This can’t be right… Donald-Bloody-Trump is on every freaking channel!
There’s a famous “curse” (we’ll argue attribution another time) “May you live in interesting times” — meant, usually, ironically. Our times, it turns out, will be among the most interesting (and historic) ever. The forces of right wing darkness, repression and greed — forces we told ourselves were dealt with at the end of World War II — have emerged from the rotting chrysalis they were hiding in all these years (while they mutated into a vicious, racist, ignorant Euro-thug) — and sprung upon the west’s liberal democracies.
Right wing darkness has always had a home here, in America — right along with every other group that found a home here. The only difference is, right wing darkness got it into its head that only it was allowed to have a home here in America. That was something RW darkness told itself. At no time was it ever true.
It is exhausting living in these here times. Even a decent night’s sleep feels inadequate to deal with the average morning’s headlines. Outrage fatigue is a very real thing. I get it. I’ve felt it. It would be nice to think about something else for a change.
And that’s exactly what they NEED us to do (never mind “want” us to do). The Forces Of Darkness rely on our exhaustion. Exhaustion is acquiescence and that act of giving in instantly normalizes the darkness. That darkness is now “what is”. Accepted as one of the possibilities. That’s the mistake.
It can NEVER be accepted as one of the possibilities. That means not only not accepting it but making it clear that it won’t be accepted ever. That means saying it out loud the moment it happens and forever thereafter until it stops. That means remaining outraged about it while remaining outraged about everything else that deserves our constant outrage.
Sorry about the bad news. The answer’s no — we cannot change the channel. Reality’s like a pathogen. It doesn’t care what you think about it. It doesn’t care if you want to bury your head in the sand (or refuse to vaccinate yourself) — it will do what it does regardless and if you do nothing to prepare yourself, it will kill you one way or another.
Let’s get this straight: without Russia MAKING him president, Donald J Trump would not BE president.
We felt it collectively on Election Night 2016 as the results went toward the unexpected. It felt strange — not just because it wasn’t going the way we expected. No, it felt strange on a whole other subcutaneous level, down in our guts where our animal selves live. Our animal sense got it immediately. This stinks.
Trump winning the election felt like a lie. I still cringe on hearing the word “President” when attached to Trump’s name. It doesn’t compute or add up. I wouldn’t want him as the president of my condo association never mind of the United States.
Trump’s “win” (quotation marking it feels totally honest) felt like a lie. Like the Truth had been compromised somehow. Marginalized. That would make sense — that Trump would come for the Truth first. Truth will always be Trump’s enemy. That and human decency.
Chapter One in Authoritarianism For Dummies makes it abundantly clear: Destroy the Truth first!
From the moment even his campaign started, Trump — like a good prodigal authoritarian — went after the Truth. If he lost, he insisted, the election was rigged. The trick wasn’t so much denying the Truth as getting the rest of us to buy into his version — and damned if the American Main Stream Media didn’t oblige. How long did it take to normalize “Mexicans are rapists?”
“Grab em by the pussy” normalized even further. To be fair, it grabbed pussies had to compete with “but her emails”. You can see how that’d be challenging…
Though he sucks at everything else, Trump excels at destroying things from the inside out. He’s like a virus, always trying to turn everything else into him. That includes America.
The Mueller Report did not deal with the totality of Russia’s interference in or impact on Election 2016. They didn’t deal with the totality of Trump’s multi-faceted criminality. They didn’t deal with all the other ways (aside from Wikileaks) that Russian actors & Trump actors played nicely together for the purpose of destroying American Democracy. It was never in their purview (as much as some of us hoped it would be).
The Mueller Report came back “smaller” than we expected in part because Team Mueller’s investigation was continually compromised and obstructed by everyone on Team Trump — even the ones Team Mueller thought were cooperating. This is no ordinary group of criminals up to no good.
These are traitors and seditionists. These are confederates and anti-American greedists who cannot abide that they are already a minority party representing a minority (shrinking minority) point of view.
Want to know why Mitch McConnell won’t protect our election infrastructure? It’s because he knows for a fact that without Russia literally STEALING election 2016 on Trump’s and the GOP’s benefit, Hillary Clinton would be president now. We shouldn’t be naive. A Clinton presidency would have been under constant siege from every one of these nefarious asshats — at Russia’s urging and behest.
But we wouldn’t be facing a moment of very real peril.
We’re getting the story now in dribs and drabs. Donald Trump has been a work in progress for Putin going back years. So has the Republican Party. Election 2016. Brexit was a dry run for Election 2016. Election 2016 succeeded beyond Vladimir Putin’s wildest dreams — not only did he put his own guy in the White House, he set in motion the means to keep us under his thumb forever via permanent (Republican) minority rule.
