage in a substantive discussion with someone whose mind is closed to contrary evidence. I remember a member of my church choir, who in a huge misreading of my beliefs, said at the dawn of this administration that it was good to finally have an alpha male in charge. He must have felt I would agree with that assessment. At the time, I believe I called the soon-to-be inaugurated President an epsilon male instead of an alpha male. But I have no doubt that the person I was discussing this with felt no need to even consider my opinion as being worthy.

I do have a problem with the way the data was presented in the column, though. It provides fodder for those who decry the elites who think they are better than the common folks. Well, that is undoubtedly true. Those who have more education believe that their thought processes are more capable than those who just accept what is being spoon fed to them by their media masters. So this NYT column (if it were read at all by those of a conservative bent) would reinforce their beliefs that the elites of the world are against those who have common sense.

Look, there is a reason why Rush Limbaugh popularized the use of the term “ditto-heads” for his followers. No other term I can think of so masterfully expresses the anti-intellectualism that has come to govern this country. The movement has gained ascendancy with this President, and we have now seen that having someone totally averse to science and the scientific method being in charge of our government can be an existential risk. Which is why I think we are actually seeing an evolutionary fork develop here. Is there an evolutionary advantage to believe in science, and follow the guidance of scientists, or is there an evolutionary advantage to being macho and looking to stare down the virus through the mask-free exhalations of those who refuse to follow scientific recommendations.

The thoughts from the Edsall column have given me more pause for thought, though. My own writing is much more complex than that of our current ruling class, and thus I realize that I have no possibility of changing the minds of any people who are leaning conservative/authoritarian. We need other tools that can break through the intransigent mindset of those who believe this leader is doing God’s work. All of the tools I have, logic, irony, sarcasm, none of them seem to be seeping through the skull calcification preventing the acceptance of information that is disturbing to conservatives. I must see if there is some way in which complex thoughts can be presented in small twitter-like bits that fit within the attention span of those who believe themselves superior to libtards like me.

Eyes Wide Shut

3 dollar bill

When I worked at a chemical plant, and was involved in statistical testing, I learned one lesson. Never try to extrapolate two data points into a line. Always use at least three data points to determine the slope of a line. Given the dire nature of what we are seeing in the government response to protests across the country, I am violating my long-held prohibition against use of only two data points.

Lafayette Park and Portland. In both cases, the Federal government has used law enforcement personnel that were unidentified, save for a single word:  POLICE. The first time these unidentified forces were used, it was to clear the way for our great leader to pose in front of an Episcopal church with a Bible held high. That was bad enough.

But in Portland, things have taken a darker turn, and now we have these unidentifiable troops snatching people off of the streets, throwing them into unmarked vehicles, and whisking them away into detention. At least these individuals have been released promptly and no charges have been filed.

Here’s where the need exists to not allow another data point to be created. That data point will likely involve similar government-sponsored kidnappings, followed by disappearances of the arrested protesters. Or, it will involve non-government groups using tactics similar to these government groups, where they take people off of the street to enforce their own brand of justice. We cannot allow this illegal and immoral effort to expand to any other location across this country, not if we want even a sliver of our Constitutional freedoms to stay intact. When the Federal government believes they have the right to abduct those who have participated in protests, and use the human equivalent of unmarked cars as their enforcers, then all of us are in grave danger. The stated goal is to prevent damage to Federal facilities. But as the tactics used in Portland have shown, any relationship between protection of Federal facilities and the abductions of people off of the streets of a city is purely coincidental.

We are unfortunate that we have a commander in chief who is desperate to create a distraction from his abysmal performance as a leader against “this invisible enemy”. Resurrecting the ghost of George Wallace, he believes that only a strong hand against disorder can save his electoral hopes. Thus he will be increasingly unrestrained in his use of force going forward from here. And should the next election somehow come out in his favor, then he will have his storm troopers in place, with their practices established, and he will be ready to unleash them on any dissent whatsoever. Heaven help all of us who still believe in the rule of law when the person at the top of the Federal pyramid has corrupted the tools of government to only further his own misshapen fever dreams of converting this into a Great America.

