The crowd is unusually raucous tonight. Ordinarily these events rarely rise above a pompous murmur. But now we have tender partisans rooting their teams on. If this were a college football game some of them may have smeared their faces with paint representing their team; they would be shouting while throwing back their fifth or sixth beer as the game is about to start.
None of them seem particularly interested in formality or the rules. Only about half of the fans who bought tickets actually care about the debate–today is just another campaign speech and go fuck yourself if you think you’re gonna rattle me! I can’t wait for one of these players to draw blood, they are thinking. Because this is what sports and politics are: rooting against the other team. There are no favorites. We just want the other guy to lose.
There will probably be a few campaign plants in the crowd, aggressively lumbering forward to ask a question. It will be something like “I understand that your proposal for (pick your issue) is revolutionary, and is going to get our nation back on the right course, but how much does it cost?”
This second part is really the ball on the tee, a well scripted answer about to dominate the floor. The insecure deification, the clearly partisan opening, if poorly acted, will make a fool out of everyone. No one wants their secrets exposed.
All of the other candidates will be embarrassed. It is the perfect image for the Republicans to run in their smear ads. Look at how indecisive these people are, and notice how none of them can face the other. They are a divided party–look at them!
One thing that the Democrats realize this time around is that repetition and populist slogans work very well with the general public. It all becomes a saber-metric ratings game, compiling stats, a fantasy contest with no real rules. The only voices being heard are shouting radicals (allowing the opposition party to paint every member of their crowd exactly like these buffoons), and the angry political ringers, knowing just what to say, how to say it, and what it is supposed to make you feel. Of course there is poor Tom Styer. He actually seems like a decent man. Everything he says makes him sound like he actually cares. He’s even polite, waiting his turn. He doesn’t have a chance.
“The cost,” the candidate might say, “is relative to how much you want to contribute to our American future? Let’s be clear,” they will continue, unless they have their own transitional preface, something like “What’s more important?” or “I’m not gonna lie.” We all remember “Yes We Can,” a hopeful term that resonates. The other candidates must have been pissssssed. Of course we all remember what followed on the right, a toxic, cynical opposition declaring “No You Can’t,” which transformed, somehow, into “Make America Great Again.”
–A brief aside on the ‘No You Can’t’ movement of the 2010s. Such an absolutist negativity has actually taken many forms throughout history: Know Nothings. Whigs. Federalists. Anarchists. These are the paranoid killjoys from every political party, shouting lefty/righty nonsense, a forever active coven of legislative thugs. These multi-generational manifestations of grown up selfish brats, exclusively interested in gathering up as much dirt as possible in the short time we have before apocalypse. Their faiths are convictions. Like a toddler, they often freak out when they don’t get their way–
The opposition party of whichever issue tend to sneer and moan nasally about how “the cost will be extravagant,” on the floor of the United States Congress, wiping their noses on their jacket sleeves. Then someone mumbles and grumbles whatever slick political jargon appeals to their base.
People such as this–a drastically growing voting block not just in the United States, but all over the world–are either terrified of change, or they want to tear the whole thing down. They are all well past their prime, even while still young. Just wait until the next generation, if the minor league statistics are correct. Their unbending terror of the future, it is on those days when we start to feel old. The next generation of superstars will manifest ideology in a wholly different way, representing throughout the world all of the social trends which inspired the present tense. Our short attention span. Our abbreviated language, sinking into symbols on a screen. Then language continues to devolve until communication is hardly different than the end of a burnt stick scribbles on the wall of a cave, flickering images alone telling our stories.
Heads will nod and shake in syncopation, hypnotized, giving up on hope in favor of risking the threat of something worthwhile to look forward to. They have chosen their road in order to believe themselves untouchable. They are ready with threats for anyone questioning their way of life, and especially the unresolved vagary of their beliefs. They are ultimately cowards, afraid of the wind shaking the trees. Paranoid, terrified of the world.
In the end such extremity gets bogged down in a glut of indifference. Fans stop showing up, or at least stay at home and watch an inning or two on TV. Such angry people, shouting down their equal and opposite crazy persons over strange, UFO-Christ conspiracy theories, or an arrogant certainty that everything-that-ever-happened-was-decided-by-some-secret-society-keeping-us-down. They will shout their slogan, “It’s time to break free of their grasp!” And yet I wonder . . . Are they the only ones to see through the veil of our apparently false society? Or maybe they are in the plot, either scheming against us or a tragic victim of fate. Or . . . or . . . or maybe the person speaking has merely gotten so disillusioned with organized religion that he seeks his own. After all, if these willow-the-wisps of world control can engineer everything, then aren’t they no different from the presumption of God?
Within this fringe–certainly one of the dark sub blocks or humanity trying to get Trump re-elected, within this sewer of historical doubt they have found a prophet, a man unafraid to question reality. While certainly not the majority of the people I disagree with, these TV commentators can help set opinion about who is going to win, and dig up some kind of scandal about someone (or make it up!) and use this to sully their audience, only capable of seeing a malevolent enemy plotting to destroy the world. This is the more rational impact of the conspiracy-everything culture we have been living under since the early days of the Cold War. All I can say to any of this, to any of you who believe what partisans are telling you, is that you are wrong. True Independence is what these games used to be fought for, but money has taken over the honor as it has with every other spectator sport, and corrupted the soul of everything.
