The Story is Getting Away from its Would-be Authors

Re Trump’s seemingly abrupt collapse and Warren’s inexorable rise–it’s not what people believe about a political figure; it’s how they make them feel. Warren feels fresher and livelier than the people who are supposed to be more broadly appealing, just as Trump did three years ago as compared to Jeb Bush. Advertisers know this–it’s really hard to get people excited about a product that they’re not mostly sold on already. Just as Bush or Hillary Clinton did in 2015, Kamala Harris seemed market-ready on paper, but she failed to launch. Even without Trump’s international rat-fucking, Biden was already faltering. It happens.

I mean, you can say you’re strong 1000 times a day with ruthless message discipline and broadcast it in 100 well-made ads a minute and that will get you somewhere to be sure, but if you actually ARE strong, that will get you further. Trump seemed not just strong but invincible to the people who didn’t hate him three years ago. He still does to some of them, but if you weren’t all in before, you’re probably seeing him differently now that he’s acting like a loser. It’s a whole lot harder to convince people that you are winning when you are having a big tantrum.

As for the mystery of how so many people could have NOT hated him–well, that I can’t fathom, but I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with ideology, policy, or principles of any kind. As conservatives used to say, it probably has a lot to do with people’s characters.

I Surrender

Forgive me for staying away. Epstein has made me question everything skeptical I ever wrote about conspiracy theories–clearly the Illuminati does exist, runs Hellfire Clubs, and works closely with the British royals. My best guess is that he is a reptilian from the planet Archon. This morning I woke up to Roy Cohn’s protege’s Twitter-howls about Israel-hating Communists. The smartset on Twitter says it’s a ploy to distract us from the concentration camps on the border and the roundups in the cities. Concentration camps? Roundups? Jesus Christ.

In August 2016, I sat down and read through THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA and IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE, as a kind of just-in-case–if he did get elected, I wanted to have some literary takes on what a fascist America would look like. Now I know.

No, I haven’t really surrendered. But sometimes I get the distinct notion that the Democrats have. I don’t pray, but if I did I would pray that I am wrong.

Trump is the Devil

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Jelani Cobb had a great post on The New Yorker’s website about Michael Cohen.

What I love about it is this: “The hallmark of a great team leader is an ability to make his teammates play better; Trump has an uncanny ability to bring out the worst in those around him.”

It’s not just uncanny, it’s unarguably true, even if you are a Trump cultist. I mean, if Cohen is such a pathological liar, then why else did Trump keep him around for so long except to lie about him? Frankly, it’s why Trump has restored my faith in religion–because I’m so sure he is the Devil. If this was the Twilight Zone, the camera would pull back to reveal the audience, and we would realize that we are all minor (and some of us major) characters in a morality play. If this was Dallas, James Madison would wake up from a nightmare and realize that he needed to rewrite Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution to better-specify “treason” and “high crimes.”

An impeachment bid will undoubtedly fail in the Senate and probably provoke a fatal political backlash. I can easily imagine Biden winning the nomination by arguing that left wing Democrats have gone too far, effectively handing 2020 to Trump. But how can Congress not impeach him? A day doesn’t go by in which he doesn’t commit three or four impeachable acts. Honestly, I don’t think they have any choice. Which is also why I think he’s the Devil.

Sledgehammered

My mother, who lived to be a little older than Nancy Pelosi is today, and who was tiny and ethnic and stubborn and opinionated all her life, would have been so tickled to see that the first politician to humble Trump is cut out of the same cloth that she was.

“You have to be respectful of the office that he holds,” Pelosi says dryly. “Perhaps even more respectful of the office he holds than he is.” And, “You always start with a feather, until you get to the sledgehammer.”

If you just look at the words Trump read off the teleprompter yesterday (before he got to the duct tape stuff), you’d think the federal workers had gone on strike to support him and that with their help, he had brought Congress to its knees. But if you looked at his face, you could see that he was broken.

It was a good look.

Things May be Tipping

I get nervous when I am feeling optimistic, because I understand that Trump and Trumpism are symptoms of a much deeper and systemic rot, but it seems to me that things are tipping pretty dramatically right now.

Michael Cohen’s testimony on February 7 is going to be a huge event, and Mueller’s report is likely to follow pretty quickly. If the report is suppressed, that will be almost more devastating than if it is released and it is certain to leak. And I can’t imagine that Trump will even deliver a State of the Union address if the government is still closed.

Yes, a Pence presidency will be worse in many ways than a Trump presidency, because Pence really does have an agenda and the Trump courts and McConnell’s Senate will back him up to the hilt and Lindsay Graham will become his favorite golf partner. And yes, it’s likely that the Democrats are going to make a mess of things during the primary season. But it really does feel like the fever is starting to break.

The Big Plot Twist

…is that we are all characters in a bad work of fiction. It was a staple of the Twilight Zone and at least one science fiction story I can think of. I read it when I was a kid. The protagonist was this pathetic schmo whose whole life has been one ridiculous pratfall after another. At the end, he finds out that he is the comic relief in a Truman-show like TV production. Somehow he finds the producer, pitches a plot twist in which he becomes the hero, and turns his fortunes around. It was a silly premise but memorable enough that I never forgot it.

It doesn’t seem possible, but this is apparently true. It even features the “I alone can save you, believe me” riff. Could it be that the writers of the story that we are all supernumeraries in are so lazy that they are plagiarizing a ‘50s TV show? Click the video; you’ll be relieved to see that it ends with Trump’s arrest.

Accelerating the Climate of Hate

From the pay-walled History of Economics Review, which means I’ve only read the below quote and have no idea of the context, in re Volume IX of the Collaborative Biography of F.A. Hayek, which is way too expensive for me to afford:

“The pick of this volume is Arthur Goldwag’s brief, balanced and incisive analysis of the Austrian School of Economics, “Hayek and ‘The New Hate’” (Chapter 4), which focuses on his rather ambiguous relationship with hate-mongers on the American far right.”

Would love to see the book and the review some day!