The Projector In Chief TOLD us this was so almost as soon as he “won”: He knew questions about his legitimacy were themselves legitimate. That scared the crap out of him — which he projected like the manic sociopath huffed up on powdered Adderall that he is.
I dare anyone to look at a SINGLE thing Trump’s done since “winning” that hasn’t looked like, felt like or sounded like he wasn’t compromised in every way imaginable.
Better yet, let a thousand words do the talking…
I’ll repeat: without Russia’s direct help, influence, money & ACTIVE MEASURES, Donald Trump doesn’t win the presidency of the United States. Hell, he doesn’t even get his corrupt, bloated orange ass through the primaries — which is followed by the Republicans coming up empty.
Donald Trump won nothing in 2016. It’s questionable if the GOP won much of what they claim they won. If a single dollar of money flowed from Russia into a single Republican campaign coffer (lots more than a single dollar flowed), every victory by every Republican has to be re-examined in the light of conspiracy to defraud the American electorate and commit Treason.
When we call someone “evil”, we usually imagine Bond Villains, the Manson Family, Nazis. The man who sold Fred Trump rubbers.
And while what Donald Trump is doing to this country every day absolutely rises to the level of Uber Villain, Donald Trump himself… how to put this… he simply isn’t all that “Uber”. Never mind being “Uber”, Trump can’t even swing being mediocre”. He’s too flat-out incompetent to even be a sub-par Bond Villain. He’s a Schmofeld instead of Blofeld, utterly incapable of running anything bigger than a Mom N Pop Money Laundering Shoppe.
There are evil people on the planet. Vladimir Putin is one of them. Bashir al Assad is another. Kim Jong-Un. Donald Trump however is a pretender to True Evil. Even amongst the truly evil, Trump’s just a piker.
The truth is even Hitler had to overcome his own core mediocrity to become “HITLER”. Wasn’t much of a soldier, not much of a painter. He thought highly of himself as a writer but without all those brown-shirted thugs standing behind him, Hitler doesn’t rise to power. Hitler came from a place of pure banality to become one of the most evil people in the history of people.
Donald Trump has a lot of the same qualities — except he’s not nearly the writer Hitler was. Trump’s never written a word in his life.
As much as I might want to see the world through another person’s eyes, it’s a physical impossibility. The best I can ever really hope for is to imagine what the world literally looks like as they see it. It’s a fact — we all experience “experience” differently.
Imagine a cube sitting alone on a vast, featureless plain. From the cube’s point of view, all one can see — turning 360 degrees — is plain. From the plain’s perspective however, there’s endless plain — and a cube. Differing perspectives see differing things. But one of the two perspectives saw everything (or more of everything) while the other failed to see a key detail.
As a Nation, we stand at a moment of existential crisis because we have lost perspective — and our perspective was dubious to begin with.
How is it that a criminal and traitor occupies the White House and we are seemingly powerless to remove him from office? How is that all this information about Donald Trump’s criminality — including 488 pages of Mueller Report — and we STILL can’t even officially accuse the man of what he’s demonstrably done?
It’s like the Truth is that cube sitting in the middle of vast, featureless plain — and we, living inside the Truth, can’t see it because we’re so “close to it”. If we could just get some perspective, we’d get it. Our news media has a related problem. They want to get at the truth — but don’t seem to realize that the deep dives they take — while detailed — aren’t adding significantly to our overall knowledge because they’re too focused on detail. Or on the wrong details…
A story (like Trump’s with Russia, for instance) is a mosaic. Each tile is significant. The problem is, our Main Stream News Media — while awfully good at boring into any particular tile — have a tendency (while boring in on the particular tile that’s drawn their interest) to forget all the other tiles in the mosaic.
Some of them even forget that the thing they’re looking at is part of a mosaic. They convince themselves that the piece they’re looking at IS the whole picture while the Whole Picture actually looks a lot like this —
On a related note — and a similar metaphor — there are the numbers crunchers like NBC’s Steve Kornacki. Kornacki can tell you a lot of fascinating detail about the numbers themselves — how a district voted historically, how a particular candidate has fared with a particular group of voters. But Kornacki’s assumption that the past is prologue doesn’t apply to now. We’ve never had an actual traitor as POTUS — and we’ve never had one of our two political parties committed to keeping that traitor in power.