So who can we blame, we tend to ask when confronted with an unsolvable problem. The answer is the Jews and blacks and gays and women. We blame the people who hate them, really just expressing another form of virulent prejudice, hating others instead of trying to get to know them and maybe understand their rage.
Yet instead people target the 967 new definitions of gender that were added over the past two weeks. We hate Muslims, Christians, Atheists, Hindus, voodoo, worldwide tribal religions, ancient, dashed faiths that someone must follow alone in their room. We hate white and brown and yellow and orange people. We hate the purple and blue while they are dying. We hate cops. We hate people with red hair (or blonde, or brown, or gray, or bald). We hate everything superficial about one another and yet refuse to attempt understanding why.
This is why America is falling behind in so many categories. Remember when we led the league in everything? Math, Science, Education, Finance, Morality, the great hope on earth. And yet now we cower in our houses believing the world is out to get us. This is why so many of those statistics have fallen so drastically. After all, when looking at the Bill of Rights, we aren’t even the number one country on acting on these freedoms. No, that is peaceful Norway. Instead we focus exclusively on the 2nd Amendment, the bold declaration about being ready for intruders giving away just how terrified this person is every moment they breathe. They rattle their guns. They grow to love them. They are more than just toys. They may become an obsessive collection, several other connoisseurs sometimes getting together to trade or buy and sell new weapons. It becomes just another club, another membership only place that refuses to trust anything outside their circle.
Eventually the food and shotgun shells run out and they are forced to seek an isolated local vendor promoting some white man’s madrassa as the cost of food. And the lesson that they go away with is “fuck not killing someone! Don’t come on my lawn!”
Look: In the wake of Barrack Obama’s rise people were very angry. From the taunting on the left to the brutal racial violence on the right, the political differences we might once have had disappeared into the void of the past. We can blame advanced communications technology for a grave variety of troubles that have made us more isolated than ever before. It was originally intended to bring us back together. And yet people stare into their phones all day, walking without seeing cars or each other, sometimes a texting drive mowing down a person. The driver will have no idea what happened, figuring out some way to blame the victim.
In 2007 Obama was skyrocketing to fame, questionably promoted by the party (who would prefer Hillary Clinton but a win is a win) as a sharp, witty, good-looking, with a great-sense-of-humor and a pretty thick skinned man (also he was a black man, a revolutionary act the Democratic Party could take credit for, now and forever into the future). Obama started out as a reformer and he began getting taken seriously. He was not so liberal that people would lose all of their money on government programs, yet he breathed compassion into the air with his speeches. He seemed decent enough, although every president likes to put on a show, mugging for the cameras in character, delivering their catch phrases, and transforming themselves momentarily into someone they fundamentally are not.
Once Obama was elected he was curiously awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for . . . had he done anything as president yet other than get elected? No, that first year is always fraught with change, a hostile Congress and either a rigid defender or a froth mouthed attack dog, making sure that nothing ever gets done.
Barrack Hussein Obama did not deserve to win the Nobel Prize for himself. In fact, his being representative of the nation he was merely awarded the trophy for the players out in the field. Yes, it was the American People who were given the prize. I can hear it, the rolling huff of your eyes. You have a difficulty facing it, your head shaking side to side and a mild headache forming. But it’s true–it really is! We were champs for a whole year before Liu Xiaobo of China won the pageant for “His long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” Awesome, right? A guy who deserved to win. Wanna know what Obama won for on the whatever they had to scribble down to justify the victory? This sounds absurd but, “For his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! No, the American People won the prize for finally pulling our heads out of our asses and seeing if a different flavor might fix all the wrongs known to man, something none of the white men before him had ever done no matter how hard a slim handful of them tried. We won the prize because we elected a Black Man, hopefully ending the societal urge to brand differences into subjugation.
To counter to the obvious mistake in the reason for the award, that he “strengthen(ed) . . . cooperation between peoples,” immediately, just like the formation of the Ku Klux Klan immediately following the Civil War, an extremely large group of people were horrified by his even being allowed to run. Was he even born here? You know he’s black. Maybe he’s some African jihadist, ineligible to serve in the highest office. People were not happy. There were more mass shootings in 2007 than in the previous eight years prior combined.
The first term that Obama served, throughout those four years, shootings were certainly up. Schools and workplace suicidal rage was up 200%. People were killed in the street. There were certainly more racial and ethnic hate crimes, coming from every race, as well as the barbarity of killing your own without caring. There were some horrifying headlines, many of the acts of terrorism dismissed as being performed by “crisis actors,” only there to take away people’s gun rights and push the false agenda of a President people truly started to hate. Everything he did was wrong to them, even the stuff that benefited them greatly. All they saw was treason and tried to pick apart every stray thread in an action and, like the gleeful conspiracy theorists they are, dancing happily from 9/11 was a hoax to child sex trafficking in the basement of some greasy pizza joint. All of it was real. Illuminati, Elders of Zion, the Soviet Union never died, UFOs, the CIA slaughtering American citizens since the day it was born. “Trust No One,” is really their counter to “Yes We Can.” And it is this world that formed absolutism and fundamentalist political movements, politics being America’s religion.
When Obama was elected to a second term the number of mass shootings rose to the largest number in the history of this statistic on paper. People were going crazy, shooting into crowded outdoor concerts and movie theaters. And, the result of this horror (the true impact of terrorism, the death and destruction merely a visual prompt to a broken society) was that everyone come together to start perceiving the other side as the enemy.