Now, as I’ve sat on this post for a while before uploading, we’ve seen the list of cities expanding where Federal forces are to be applied whether they are requested or not. It is happening before our very eyes, and we cannot stand idly by as the nation gets dragged further and further into self-induced chaos and authoritarian dictums. Use your voice to protest this ongoing usurpation of the nation under this President.

Revisiting the Innocent Days of 2016

Trump's world

As the writer of a blog, occasionally I claim a point of personal privilege. I chose to do so at this time. My writing has made it clear that I am not in favor of the actions of this administration, nor in favor of the personality cult leading it. I am showing in this message that I have been consistent in my denunciation of the leader of the Republicans. The following post was written as a letter to the editor in my hometown Charleston Gazette-Mail on July 24, 2016, immediately after the Republican convention where Donald Trump accepted the nomination of his party. I sometimes hate it that I saw so clearly what was about to befall the nation, but I commend it to you as a look back to those innocent days in 2016, when we thought we would probably avoid being subjected to a Trump presidency. Would that we could have had that alternative reality come true.

 

Here is the link to the original letter in the paper:

https://www.wvgazettemail.com/opinion/letter-united-states-feels-bereft-of-hope-gazette/article_44dd8ef3-1c7b-5bd8-902e-7188e6c1c75b.html

 

Editor:

A nation bereft of hope, buffeted by demographic changes and societal upheaval that made us an impotent caricature of our former glory. A nation divided by those who are evil and who are actively working with our enemies to weaken us further. A nation that teeters on a moral abyss, ready to irreversibly tumble into said abyss. A nation who needs the strong hand of leadership to restore our grandeur and prosperity. A nation that must retreat within its borders, and make those borders impregnable to hold back the Visigoths and Huns and cannibals who are attempting to overwhelm our weakened wimpy forces.

That is the vision presented at this week’s Republican convention. It is a vision of hopelessness and despair supposedly brought on by the administration of the last 8 years. It is a vision that thrives on petty name-calling. It is a vision that is the climax of the campaign created by Donald Trump and enabled by his legions of worshipers. It is a vision crafted in bites of 140 characters or less, matching the attention span of this reality TV-addicted nation. It is a vision that evokes revulsion and hatred among its adherents — revulsion against the society that is stacked against them, and hatred of those viewed as responsible for the conditions these champions of the American way have had to endure.

I, too, feel bereft of hope. But not because of the issues enumerated above. No, I am bereft of hope because I have seen our nation devolve into such a state that a total sociopath could hijack one of the two major political parties in my nation. I despair due to the shallowness of thought that causes my own demographic (white male in my 60s in a red state) to form the core of Trump’s army. I despair due to the knowledge that during the upcoming campaign, the real issues facing this country will not be addressed. Instead we will be subjected to a seemingly endless string of negative tweets, PAC-sponsored media messages, and scenes of angry mobs attacking angry mobs representing the opposing party.

But mostly I despair due to the real possibility that a charlatan such as Donald Trump could ascend to the leadership of this nation. That our nation is so foolish that we could ever be suckered into believing the lie that is the story of Donald Trump, and that his brand of evil will be foisted upon this nation and the world. If that were to happen, I can only pray that we are able to avoid the apocalypse he could bring down upon us.

 

2020 update: This was what I saw coming down the road back during the days of the election. Sometimes I hate to be correct. I have learned that those who believe in this sham of a president, still do so unabashedly. Accordingly, I do not believe that any words in this forum can change the minds of anyone. Still, it feels good to vent, and sometimes it is good to look back in time and see if the feelings expressed then still are current. They are in this case.

