Category: politics

We are heading for the abyss

What will they do if they succeed in overturning the election? There was no Republican platform, just a pledge to follow him. So where does he propose to take us?

What is it that only he can do that is so important that it’s worth overturning a democracy for? Will it be enough just to say that he conquered COVID, beat Hillary, and didn’t collude with foreigners? That he, and hence red state America, is great? Then what? Four years of vengeance against the blue states? And then a Trump dynasty to rule over the ruins?

It seems more and more likely to me that the election will be thrown into the House and the red states will elect him, just because he demands it. They are testing the limits of the system, and yes, it is breaking.

So much for law and order; we are heading for the abyss.

They really are burning down the house

You know what the hardest thing for me to accept about Trump’s structural support is? Not the ignorance and neediness of so many Americans, which is sad but commensurable. It’s the cynicism and fundamental lawlessness of the people they trust to lead them. I look at McConnell and Rudy Giuliani, at Mike Pompeo and Mike Pence and I wonder if they bother to pay for the TicTacs they pick up at airport newsstands, never mind their taxes. They lie, they cheat, they steal–they don’t give a damn about anyone or anything but themselves. They make me feel like such a sucker I can’t tell you. Why did I ever waste a minute feeling guilty about anything when I could have been robbing my neighbors blind?

When you read about early Protestantism, you’re struck by the terror they had of antinomianism–the heretical belief that once Jesus saves you, you can rob, murder, and fornicate to your heart’s content. Someday if I catch him sober, I’d like to have a chat about that with Jerry Falwell, Jr.

The Center Won’t Hold

It’s too early for postmortems as this thing could still go even further south, but I do have some emotions. Trump has turned out to be 100 times worse than even pessimists thought he’d be four years ago, but he is exactly as popular as he was back then, if not a little more-so. That’s just a fact.

I wish I could go on to say that we as a nation just have to make our peace with that and accept our differences, but when your differences go to the heart of your values, you can’t paper them over. His side hates my side; they want to destroy my way of life. I can’t shrug that off, anymore than they can shrug off the threat they believe I pose to them.

So, the center won’t hold, even if Biden gets to run a divided government. I think the next four years may be even worse than the last four years, because we at least cherished the hope of repudiating him.

The center isn’t going to hold.

Amy Coney Barrett

I’m being deluged with “we must stop Trump from filling RBG’s seat” e-mails and messages, and they are not moving my dial at all. That shoe dropped back in 2016. It’s been obvious since Garland that McConnell would seat anyone a Republican nominated, even if they were nominated on January 15, 2021. I don’t care about Barrett, or what people who know her attest. She’s accepted the nomination from Trump some 40 days before the election; that tells me all I need to know. If I were a senator, I wouldn’t meet with her, I wouldn’t attend the hearings, and I wouldn’t cast a vote pro or con. She can’t be stopped, but she shouldn’t have a shred of bipartisan legitimacy. Let her win by 51-0.

What we are fighting for

I’ve stopped believing that anything I say or write about politics makes any kind of difference. Like religion, like conspiracism (which is religion at its most primitive and unformed), politics is driven by the emotions attendant on one’s feelings of power or powerlessness.

Trumpites fixate on his power because they know they have none. “Look at me,” he says. “I went to the best schools, have the best genes, the greatest mind, the most money, the hottest wives. I won the White House. I am immune to Covid. And all you have to do to participate in my greatness is love me unconditionally.” Deep down, they are nihilists; they know the world is on fire, that they and their children are doomed. But at least he makes their enemies suffer in the meantime.

Democrats believe they have power and agency and potentially a future, but only if they acknowledge the hard facts. “Look at him,” we say. “He is fat and stupid and a serial bankrupt, a lech, a liar, and a loser. We are in terrible shape as a nation. Thousands of us are dying.”

Trump gives his people a sugar high and we give them a cold bath.

“Those of us with money and security owe our good fortune to structural inequities that we wouldn’t tolerate for a moment if we weren’t their beneficiaries,” we say. “We have to make sacrifices. We have to pull together and put our shoulders to the wheel.” As Nietzsche said of the Christians, it’s a philosophy that could only appeal to a sucker or a slave. The only advantage to it is that it supposes a future that’s worth fighting for.