The details on the ground matter more than the fact that there’s “ground”. Put another way, Number crunchers like Steve Kornacki can wax rhapsodic about a grain of sand (how small it is — or big compared to other grains of sand, what kind of rock it came from, how old it is, what its future probably is) …
Yeah — Kornacki can show you the beauty in a grain of sand. But beyond that things get sketchy…
Almost as important as knowing about the grain of sand is knowing where the grain of sand lives. And that’s something Kornacki can only guess at — because he’s lost perspective (and maybe never had it to begin with). For all Kornacki knows, the grain of sand he’s fixated on comes from here…
But, for all Steve knows, it could just as easily come from the surface of Mars…
It’s lack of perspective that first fed the ludicrous idea that “both sides do it”. “Both sides do it” always functions without any sense of scale — or perspective. To the “both sides do it” crowd, Bernie Madoff and Jean Valjean (from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables) are both thieves — never mind that one ripped off people to the tune of billions while the other stole bread to feed the hungry. The respective-less Both Sides Do It club says thievery is thievery is thievery (if poor people or people of color do it).
Storytellers need to be able to pull the camera back as far as it will go — and then further still. A storyteller with no perspective is a person to whom that story is being told.
They’re like a cube sitting on a wide open, featureless plain…
I know I am far from alone in hating you. I’m sure you learned long ago to ignore being hated — because so many people have hated you your whole life. Being an empath by nature, my impulse is to empathize with that version of you. I imagine you were bullied repeatedly in every schoolyard you ever stood in. You have that look…
This is hard to confess but I’m here to be honest — just like my blog says: No bullshit. If I had ever met you in a schoolyard, I would probably have bullied you, too. back in the day. I never physically bullied anyone — I was way too short to do that. I used sarcasm instead. I am not proud that I hurt people using that sarcasm. If I could go back in time, I would apologize to each and every person I did that to and ask if there was any way to make it up to them.
I would feel crushed if they said no. Crushed but deserving of that feeling. That’s why I feel okay about hating you, Mitch.
I think I’ve evolved from the short-of-stature, too-quick-to-open-fire-at-everyone schoolyard person I was. I’ve learned that hurting people is bad for them and bad for me, too. But there are exceptions — people who regularly hurt other people. I feel no obligation to be kind to their feelings whatsoever. I’m empathetic but a little pragmatic, too.
I believe in Justice.
And I believe, Mitch, that YOU have evaded Justice for far, far too long. If me being unkind can help to change that? I’m all in. So here we are…
I hate you, Mitch, first and foremost because of what you are actively doing to this country that I genuinely love. As flawed as my country is, I love being a citizen of it — because I believe that we can push it toward the better ideals on which it was founded (not all the ideals were good — we kept slavery alive and that terrible decision still haunts us). I hate you, Mitch because you epitomize conservative cynicism.
I hate you, Mitch, because you’re corrupt. I hate you because you’ve taken so much Russian oil money into your PAC — insisting it’s all legal; yes, it was legal, Mitch — but once the context changed to treason and election fraud, those donations became “extra-legal”, shall we say. The context forces us to question your loyalties, Mitch. We know you serve your Republican Money Lords (the Kochs). Do you also serve Moscow?
I think you do, Mitch. It makes me hate you even more.
I hate what you did to Merrick Garland. I hate the bullshit reason you gave — drivel to the effect of “the American people deserve to make this choice…” despite the fact that Barack Obama WAS popularly elected and by a significant majority. He was operating within the guidelines of his job — as mandated by the Constitution. I hate the fact that no one in our news media grilled your testicles to a crisp over that.
I hate that you held up every single Obama judicial nominee because you were on a mission to stack the judicial deck against the majority of Americans. I hate that you want to shitcan the ACA. On a personal note — having a history of bi-polarity and depression, your actions there directly affect me, my healthcare, my future.
I hate the sound of your voice, Mitch. I hate the fact that you get to stand there at the Senate lectern spewing the worst kind of lies.
I hate that you think you will get away with betraying this country. Molesting our Democracy… It brings back memories. Horrible ones.
I have come to understand the man who molested me when I was 14. I am not at peace with what he did to me on two separate occasions, but I see him in his context. I believe he was sexually molested as a kid and he was simply paying that molestation forward onto me as sexual molestation victims sometimes do. I believe I was being sexually assaulted, in essence, by the boys who regularly sexually assaulted my molester.
Context is everything. Your context defies explanation. Well, it defies reasonable explanation. Your context is pure, unadulterated, long-time corruption.
That’s why I hate the fact that you’re a hypocrite. I hate that you were probably discharged from the military over an act of SODOMY that YOU have been covering up. I hate that your wife’s as corrupt as you are and that she “…designated a special liaison to help with grant applications and other priorities from her husband Mitch McConnell’s state of Kentucky, paving the way for grants totaling at least $78 million for favored projects as McConnell prepared to campaign for reelection.”