Imagine yourself in a war video game, invulnerable if you can slip under the bullets, or use your pack or bonus points to swat them away for a few seconds. This is how mass shooters perceive the grid in their line of sight. Shoot as many as you can and get the highest score. I’m goin’ for the record! this lost child shrieks, excited about something for one of the very few times in his life. One of these pieces of fuck went into his school and syncopated his gunfire to the deep bass of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust,” shouting out the chorus with every body that fell.
At the end of the Obama years angry Republicans, frustrated by how few if their aims were even considered. They began by thinking about Jeb Bush, yet another same old, same old, a tired distillation of the previous generation’s politics. It there was a new world order coming, and if you thought the politicos were angry, think about how mad the people must be to elect paranoid Congressmen to represent their district, or slimy liberal goats whose ideas rapidly turn to mush. Disorder was the price of this leaning too far either way. Think Icarus, burning his wings off by getting too close to the son. This is how President Donald Trump came into being. It is this irrational rage, this seeping fear that keeps everyone farther and farther away from each other. America elected greed. We elected selfishness. We elected cheaters and liars and motherfucking assholes (remember how people praised Trump for “not being nice, but he can get things done”?) We elected all this wretched detritus of humanity because that is who we are too.
In 2017, with Trump now in office, the former record number of mass shooting was shattered by 46 victims. Lest you shrug and say “that ain’t so much,” the previous all time high, from 2012 and 2016, was 71. 117, and that is only the mass shootings. Want to see something horrible?
Steadily going up, certainly since 1999, which itself saw 28,874 deaths by gunshot in the US. 2017? 39,773. 2018? Almost 45,000. 2019? Even more than that! 2020 is off to a stellar year too: As of January 30 the number of gun violence death is a staggering 3,165, including twenty-one mass shootings already (the record for a single year is 2019 with 417). It is important to consider, also, that the most active months for mass shootings range from April to October. With a contentious Presidential election on the horizon one should not be surprised to see every record fall.
We are well past the debate right now, the event that was meant to begin this piece. Oh, there’ll be a short highlight reel to follow, the last debate all the way back on January 16, 2020, regardless, having an impact come three weeks later. But what truly has the largest impact in the present moment (and who knows what will scandalize us come Spring?) is the dangling thread of the Donald Trump impeachment trial. This has been a long time coming, and by that I mean literally. The amount of time we knew that it was going to happen is comparable to the World Series or Superbowl. You know it’s coming and you can’t wait.
The Impeachment of Donald John Trump is the main event, certainly a key deciding factor in the subsequent election. Let’s speculate based on history and fact, dividing the possible outcomes. Say Trump is excused from prosecution, the Senate ignoring actions that even they seem to be admitting in session are crimes. Then they brush them away–leaders of nations can do anything they want (here come political assassinations, ordered, then denied over the scandal). They chortle smugly at the losers, real trash talk that they spout on TV with a joyous but guilty crinkle to their face, the thrill of victory flaking away until they start to wonder when the vindicated man might seek revenge against them, or maybe just outright cancelling the election in the name of national security. Here, why not consider one of the crazy conspiracies that have suddenly popped up, this one on the left:
“Ya know this, whaddyacallit, Contravirus? It’s really strange.
I bet Trump ordered some kind of germ warfare to be dumped
on China–probably with those evil fuckers’ permission–
and now there’s a worldwide emergency! He can close the
election and arrest those who speak out. He can claim that
the threat will last forever and that the US cannot change
direction is the face of such a crisis. Another cheat!”
Now this blathering lunacy should drown in its own shrill cry, but the darkest part of this statement is the fact that even slightly, in the farther cavern of your brain, there is an iota of consideration, wondering for the briefest moment if it is possibly true. This goes both left and right, no one doubting that if not something potentially apocalyptic like this, there’s a chance some other evil notion simmering in the President of the United State’s heart might just burst out in a wave of violence. It is not impossible and that’s the problem. Our President is confused, delusional, and absolutely certain that whatever stray thought dissolves in his brain is the absolute truth of that moment. The man is a conspiracy theorist–and not one of those doing research, wondering if JFK really was killed for political reasons beyond one lone kook. No, Donald Trump is one of those wacky nut jobs who believe nearly everything in paranoid, less-fringe-than-it-used-to-be, far right wing press, shouting spurious slurs that are only about attacking someone, and not bothering with whichever wrong may have actually been perpetrated on a nation they’ve never really loved. These are the self-justified folks who pick and chose edited sections of the Constitution the way an evangelical preacher might pick through the bible when trying to condemn a certain way of life.
Questioning facts, truth, and belief forms the front stage bitterness, shouting variations on reality, that is this modern political age.
Let’s look at another potential outcome. The witnesses, of course, have been rejected by the Senate, but consider what might happen if the final impeachment vote is something like 52-48 in favor of getting rid of the current President. Imagine that, Donald Trump’s rage. This would make him angrier than actually being fully impeached. He would obsess over betrayal. The Deep State is stronger than ever! We must purge the government of these traitors. They must be arrested, held in cells, perhaps sent off to camps where they will be forced to work to see what it means to be a true American!