Snowflakes Are Dancing (As They Melt)

snowflake

Pity the poor snowflakes. Those who cannot adjust to the changes in society. They are the ones  who so often decry those on the left who make the argument that a society cannot survive while a substantial portion of the population still suffers from inequality. In many ways, that is what we have seen with the ascendance of the Republicans this past decade. They do not accept that we live in a fundamentally different society than the one they so fondly remember. The one they remember that never really existed at all. Instead, like the view perpetuated by popular cultural phenomena of “Gone With The Wind”, which wistfully viewed plantation culture as the epitome of white culture, they remember only the image they were fed. That is one reason why “To Kill A Mockingbird” was so devilishly subversive. It showed the mirror side to the part of the population that believed in white supremacy, by depicting the reality of life for so many who lived by the rules imposed upon them, but still got caught up in the scapegoating that white privilege allowed.

The poor snowflakes are melting down. Of course, they are unable to understand subtlety. Defunding the police becomes synonymous with anarchy and riots, since clearly it implies a binary choice. You either have order imposed at the end of a gun (or a knee), or you have chaos and anarchy, brought to you by a phantom called Antifa. Nowhere is there room in the discussion to bring up the uncomfortable fact that through the decades since we deinstitutionalized the mentally ill, we shifted more and more of the responsibilities for them onto the police force. By allowing the mentally ill more freedom by removing them from institutions, it brought their issues into conflict with the larger population of the nation, and when calls for assistance came, only the police were in a position to respond. Unfortunately, too often they respond with lethal force, since that is the main tool they come equipped with. Since we as a society have not funded alternatives to institutions, street confrontations and growth in homeless populations keep the snowflakes demanding a police solution to these problems.

The Republican snowflakes are melting into a pool of stagnant water. They no longer have the ability to defend their leader when he makes yet another asinine claim (this time it was that the 75-year old Buffalo man was an Antifa plant). Instead, they march right on by the press who tries to get them to respond to this outrageous claim. The press keeps waiting for reasonableness to creep back into the Republican party. They don’t realize that the only reasonable Republicans are the ones who have left the party (because the party left them). Subjugation of the party to the service and worship of one thin-skinned man has caused them to abandon their principles. They don’t want small, fiscally-conservative government. Instead, they want to fund ongoing degradation of civil liberties by unleashing the military directly on those who exercise their first amendment rights. They want tax reduction above all else. They want those who are unqualified and on the extreme fringe of legal thought to be awarded lifetime positions in the court systems, in order to perpetuate their short term hold on this nation.

For this is the thing that causes the full-scale melting of the snowflakes. They can see the sea changes coming to this society. We have indeed moved past the homogenous sea of whiteness that they long to bring back. Unfortunately, those who held power in this nation have never willingly yielded any of the power to those of “lesser” characteristics. No, you had to impose the force of law in order to keep blacks enslaved. You had to push out the native inhabitants into plots of poorer lands in order to facilitate the confiscation of the lands by the favored classes. You had to restrict the immigration of Orientals since their alien culture would never be accepted by the real patriots. Even after multiple generations in this country, you had to exclude Japanese ancestry from the larger culture in WWII since allegiances could be faked, and you couldn’t take the risk from the other.

Now that demographics are changing, and changing fast, the desperate scrabble for power is being exposed daily. The snowflakes tried to redistribute votes in a favorable way through gerrymandering, and that proved very successful in many states. The snowflakes were successful in judicially enfeebling the voting rights act, which led states to reduce polling stations in demographically challenging locations. After all, if you can make it into an all-day ordeal in order to exercise your rights by ballot, you will discourage many from even trying to exercise the franchise. That will allow you to hang on for yet another election cycle, and right now that appears to be the limit of the strategic vision of the snowflakes. They only want to keep the warmth of civic life from melting them completely, causing them to be lost in the entropy of society.

Successfully Jumping Sharks

Trump's world

The words of Charles Mckay from 1841 ring as true today as they did then:  “Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.” Thus it has been with the slow recovery from the election of 2016, where the electorate went just enough insane to select the disruptor in chief, thinking that their choice would at the very most, place a thumb in the eye of the establishment. Little did they know that their choice was in fact an existential one.