I hate that you worked your ass off to lift sanctions against Oleg Deripaska — a “…powerful oligarch and close ally of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Deripaska had been a major client of Manafort but had sued him over a failed business deal in Ukraine and was seeking to recoup almost $25m.” I hate that you worked your ass off to lift sanctions against him. I hate that Deripaska then took that proprietary polling data, turned it over to the GRU who weaponized it and turned it on the voters in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. I hate that THAT direct influence on specific voters effectively suppressed enough Democratic voters that Trump “won” by a combined 77,000 votes across three states (Michigan, Wisconsin & Pennsylvania).
I hate that at the meeting Barack Obama called at the White House in September 2016, BEFORE the election, YOU stood up — after our IC and the FBI presented hard evidence to you that Russia was going all in to try and elect Trump — and insisted YOU would label any attempt to inform We The People that Russia was cyber-attacking our election as “politicizing the intelligence”. I hate you, Mitch, because YOU wanted We The People kept in the dark.
Why was that, Mitch? Don’t bother answering. I know it’ll be a lie and I’ll just end up hating you more for it.
I hate you, Mitch for what you’ve already done to this country and our whole system of government. I hate that you destroyed comity in the Senate probably forever… well, it will be destroyed so long as Republicans sit in the Senate. I hate that you are the Senate Majority Leader.
I hate that you are alive, Mitch. I hate that you breathe. I hate that you ever experience a moment of pleasure or joy. I hate that I feel that way about you. I hate that you have made HATE so present in my heart and mind, Mitch.
I hate you for bringing me down to YOUR level.
Now let me tell you why, in spite of all that, I “love you”, Mitch. I love the fact that — as much as I make cruel (okay — bullying) jokes about how turtle-like you are, at the end of the day, you’re “human”. You’ll die. I love that fact about you. What I love even more — if I can manage to outlive you, I will get the chance to piss on your grave.
That’s how much I hate you, Mitch — and it pains me. I hate you so much that I actively dream of defiling your resting place.
For the moment, unfortunately, that means you’re winning. You’re more present in my head than I am in yours.
I hate that.
But there’s solace. This morning former Republican congressman & MSNBC host Joe Scarborough coined (or caused to go viral) “MOSCOW MITCH” which, as I write this, is trending big time on Twitter.
The world is on to Mitch. Finally. My hope — Mitch finds himself back in the worst schoolyard he ever had to negotiate. And a life of stolen privilege is about to get taken out of his soft turtle hide.
I write movies & TV shows for a living (and a book, too, which I just finished!) It’s not the most reliable way to pay the rent but when I do make a buck, I make it by making stuff up, writing it down and selling it. I take great pride in the fact that my imagination can go just about anywhere.
But no writer could possibly have made up the Time we live in. That’s not a revelation of course; I’m hardly the first person or writer to say that. But I might be the first writer to say out loud how much I resent that fact. It’s damned hard to come up with stories these days half as compelling as what’s on the news. A 240 year old experiment in self-government teeters on the brink of destruction. And we’ve got a front row seat.
There’s a famous scene in a great movie called “The Third Man”. Joseph Cotton stars as a Holly Martin, writer who goes to Vienna just after WWII because he believes his friend Harry Lime has died. Vienna is a divided city with a free side and a side behind Russian control. Harry Lime may have committed a crime — which explains the mystery surrounding whether or not Harry is really dead. Turns out (Spoiler Alert!) he’s not dead — he IS a criminal and he did fake his death so that he could hide out in the Soviet sector.
Orson Welles plays Harry who finally comes out of hiding to confront Holly — and to seduce Holly into coming over to the dark side and going into the black market with him. Holly turns him down which sets up the climax later when Holly tries (working with the British authorities) to lure Harry into a trap. But, before Holly says no, Harry delivers a great monologue (written by the book & screenplay’s author, Graham Greene). Write
Chaos seems to produce greatness in addition to chaos. An argument can be made that war itself has inspired some of the greatest statements of human artistic genius. Picasso’s Guernica comes to mind…
War movies, war literature, war art, war music (Beethoven’s Eroica — written with Napoleon in mind, that dedication was later withdrawn however), war everything — it makes us look deep inside ourselves for a few thoughtful seconds before we go back to killing and wholesale slaughter.
Another argument can be made that American comedy hasn’t been this robust since Richard Nixon was president. My point — there are benefits to living in Remarkable Times. There are laughs to be had — bitter ones, perhaps but — laughs all the same. There’s that feeling of “chumminess” we all feel when we hear the latest stupider-than-stupid thing Donald Trump said on TV or via Twitter and we all think “What an asshole!” at the very same time.