I’m sure we can picture Trump saying this too, far more likely than not should he be reelected to another four year term. And of course his blank ignorance of history will keep him from realizing that he is describing exactly what happened in Germany after Hitler took over. The rounding up. The labor camps. The aggressive public humiliation and the lessons learned in school by hired propagandists that such-and-such is evil and I am the only good. I am trying to save your lives from the enemy within . . .
No, Trump could never let this go, the image of a public loss, despite the reality that Constitutional rules, this time around, would actually leave him in office. Of course . . .
Here’s how Trump gets thrown out of office. The facts are heard from Bolton and let’s say John Kelly, two inner circle guys who know quite a bit of dirt. Let’s just say that a great many Republicans are finally horrified enough by what is said, details graphic enough to be believed. Say seventy Senators vote to remove him. Trump’s deepest followers have propped up the man as a messianic figure (what better ego boost than having people choose to worship you as God?) They will go to war, screaming about coup’etat, demanding an open election in November (something the President had up until then been trying to block), and then aggressively voting for Trump again, like anyone else who is a true American. These witnesses could be heard, finally, shout the House choose to resume their impeachment hearing, adding on new charges, such as treason.
Of course the Senate, who’s fully unified power could easily destroy any single person holding the office of President, might just see this moment for their own revenge. Lindsey Graham used to haaaaate Donald Trump back when John McCain was alive. Trump called Ted Cruz’s father complicit in JFK’s assassination. Cruz publicly called Trump a “compulsive liar.” Mitt Romney hates his guts, as no doubt plenty of other Republicans do. And so they are torn. This trial, a rank handful of politicians believed, was meant to be about justice for the nation, about protecting our rule of law in the face of a leader disinterested in what those laws are, yet now, instead of considering what is good for the US, they worry that their job might be in jeopardy. I mean, how can we expect a Senator go back to their high-powered attorney’s job, or heading corporations, or famous doctor or TV talking head, with at least six figure annual salaries? What could they do without the additional power those careers taught them to love? Can they be satisfied teaching future politicians in college how to get elected themselves? Can a person once in office who loses their seat ever be whole again? You know what they say: Once you chair the the Select Committee on Ethics, you never go back.
Here’s another question: What would have happened if Abraham Lincoln had been brought up on impeachment charges for “Violating the Constitution,” “Presidential Misconduct,” and “Treason”? Of course in 1861 the Republicans and Unionists won two thirds majority from the Democrats in both House and Senate, so the very idea of a trial is laughable. Yet everyone would still vote according to party lines. Am I comparing Donald Trump to Abraham Lincoln? Of course not. It is an absurd contrast. But the partisanship worthy of notice. If the pro-slavery Democrats had retained the house yet lost the Senate, how different would the circumstances be?
The Civil War Democrats, by the way, have nothing whatsoever to do with the Democratic Party of today. Neither do the Republicans with their in-name-only brethren. In those days the Democrats were the slave owning Southerners, a region that has transformed with time into loyal followers of the Republican Party. It is not the people that changed, it was the Party. The Democrats, too, condemned their past and formed an entirely new ideology to contrast with the Republicans at the turn of the century, President McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt redefining US politics into the swamp of global industry and corporate partisanship it remains today.
The impeachment–there is no way and no place not to talk about it–is in many ways comparable to the Presidential title fight in November. Both are urgent. Both have a massive following. TV rating for politics have been way up ever since Trump was elected. But it is not because of hope or faith or true love or any of the other genres this cynical culture of ours dismisses as boring. It is the viciousness, the bench clearing brawl that kicks many people out of office this election, and lands more in the hospital with heart attacks and strokes. And of course there are those so disgusted with the game that they have entirely given up. They retire and yearn for those halcyon days when they still believed in anything.
One Congressional incident stands out in the years before the Civil War (please bear with me; most of you can guess where I’m going with this), and it is not when Joe Wilson stood up to interrupt President Obama proposing his plan for health care in a joint session of Congress, and shouted “You lie!” (as an aside, at Wilson’s next speech in his home state of South Carolina featured people chanting the same thing at him, interrupting him repeatedly with their laughter. Nevertheless, Wilson remains in Congress to this day, serving on so many varieties of committees it makes one wonder if he will ever find an issue he cares about more than his hatred for Barrack Obama).
So on May 12, 1856 Representative Preston Brooks walked into the chambers with a mission. Brooks was a huffy goon (also from South Carolina) who was increasingly outraged by clowns like Charles Sumner, that abolitionist scum, who would dare even think about doing anything with his slaves. Brooks made a beeline straight toward the famous Senator. “Mr. Sumner,” Brooks spat through gritted teeth, “I have read your speech twice over carefully. It is a libel on South Carolina.”
Sumner was probably at first amused by such churlish foot-stomping. The aging man got up. He was shaking his head. As he stood nearly full height Brooks took that moment to smash Sumner in the head with a gold-tipped, heavy walking cane.
He hit him over and over again, blood gushing from his head, out his ears, dripping into his eyes. Sumner tried to scramble away, clutching to the chairs and the legs of desks. He managed to claw his way beneath his own desk and then got stuck there as Brooks raced after him. Once again the pounding started, bashing Sumner’s legs with the cane, until it broke in half. Now Brooks had two weapons.
In a claustrophobic frenzy Sumner found himself wedged underneath the desk without a discernible way of getting out. His chair was attached to the frame before him, and he was too dazed to figure out how to slide it out of the way in order to escape.