Finally, though, the event we were waiting for happened last week. The President jumped the shark! By staging that photo op event of holding a generic Bible in front of an Episcopal Church, then inviting his enablers to stand beside him to join in this glorious display, this reality star performed his sit-com equivalent of Fonzie jumping the shark on water skis. Perhaps this is the only image this ratings-obsessed creation can understand. His act has gone stale, and the blatant hypocrisy involved in using mounted police to purge demonstrators from Lafayette Park while simultaneously declaring himself to be the ally of peaceful protestors everywhere, served as the last straw for many of his former allies. Add to this the story of his call to governors where he called for the domination of the streets and threatening to send the nations active military to any location that failed to maintain “LAW AND ORDER”, the mask came off and his true nature became apparent to all.

Thus it was that during the week we were shown one after another of the military men who had graced both this and former administrations, moved to denounce the anti-constitutional nature of the current occupant of the mansion on Black Lives Matter Plaza. Next will come the tell-all to be released by the owner of the walrus mustache. Expect others who have taken part in this immoral and chaotic administration to slowly dribble their truths out into the media maelstrom over the summer and into the fall, until only those who still believe in the racism and evil that Trump personifies stick with him into the election.

Of course, we will have the benefit of seeing Darwinian evolution in actual practice, as the mass gatherings of Trump supporters will soon be back in vogue. When you are washed in the blood of the Donald, you need fear no virus. None would dare harm any of his followers. Or so he would have you believe. After all, the entire virus was nothing but a nothing burger. Don’t believe what you see on the TV. They only work to deceive you by directing attention away from the glorious economic recovery happening day by day. So when the smattering of contact tracers go back, they will find mass spreading events that coincide with Trump’s rallies. That’s a prediction for the future.

The events of the past few months have defied belief. This is how you know that time travel back to the past does not exist. If it did exist, someone would have come back at the start of the year and warned us of what we were to face. I don’t remember anyone that called for a pandemic plague, an economic catastrophe, and a racial explosion reminiscent of the late ’60’s. Maybe I just wasn’t listening hard enough to hear the rumblings beneath the surface of the serene waters of the DC swamp.

Long Time Coming, This Virus Crisis

corona-4912186__340

So, we are now in the world flavored with corona. A world where many still claim that the virus is no worse than the seasonal flu, and that there is absolutely no reason to accept economic damage due to a stated need of preventing an exponential rise of cases from completely overwhelming our medical capabilities. These deniers of all things uncomfortable to them refuse to accept any evidence that hasn’t slapped them upside of their heads with a 2×4. They may be a small fraction of the total population of the US, but they speak loudly, and are prone to simultaneously demonstrate many of their rights, as they parade with placards, guns, and the incongruous mash-up of the US flag and the Confederate battle flag. The images of unmasked faces spitting their hatred towards state legislators will be engrained in the history textbooks of the future as they describe this episode in our nation’s narrative.

These bloviators are encouraged by their cult leader, who speaks in the Twitter language. This is a strange language, where thoughts are compressed to bullet points, and ….. becomes the joining conjunction. I can foresee a future library where these masterful expositions of momentary blips of what passes for thought, are portrayed as the speech form of the future. Forget writing meant to last longer than the moment. That is so elitist! Instead, we need to speak directly to the common man, bypassing the superfluous filter of the media. For too long those people have held sway over the agenda of this nation. No wonder we’ve become the laughingstock of the world, pretending that we cared about anything other than gross economic growth. For the sweet nirvana of growth is the only thing that matters,.

It is truly amazing that this nation can be brought from the “Greatest economy in the history of the world,” within two months to a basket case where people line up for miles in cars in order to access a food handout. One might say that the apparent prosperity we enjoyed was an illusion, sustained by the necessary labor of those we now celebrate as the indispensable ones. You know, those who we truly valued by paying wages that precluded any ability to save. Instead, we encouraged overconsumption by the easy availability of credit. Credit for vehicle payments, credit for mortgages, credit in the form of credit cards that ensnare millions into a life of making minimum payments, credit traps like payday lenders. All it took to pierce this illusion of prosperity has been a simple little invader, the tiniest subdivision of life.