Fear

I’ve had cancer this year; I’ve lost a dear friend to suicide. More intimately than COVID-19 (which raged outside my Brooklyn window this spring, but not inside my house, thank God), it’s given me perspective on the plausibility of some worst-case scenarios. The worst can happen. It often does.

Anyway, I sent a donation to the Biden campaign yesterday, and this morning I got an email from his people asking me why I’d done it. “Fear,” I answered. Then they asked me if I want to give them money on a weekly basis. I almost answered yes.

Some more convention-inspired thoughts

If Trump is reelected, I don’t think the country will hold together for a minute; there will be general strikes and riots and it will look like Syria. If Biden is elected, the stock market bubble will burst as people realize that the bottom has genuinely and truly fallen out of the economy. The pandemic will eventually recede and the economy resurge, but not on anybody’s schedule. The challenges that we have to overcome–economic inequality, race, environmental degradation, climate change–won’t change, but the national context in which they are either addressed or exacerbated is completely up in the air.

Whether it’s Biden or Trump, in a few years American Exceptionalism will sound like as crazy a creed as QAnon.

Trump as Messiah

Greg Sargent does a good job of summarizing the most Trumpolotrous moments of the convention, which seems from the coverage this morning to have been a festival of cultism. I was only able to watch about a minute and a half of it before I had to turn off the TV (the coffee shop lady who prayed to Jesus and got PPP from Trump, but who feared that Joe Biden would destroy all that she, he, and Jesus had worked for).

I guess that’s what it feels like for normal, everyday Americans, when forced to watch “radical liberal” shows like Anderson Cooper 360, see football players kneeling, or hear Anthony Fauci pouring cold water on Donald Trump’s latest medical insight.

All Trump’s brand needs to do next is the impossible

Since Trump failed in real estate, casinos, sports, and airlines, he’s built a successful second career as a brander. The brand he flogs is his persona–brash, brilliant, scrappy, over-sexed, and authentic in a cheesy, inauthentic way–and it has worked well enough when it’s slapped on gold-plated hotels and condos, golf resorts, clothes, steaks, vodka, even real estate seminars. It worked for a fantastical TV show about business success, and it opened up some really profitable money-laundering opportunities. It worked for a political campaign in which his supposed street smarts prevailed over the cluelessness and malice of the elites. It even seems to be working for a deranged death cult, in which he heroically but secretly battles the latter-day Elders of Zion–a vast secret society of child-molesting Jeffrey Epsteins who control everything except Trump and the Q believers.

If Trump’s brand was faced with a global pandemic, you know what it would do? It would prove itself smarter than the doctors, more efficient than the politicians, more caring than the blood-sucking fat cats who seek to profit off it. It would do the impossible, curing it at a stroke, just like it built the ice skating rink, just like it crushed the Clintons and sent Obama back to Africa in shame.

This is Trump’s challenge over the next 70 days: to hew to his brand proposition with absolute discipline. But this time, he actually has to DO something, because he already occupies the most powerful office in the world. Announcing that he can cure the virus, restore the economy, and put black people back in their places isn’t enough: he actually has to do so.

From the producers of The Apprentice

The New York Times reports that Trump’s convention is coming into shape, shepherded into production by a team from The Apprentice.

Conventions bore me, whether they are live or virtual, Democratic or Republican. I didn’t watch much of the Democratic production in real time, though I did catch Brayden Harrington and Jacqueline Brittany, who I thought were awesome. Biden was pretty good too.

The Republican event will also feature real people, including the kid who sneered at the Native American and that attractive couple who defended their St. Louis mansion from protestors with automatic weapons. Trump will give a major speech every night, supported by his kids and spouse, along with Larry Kudlow, Rudolph Giuliani, Kelly Ann Conway, and other rarely-seen figures. There will be a Democrats-for-Trump feature too, though the participants have yet to be announced. I predict that Trump will campaign against Kamala Harris and the media rather than Biden, and that his theme will likely be the booming economy, a Covid response that is the envy of the world, Mid East peace, America’s rising stature in the world, how he has done more for black people than any president since Lincoln, and how those same black people are plotting to murder us in our sleep.

It all sounds like a train wreck to me, but what do I know? I’m sure Republicans will say they loved every second of it, whether they tune in or not. And whatever polling bounce he gets will be trumpeted loudly.