I didn’t used to be a news junkie. I was a daily consumer of news product but my diet was a lot more balanced back then before Trump “won” in 2016. I used to be a regular Howard Stern listener. I was hard core. But Trump winning changed everything for me. I couldn’t listen to characters I loved anymore because they were worried about trivial shit (funny but trivial) while the world was ending around us all. I have been news 24/7 ever since.
This is not good for us but the answer isn’t sticking our heads in the sand. The 75th anniversary of D-Day brought Tom Brokaw out into the light again — and his book The Greatest Generation. I grew up in the war’s shadow; my parents were the Greatest Generation’s children. A baby boomer, I grew up in the 1960’s, part of a generation that was, in a way, the diametric opposite of the Greatest Generation. We weren’t fighting a war, we were protesting it (well, to be fair, by the time I got to college, the Vietnam war was 5 years over and done with. We were still deep into our wound-licking phase.
Baby boomers, Gen-X-ers, Millennials — we’ve all lived through interesting times but not very interesting times. Yeah, yeah, the Soviet Union died — but it didn’t die spectacularly like Nazi Germany did. Until Donald Trump ran for president — and “won” (he didn’t — fact o’ life — he lost both the popular and he absolutely lost the EC too.) That’s what Robert Mueller’s report teases us with.
The Donald Trump story — and the corrupt Republicans story — and the we’re under cyber attack right now story — these are all remarkable stories all by themselves. Lucky us for getting gang-tackled by them all. This will get far, far worse before it starts to get better. When we get to the part where ALL the shit starts flying from ALL the nooks & crannies, this will get exponentially more ugly. Never mind the awful, treasonous things the republicans have all done, when the American public get a firm grip on what this story is — how deep, dark & horrible it is — and how the republicans continue to play them for suckers and rubes — this will turn thermo-nuclear.
Bill Barr and Donald Trump have succeeded in muddying a narrative they desperately needed to muddy. The Truth will not set them free. It will however send them to prison for the rest of their lives. It may even expose them to execution — still one of the punishments for treason. And, yes — this IS treason because ARE at war. We’re at Cyber War.
Oh — but it’s “undeclared”, you say? Well, it’s just as “undeclared” as the state of war that existed in Japan’s mind when it attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Just because the Americans being bombed by the Japanese didn’t know they were at war didn’t mean the bombs didn’t kill them just as dead. You don’t have to know you’re at war to BE at war.
I used to feel a lot more certain that I knew how this would turn out. I’m a lot less certain now. The pleasures of living in remarkable times have worn thin. I suspect we all long for this to end and for something we used to call “normalcy” to replace it (and reign for a thousand years if it wants to).
There’s a Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times (in other words, may you be inundated with chaos). We’re learning — the Chinese knew what they were talking about.
Two weeks ago, I handed my manager the revised version of a big TV pilot script & “bible”; in TV-Speak, a ‘bible” is the document that lays out all the vital details about a TV show that might not be included in its pilot script. A show’s bible contains all the characters, all their story arcs, all the show’s themes big and small starting at episode two and going through all of the next ten seasons you aspire to make and become rich off of). I’m not telling this story to bitch n moan — not at all.
Everything takes time. I am but one of many clients my manager has. He apologized profusely this morning for having not gotten to it yet.
While I would prefer if he had read it already, also I acknowledge that getting anyone to read anything these days is a massive chore — mostly because everyone I know is so overwhelmed by what’s already on their plates. I happily threw the waiting time into other projects — using the “I don’t know where I stand” dynamic to compel myself to get other work done — because I might have to.
Pro Life Hack: Always have Plans “B”, “C” & “D” within easy reach.
But I was beginning to get a little worried. I was beginning to assume that there was a “message” lurking in my manager’s silence. There wasn’t, of course. There was just “The Silence”.
Oh, the S I L E N C E . . .
Silence terrifies most humans. Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman made a whole career out of movies about “cosmic silence”. Being stuck in a moment of silence is almost as unsettling a prospect to the average person as farting in public — and getting caught.
Put a man and a woman in a car together (let’s let the man drive cos he’ll probably insist). They drive along on a beautiful day. In silence.
The woman doesn’t just “hear” the silence between them, she feels it. Feels it in her bones and in their very relationship. Her partner’s silence is loaded with dark intent and worry. The guy meanwhile? He hasn’t even thought about it. All he’s thinking is how nice the car feels this morning… must have been the more expensive oil he opted for last oil change… He hasn’t a clue his relationship is about to come at him like a shark with a vendetta.