Rep. Brooks kept coming, eventually shoving the desk off the downed man and then bashing Sen. Sumner’s head with the two sticks like he was pounding on dented steel drum. Sumner was in agony, screaming for help. Very few bothered stepping in. Some wholly approved of the beating, but felt it a bit out of place on the floor of Congress. “Take it behind the shed,” one of the humorless men probably mumbled. One such fellow, John J. Crittenden, a member of the same party as Brooks, kept on saying “that’s enough, that’s enough,” and “He’s learned his lesson,” until he was finally forced to stop speaking from his chair and grab his friend’s arm and plead, “please don’t kill him! It will hurt the cause!”
Eventually the thing was broken up, a technical win for Sumner on account of Brooks’ disqualification (as well as the disgust of most Americans). But the aftermath was even starker, somehow worse than the fact that a Congressman stormed into the Senate chambers with a statement and then a beating of a very well known liberal Senator. This is the same sort of righteous attitude that led to Lincoln getting shot by a like-minded but far less successful John Wilkes Booth.
The reception of the two participants in the now wholly tabloid event was unlike what the United States had ever seen. The fact that the general public in the North declared Charles Sumner a martyr, or in the South where Preston Brooks was greeted as a hero who went to war and saved face for the slaveholders. Fairy tale children’s books and rumors began around all of this. Those enslaved saw hope, no matter where it came from, and it was okay for Sumner to die for the cause because it was bigger than him. For those who admired Preston Brooks, things were very different and very telling of where the nation was moving.
They sent Brooks hundreds of new canes, one inscribed with the words “Hit him again!” Newspapers displayed outrage and mockery, both North and South agreeing to the same facts, but interpreting events very differently
Preston Brooks died an agonizing death from croup seven months later. Near the end he attempting to tear his throat open because it was so hard for him to breathe. His funeral was attended by thousands, most of them who did not know him (and many who hadn’t voted for him), weeping as they followed the funeral train.
Inevitably, as the nation approached the feared and yearned for terminal split, conspiracy theories mounted about Brooks’ death. It seemed too convenient. It was too soon. And croup? Croup? Wasn’t there a cure for that yet?
The most common theory was that Sumner poisoned Brooks. This was believed by a terrifyingly large number of people, those in the North as well. The system was so absolutely broken and the citizens no longer trusted their government, that it was time for a cleansing. It was time to reset the public trust and prove to one another which is the best way to go.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it, even if you’re not a US history nerd like yours truly. Perhaps that’s because at no other time since in American history has polarization been so intense there were serious discussions on succeeding from the union. And there we sit, today, awaiting the next stage of chaos. Call it the next level in one of those TV Ninja Stunt Man shows, stage fourteen. And we all sit here, the boiling stink of the air heating people up to watch Rampage 2020. All it costs is our soul for a front row seat to the Pay-Per-View Revolution.
–BREAKING NEWS!!! (followed by whichever jackhammer tone your favorite news update channel blares to get your attention).
So the Republicans have decided there will be no witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial. Their argument, endlessly, had been “you’ve haven’t proven the facts. Where’s your evidence?”
This, while at the same time rudely scolding the lowly Democrats for daring to ask for documentation to back up their facts, waved off by dismissive claims of “Presidential Privilege.” They can’t even use the term “Executive.” “Privilege,” like he’s the mad duke running around on the lawn in his foppish best, firing off a gun wildly, in the air and into the ground. He waves the thing around and closes his eyes and shouts “Woo Hoo!” very near the moment that a bullet hits a servant in the head, instantly killing him. Cover it up, make like you don’t care until you can’t even remember having gotten away with murder.
But that word, ‘privilege,’ implies making selfish decisions for the good of the state, at least good relative to Donald Trump. To him privilege is the only life he has ever known. I can do whatever I want! Waah! Wahh! That’s mine! Gimme that! It’s Mine! Get that guy! I heard he said some shit! Disappear him, man . . .” I suspect that this, too, is Trump. I have no doubt whatsoever.
“He’s the President, you fucking apes!” someone like Stephen Miller sneezes out. “Donald Trump has already been an executive. Now he’s the president! Presidential . . . (an oozing pause) privilege means that everything is prerogative of one man’s whims. If he thinks that exposing him for the crook every single one of us knows that he always has been is a threat to national security, then fuck you, I know better than you what it is that I want.”
So Trump boldly refuses to release information or allow interviews with certain individuals who could expose some of the things he’s done wrong that none of us has bothered thinking about. And in the Senate, that same place where Charles Sumner was confronted by Preston Brooks, they have decided that the case has not been proved adequately due to lack of facts, ignoring the reality that all access to fact has been blocked by the President with cruel whimsy.
Donald Trump’s primary talent as a politician is his ability to revise history to prove that he’s never lost at anything, not once, ever. He can help people believe that, despite what they once thought they always knew. Now they know that they were always wrong. They become open to a new version of truth. This is why President Trump, now a three time champion, with a few contested losses on his record–really the referee’s fault!–has regained his crown.
Once a superstar business magnate, Donald Trump fell victim to the boisterous greed of 1980s hedonism. Pissed it all away and fell into a playboy swoon, his own orgy mansions–better than Hugh Hefner’s (was Trump banned after a few visits to the Playboy Mansion?)–casinos with lust and opulence literally carved into the walls.