The hollowing out of the economy has taken decades. Every so often, we saw what could go wrong with the increasing financialization of our economy. The practice of using junk bond financing in order to make hostile bids for existing stable companies got a little too brazen. Michael Milken, one of the early users of this technique, found that using insider trading in conjunction with the purchasing of a company worked even better, and eventually he was charged and convicted of securities fraud back in 1989. It is not a surprise to learn that he was pardoned by President Trump in February 2020. But it has not been the actual effect of the technique that has caused the most damage to this nation. No, it has been the modification of corporate behavior as a response to the vulnerability exposed from corporate raiders which has inflicted the damage and greatly increased the inequality we have in our nation.

Once corporate boards realized they were liable to be attacked by outside financial wizards, they took many of the actions those wizards would inflict on their victims. No longer was it beneficial to play a beneficial role in the local economy by paying more in wages, and supporting the local economy through donations. Nay, now all that matters is to reward the stockholders. When you combine that with the opening of China, and its legions of low wage workers and its ignoring of environmental restrictions, you saw company after company outsource production to this new savior of the world’s economy. This nation could survive by doing the design work, and the marketing and sales for the products returning via container ships. Component cost is the sole determinant of what is good. The lower the component costs, the more gross margin can accumulate on the final product.

The next piece in this financialization nightmare came about when computer technology made it possible to arbitrage taxation rates among the various countries. If you establish a subsidiary in a low tax location, then use it to move product from one country to another, you can take some vigorish off the top and allocate some of the supply chain profit to this new entity. Now all nations became engaged in the race to the bottom for corporate taxation rates, since all were liable to be victimized by this new technique, and were likely to see taxable profits disappear from their shores.

Then layer debt onto this structure. Not debt for new facilities, for opening new markets, but debt to directly reward the shareholders and corporate executives by enabling the buyback of shares and goosing the stock price. All are happy (except for those who lose their jobs when business does turn down and the debt repayment leads to bankruptcy of the company).

Of course, there are those people who do not fit into this new world so neatly. They are those who have to provide their labor in a single location, who cannot leverage their skills across the globe. People like those who remove our trash, and serve us coffee, and wait tables or bartend, those who provide health care services, those who are in the first responder ranks. As we’ve seen in these past two months, they are the ones who stitch together the threads of society. Without them, we unravel. That is why this original stand at living in quarantine was so important, since we saw in other nations and in New York what could happen when one essential part of this structure became at risk. When health care workers are overwhelmed, the entire health care system becomes dysfunctional at the very time it is being depended on by so many.

But in the corporate environment we live in, every action has its down sides. By closing the health care facilities to discretionary procedures, only a fraction of the personnel employed at these facilities were needed. Therefore it is the nurses and orderlies and service personnel not engaged in the ICU who became expendable, and were furloughed. So we see the extreme irony of health care workers joining the army of the unemployed at the same time as we are depending more heavily than ever on health care workers. Similarly, as assisted living facilities and nursing homes were co-opted by for-profit companies, the need for profit resulted in fewer and fewer resources being available in the front line of these facilities. For the investors, what was important is that the facilities paid their rents for their buildings, which were owned by corporations separate from the health care companies. Thus, we see deaths concentrated in these facilities as they become overwhelmed by the flood of illness.

When even pandemics are viewed through a partisan lens, it is very likely that no real structural change will happen if and when we return to “normal” lives. Even if the power in the Senate and the White House change in the upcoming election, we know that a substantial minority in this nation will never accept the legitimacy of the government. Somehow, we must break the hold of the personality cult that has poisoned the minds of so many, so much so that they ignore all signs of incompetence and mental illness in their leader. It remains to be seen whether the death and illness caused by this virus will suffice to loosen the bonds of this confederacy of dunces.