November 11, 2016

Calm Down, for Christ's Sake

So we live in a country (and a world, for that matter) populated by a horrifyingly high proportion of hysterics. If you're one of the many, many people having nervous breakdowns of various kinds and of varying intensity: get a grip. And people accuse me of being a drama queen.

It's bad enough that scads of not terribly bright individuals now display screeching hysteria in the wake of Trump's election. What is worse is that so many of these hysterics proudly flaunt their hysteria: they appear to think it signifies how sensitive they are, how much they care (about racism, misogyny, the climate, the possibility of war, etc. and so forth and so on), how deeply they wish to steer the United States away from disasters that have overtaken other states in the past.

But their hysteria doesn't reveal or confirm any of that. To the contrary, it reveals a deep failure of understanding, beginning with a grasp of the nature of the authoritarian-militarist-corporatist system that now dominates and consumes our lives. Here are a few clues, which I urge you to consider carefully. These examples are, as they say, ripped from the headlines within the last few minutes.

First, Vice President-Elect Pence will now lead the transition, replacing Chris Christie in that role:
The president-elect told advisers he wanted to tap Mr. Pence’s Washington experience and contacts to help move the process along, according to people familiar with the discussions. An executive committee, which will include members of Congress, will advise Mr. Pence as the process moves forward.

Mr. Christie, along with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, and Michael T. Flynn, a retired lieutenant general who has been a top campaign supporter, will serve as vice chairs of the transition, the sources said.
The funniest bit in that story is this:
The latest name to be swept into the speculation maelstrom is Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase. He is said to be a candidate for secretary of the Treasury, according to a report by CNBC, although the banker — who was close to President Obama — has repeatedly denied being interested in the job.
The story goes on to point out several reasons why it may not be Dimon, and it might well be someone else. But I guarantee you this: Trump is not going to pick a Treasury Secretary who is determined to put scads of Wall Street criminals in jail, or even one of them. And he will most likely pick someone who, like Dimon, is intimately familiar with and closely connected to the existing financial regime.

And then there's this: Team Trump is already filled with Washington insiders:
To shape his administration, President-elect Donald Trump is drawing squarely from the "swamp" he has pledged to drain.

Trump's transition team is staffed with long-time Washington experts and lobbyists from K Street, think tanks and political offices.
You can read the rest if you want the bloody details.

So what about all of Trump's talk about "draining the swamp"? Well, he is draining the swamp -- directly into his own office.

All of this was entirely predictable. The system that is killing us -- and if it's not killing you, or at least hurting you a lot, you're probably reading the wrong blog -- has a life of its own, and it places enormous constraints on anyone who becomes even, yes, President. It is indisputably true that Trump is a disgusting, vile human being. It is also true that his election gives tremendous support to certain very ugly strains in our country. But the terrible reasons for which certain people voted for Trump are not the only reasons that other people voted for him.

It may be the case that Trump implements some of his campaign promises about immigration, for example. That would also be disgusting and vile -- but I implore you to remember that our entire national discussion about immigration is disgusting and vile. How could it be otherwise in a nation which is fundamentally racist, and which has its origin in racial genocide? Tragically, that article about immigration and racism is as timely today as it was nine years ago; not so coincidentally, Ann Coulter had a starring role in that long ago post -- and Coulter, of course, has been one of Trump's biggest boosters from the very beginning. Whenever racism seeks to extend its deadly reach, Coulter is sure to be nearby, cheering and whooping for further persecution and destruction to be visited upon those people.

And honestly, people, Hillary Clinton has a vicious racist streak herself, and the same is true of many (most) of those in the ruling class. And if the election had gone the other way, what ugly strains would Clinton's election have served to strengthen and endorse? It is almost certain that a Clinton presidency would have led to military confrontation with Russia at some point. We might actually be safer with Trump on that score. Which is not to say he won't get us into some viciously stupid war of "choice," even though he has promised not to; again, the constraints of the system might well lead him inexorably into conflict. And I seriously doubt he would mind all that much, if at all, since he could demonstrate how manly and strong he is. I also remind you that anyone who wants to be president is deeply and irreparably damaged psychologically. We might say that all such people are deranged. I do not use "deranged" as hyperbole, but in the strict clinical sense.

I have a confession. I had accepted the conventional wisdom that Clinton would win, and shame on me for that. On election night, about 11 PM, when it began to become clear that Trump might win, I felt a small sense of relief. Not that I was or am at all happy that Trump has been elected. I didn't vote at all, since I am Against Voting in a system such as ours, and my strong preference is that the national government dissolve in a fine mist. But I found the prospect of a Clinton presidency unutterably depressing. I didn't know how I would withstand four years of it, let alone the possibility of eight, God help us. And when Trump actually won, I thought: "Well, at least it might be a little more interesting, and perhaps it will offer some unexpected developments in some ways." As indicated above, I think the likelihood for genuine surprise is severely delimited and, if there were to be a genuine surprise, it would probably be an awful one. But Clinton ... years of gray, lightless, airless drudgery, slowly grinding us into the dirt. At least, Trump holds out the promise of not being entirely boring and predictable. Given the nauseating spectacle of our national politics, I admit that that is not nothing to me. Hate me for it if you want to, but there it is.

I'm working on a longer piece about all of this, which I hope to complete in the next few days. But I wanted to get a few initial thoughts down, and I mainly wanted to urge everyone to calm the fuck down. Have a drink. Some some pot. We can do that legally in California now! It's pathetic that change on an issue of that kind should be viewed as a great advance of enlightenment, when it's obvious to a bright six-year-old that such matters are none of the government's goddamned business.

So, much more to come on all this.

(I have a number of posts in the works. I've been slowed down by yet another heat wave, which still continues today. It's been in the nineties most of this week. And then my rotten health, and a few other issues that have distracted me mightily. But I'm writing again now. New posts should be coming fairly regularly at this point. Some will be long; some may be very short. I also happen to be almost completely broke at the moment. Seriously: I'm down to my last hundred dollars. No money for some bills that have to be paid, no money for food when what I have runs out in several days, no money for anything at all. If you have some extra money sloshing around, Sasha and I would be hugely grateful to be its recipients. Yes, Sasha is fine, and wonderful, and sweet beyond description. If any claim to sanity remains to me -- I'll let you be the judge -- Sasha is the reason.)