They failed, all of them, Trump trying to play real world monopoly on the Atlantic City boardwalk Even worse were The Donald’s (who here hasn’t always hated that as a nickname? A nickname for anyone) side projects hoping to save face while his most expensive toys were repossessed. He had Trump Steaks and Trump Wine and Trump Toilet Paper and Trump Syringes and Trump Cock Rings, or some and many other of these sort of things. All of them–every last one, was a gutter ball failure. Trump College–a con man’s scam. Using the power of his name to attract gullible rubes, somehow convincing them that any of them could ever be anything like The Donald.
These people wanted to work for him. He is angling for another title shot. He puts this weaselly desperation on TV and then gets into character mocking and humiliating his applicants until they finally kick all but one of them off the show. The background of the program has an unsettling ‘reality TV’ vibe. The interactions between the Trump family, and whatever shadowy international businessperson or celebrity is hovering around the stage, are positively creepy. These is no love there, and next to no human emotion. It is all acquisitiveness and self-loathing, gimme gimme gimme whatever I can get from you and then I’ve move on without you. This is the public face of the Trump family.
Pardon me for editorializing, but it comes more from a fascination with the publicly displayed family dynamic of what amounts to our present Royal Family. Cast like a TV show (Trump’s second title went to TV triumph, a belt given up in order to fight for the world title in Washington, DC), the Trump administration and legal team reads like a Dick Tracy rogues gallery, and all the crazy ghouls and thugs and crybabies and the hard-nosed stick up artists, all of these creatures only make the show more entertaining.
Here’s what will go into history as the result of this barbarically displayed shit show of people saying the same lines over and over again, for eight hours a day, non-stop, for weeks and weeks and weeks: Because you convinced enough people that by refusing to turn over everything a judge has subpoenaed, you can have your lawyers say there is no evidence to prove wrongdoing. That is a new legal precedent. Run wild, crooked business folks! You are entering your golden age.
“What is more important to you, liberty or your life? I don’t know about you, but I believe patriotism to be about more than just loving the stars and stripes, the bald eagles and our towering monuments. Patriotism is about a love for your nation. Not the land–although of course this is important–but the whole community together, without which we could never have a civilization in the first place. A nation is about the people. It isn’t about how successful you have been in your personal or professional lives–congratulations for possessing the essential talent and will power that enables you to work so hard. We need the workers to build our society, but we need the people to build our union.”
I put this in quotes because that is the sort of thing some urgently sincere politician might ask while on the floor in Congress, but never in person. Such words will merely be some flowery spit of seeds onto the floor, nourishing the earth so that maybe one of those roots may grow. And so the battle is on between “It’s-All-About-Me,” the selfish and greedy mindset of cowardice that has infected people since Watergate (and Vietnam, JFK, the Red Scare and WWII before), and the far more manipulative, less physically violent and most easily poisoned Do-Gooder populism. It’s really might be considered an age of the shrilly demanding, self-titled “activists,” from every political side, outraged about something that will inevitably fester, metastasizing into unacknowledged prejudice in one form or another, them versus the brutally intolerant, extremely impatient, dictatorial-wannabe bullies that can do nothing other than shout you down.
And so, a broad and updating assessment of the debate of 2/16/2020:
- A final shuffling of papers and glares are exchanged as everyone prepares to get under way. Being a politician requires a lot of waiting around for the cameras to be fully in place.
- Amy Klobuchar is clearly pissed off. Not only is she relegated to the end by the comparative smallness of the remaining debate class, but she has to stand next to Buttigieg! The Senator wears the mask of professional irritation, which has been generously photographed for our consideration:
All these yapping children running around in circles–she wouldn’t put up with it from her daughter, and she certainly isn’t going to tolerate these jackasses screaming at each other. At times it is going to be difficult for Amy to hold herself back because some of the things these people say are just stupid. What they hell are any of them saying? Oh, and I’m sure they’ll interrupt when anyone else tries to answer a question. Good preparation for Trump, I suppose, who would be humiliated, with his thin skin and wild emotions. Call out his obvious inadequacies, and watch him shout things like “Do-Nothing Democrats and their fake news reporting the sham conspiracy about nothing ever happening!” or “I have more hair than anyone’s ever had.” Amy could just laugh at him, making things much much worse.
Amy Klobuchar might just eat somebody alive.
Senator Klobuchar clearly loathes
- Pete Buttigieg. But “Baby” Petey over there seems to be the only one who knows how to behave. Perhaps I see a little of myself in this hard working and very serious man, Amy thinks. He stands tall with a confident look, good delivery, and a great sense of humor. If only I could squeeze him and teach him all the mistakes I have made so he could be a better person.
And yet this little bastard, it appears that Amy might be thinking, “is stepping on my logical, realistic, forward thinking turf with his boyish charm and quaffed good looks. Plus he’s gay–not any sort of problem, I believe, for a single person on the stage–a wonderful boost to his election chances, now or in the near future as the millennial generation comes into their prime and elect more and more people from their proper time in history. That generation is afraid to let anyone know that they don’t understand differences. They also have a ‘string-up-and-tar-and-feather’ crowd culture, protesting anything and everything, even more absurdly than their Generation X parents and big brothers and sisters did while in college (–when I first arrived at the primary college where I took the most classes, there was a protest on the third day outside of one of the cafeterias. People were clinging to heavy, duel-sided white board signs, the smudges of previous causes wiped away on the back. Something like “Fire Dean So-and-so,” and the singularly ambiguous word “Bigot.” When the group was continuously ignored it led to rocks being throw at the windows. This protest was over the fact that there was only a single flavor of vegan ice cream being offered–vanilla, which some students thought was racist.)
A majority of their generation (and in politics it is usually the majority that rules) are terrified of being thought prejudiced in any way–even if their only prejudice is against the prejudiced! Mayor Pete has that going for him, plus he served as a lieutenant with the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI). He won a ‘Joint Service Commendation Medal’ for coordinating operations through both the intelligence wing and the Navy proper serving in Afghanistan, circa 2014. Mayor Pete’s resume is an impressive one, a graduate of Harvard College, then later moved along as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. At 25 he went to work for a progressive firm, McKinsey and Compant, which has an 85 year history (as I write this in early 2020) of helping restructure hiring practices for businesses throughout the nation.
Pete Buttigieg is a bowl of cream for the pussies of the new generation to lap up. Plus he’s a man.
- Bernie Sanders stands there sucking on his lip–he doesn’t need to look over his notes. Let’s go! The man is clearly agitated and desperately hoping he can keep his cool come prime time. Sanders is unprepared how to handle the eventually certain hostility that will break out of over allegations of sexism. No doubt there will be a few awkward jabs, brushing the face, then causing him to stumble. Neither side will be prepared to follow up an unexpected question or response. Bernie and
- Elizabeth Warren might just destroy themselves tonight.
Senator Warren, for her part, suffers from an unintended style of condescension, and the occasional unforgivable flaw of, Trump-like, declaring untruthful statements as absolute truth. She and Senator Sanders seem to have a great deal in common, but with all ambitious, like-minded people, they prefer to dig for flaws to exploit, an uncertain statement, a policy flip-flop, or a simple miswording; a stamina problem, the threat of unhinged hysteria striking one or the other (it is usually both with such overly emotional people). To be fair, Warren has a much more positive message, perhaps a result of her limited experience in government. The cranky old rooster from Vermont has worked with various branches of government it seems like forever. He has had the same message which he has barked out for more than thirty years. It seems (to him and his handful of truly radical followers) that he might finally vote on his proposed “fairness to all” legislation should he make it to the white house.
Bernie is a star, a richly admired man by his horde of angry followers. He was a runner up for MVP of the 2016 election cycle (Trump won MVP, no doubt much to the horror of those required to work with the man every single day).
One thing to watch for is the way every statement is delivered with “important speech” intentions. These openings are exhaustively prepared, and the heavy edits make the first few drafts unrecognizable. They will stare into the camera, addressing the people indifferently viewing, and they will try to pierce into your heart and soul. BIG promises are made, yet when asked ‘how,’ most questions will be answered as though your honest wonder makes you just-plain-stupid. “You don’t understand.” Next question–
It is fascinating from a sociological standpoint, watching politicians under the influence of our limited attention spans (thus the calm heartlessness of the tone in this as-it-happens commentary), and the dark reality that language gets thoroughly debased, another battle with babel; the barbaric past taking the lead. All that mugging and speechifying, everyone either deeply earnest or sarcastically drab, most lashing out their cynicism instead of good-natured cracks meant to make you laugh. There is so-much self-importance on the stage, those from the creaky back-channel of history, an imagined “better time” when people were polite and pretended to respect each other. There will be far less war. We can get rich after paying our taxes. America is good and cares about the well-being not just of her citizens, but of all people in the world. And it is these buzzed about ideas that finally make an impression on perspective voters. It does not matter whether we believe these things, but we certainly will remember them.
They stare into the camera, the candidates, then step up to the plate to take the first pitch. Sanders stands there sucking his lip, agitated, desperately trying to keep his cool. And although he won’t, the effort, for the moment, is almost cute.
- Joe Biden robotically stares down at his podium, shuffling papers and trying to make it look like he is actually working. There is no crease of anxiety, the former Vice President far too confident with his many years of experience to worry about all the stumbling gaffs he is about to make. His current presentation of himself displays the implication of hard-working integrity, soon to be undermined by the delightful quirks of “Weird” Uncle Joe. As we tabulate the sort of game Joe Biden must have to stay on track, as well as our questionable expectations about his performance, I will state that should the VP actually become our president I suspect he will spend his four years (and he would only serve four) sweetly nibbling us back to the annoyance and exacerbation that the nation barely tolerated with politics in the time before Trump stirred things up apparently for his own amusement.
Joe Biden is currently locked into a job resume that peaked in the same position as Aaron Burr, a revolutionary patriot who murdered an unquestioned hall-of-fame superstar, Alexander Hamilton, a much more significant figure in American history. Hamilton won two governmental MVPs throughout his time spent as Secretary of Treasury, as well as Rookie of the Year while serving under General Washington in the war. Burr won the Vice-Presidency under Thomas Jefferson. He is known for little other than his fateful duel. Eventually Biden will receive the high literary treatment with a fascinating two or three volume biography, probably an award winner, turning a long standing yet mediocre politician into a far more important figure than he ever actually was.
Amy is scowling, her campaign fumbling no matter how clearly she represents her message. She knows what she wants to say and is an expert at how to respond (she would absolutely destroy an unhinged Donald Trump in a debate, humiliating a man with little other to say than how inadequate he finds everyone else, regardless of the context. He has very little to offer other than cynicism. Amy stares into the crowd, perhaps seeking comfort in her small family of love.
Pete, on the other hand, also not needing any notes, stands there smiling, bright-eyed, perhaps even standing on his tippytoes. He is looking at the panel, more ready than anybody else to get under way. He appears to be preparing a dissertation. Peter is a very good boy, a real teacher’s pet.
- Tom Steyer–poor Tom Steyer, who seems like a genuinely descent man, is very sincere in his concerns about President Trump. He also needs no notes, and yet there is a slump to his shoulders. Compared to the straight, upright composure of Biden and Buttigieg, Steyer looks like someone already conceding.
If we want to talk about media bias, take a close look at how Wolf Blitzer asks people questions. He has the same essential ask for all the candidates. He begins by throwing a softball version on why each one of them would make a good commander in chief of the military. His old friends Biden and Sanders get a grazing treatment. Biden, for one, finishes his remarks exactly on time.
Next he asks Warren the same question, but a certain cruelty has seeped into Blitzer’s tone. It is obvious that Wolf does not like her.
So Biden stumbles over a lost time frame with some lost track assurances, Bernie smiles, awaiting the difficulties, and Warren stammers her way through answers fewer and fewer people are interested in hearing. When it gets around to Amy and Pete, Blitzer frames the same question with “Compared to Pete Buttigieg, you, Senator Klobuchar . . .” And so a confrontation has been scripted between the two most professional and competent debaters standing there. Tear each other apart! the television producers seem to be nudging. Destroy everyone and everything! Think of the ratings!
Pete Buttigieg is frankly something to behold as a politician. Surely a future President (if not sooner then later), this is a man who always seems to have the right answer. His speeches are beautifully written and excellently delivered and he tries to offer a teaspoon of hope with every statement he makes. However, if we peek between the cracks in his stance, we discover another phrase that goes back to the post-Civil War era. We see yet another candidate promising to “Make America Great Again.”
The way Tom Steyer is asked the same question reeks of a “Who the fuck are you again?” Steyer harms himself again by being much too polite (that excellent grooming and upbringing damning him to a mere billionaire). His response is kind. He even compliments the answers other people gave, those he strongly disagrees with, without stating that he believes they are wrong He treats everyone with respect, a losing game in modern politics.
Mr. Steyer seems like a genuinely kind man. He is a true do-gooder, hoping he can help everyone lead better lives. He is not messing around: he wants to save the world from itself. He thinks he knows how to do it too. He wants to reallocate some of the money from the military in order to keep everybody safe, warm, and well-fed. This seemingly wonderful man simply wants to end all war and help everyone be happy.
Unfortunately Steyer’s wistful philosophy does not fit into the brutal and monstrous world that Donald Trump has left. If on the impossible chance that Steyer miraculously wins the election, every one of those tyrants Trump admires and has been paling around with are going to see in Tom Steyer’s goodness the worst of all weakness in the wake of their modern Crusade.
But the debates are merely a sideshow. The debate with Trump will be a little different, and with the right Democratic candidate these shows could be profoundly brutal or watching an already unbalanced man publicly lose his mind. This is one of the many grim spectacles we have to look forward to over the next nine months.
As for Iowa? Here, I’ll put down some gamblers odds. My predictions do not particularly resemble the televised polls. Since youth vote is the key to this election, it is important to realize that the young rarely ever take political polls and those who do tend to be older, more conservative (whether liberal or not), and are most likely to believe that their vote counts even more than it actually does. No, I am predicting this through numerous veils, not the least of which is the telltale sign I noticed when predicting that Donald Trump was going to win in 2016. It’s social media, the Trump supporters now curiously resembling the smug pro-Hilary folks back then, certain of their victory and treating everyone like shit because they believed there was nothing anyone could do about it. Those are the Trump supporters now, while the Democrats have become the voices of disgust and rage that so unified the Trump movement. It is a serious reversal of public attitude creeping into our line of vision. And with the inconsistent, dare I say bi-polar nature of our nation’s joy and outrage, like the zig zag of the stock market’s daily rises and falls, it would not be too far off to see an entirely different world vision replace Trump’s. We will wait and see.
Before I place the odds here to close out this very long piece, I want to briefly talk about what to expect from later sections of this piece: It will follow specifically the battles, the election results, and the reactions among candidates, surrogates, opposition, the President and the public at large. We will discuss how the media from any angle twists the knife into those sorest spots. Hopefully I will learn something worth imparting to you. And so, in honor of the Super Bowl (shit, in less than 18 hours from the time I post this) and the grand event of the Iowa Caucus, I present you my prediction:
- Amy Klobuchar
- (close behind) Pete Buttgieg
- Bernie Sanders
- (a distant fourth) Joe Biden
- (a sagging) Elizabeth Warren
- (nearly someone other than) Tom Styer
The reason I select one and two is because Senator Klobuchar and Mayor Pete are both very polished and certainly moderately progressive enough to help voters to feel better about themselves for selecting them. Sanders is the same sort of wrecking ball he was last time and he will have the same interference trying to keep him out. Biden appears to be losing his mind in a less aggressive, although otherwise similar way as Donald Trump. For Warren it is over. Steyer, see above.
Enjoy whichever event feels more like the Super Bowl, folks. And oh yeah (and remember, I do not change this in the future even if I am very, very wrong) KC: 24, SF:10.