Posts by Zzyzx

I am a normative human being with standard coloration option #5 and chromosome-assigned sexual features.

II. It’s Later Than You Think

Part one here.

Are you registered to vote? Will you proudly sport your “I voted” sticker on November 6th? Are you thrilled that you’re about to take your country back? Even though attempts at voter suppression are becoming more brazen by the day? Even though the party of Trump will still hold the presidency, Senate and Supreme Court? Even if Carl Bernstein, half the team who blew open Watergate for the Washington Post, reports

Trump has talked about a disruption campaign if the results are close but have the Democrats taking control of the House or Senate.

“I talked to people … in touch with the White House on Friday who believe that, if the congressional midterms are very close and the Democrats were to win by five or seven seats, that Trump is already talking about how to throw legal challenges into the courts, sow confusion, declare a victory actually, and say that the election’s been illegitimate,” Bernstein said after being asked if Trump’s challenge to fraudulent voters was a form of voter suppression.

The past four months in particular have opened many people’s eyes to what the Trump administration is capable of accomplishing. Alarmed by this realization, they’re compelled to “do something” in response, but they’re accustomed to the ways American society used to work. They’re under the impression the crisis in which we find ourselves can be remedied by voting. They know the confirmation of an accused rapist to the Supreme Court is a travesty, they may know family segregation — scratch that, cultural genocide — never really stopped, they may have some sense of the myriad horrors unfolding… but for all that, they still have faith in the system. Holding onto this faith doesn’t make them stupid, just misguided.

But they need to understand that this election can be lost. Legitimately or illegitimately, our voices can be rendered mute.

* * *

Your midterms Blue Wave is poised to wash over the Hill. The script gives directions as follows: the party who lost the presidential election now makes massive gains in Congress. Yet feeling safe in this assumption only work if you also believe that Trump’s election, the one there was no way he could possibly win, was an an outlier, and that the mechanics of our system are still behaving in essentially ordinary ways. Does that sound like the county you’re living in? Is Trump stymied by concerns about propriety or the rule of law? Show me the part where any of this is normal.

The decline of our democratic society may fill you with righteous anger, but our openly nationalist president’s approval rating is 47 percent in a new NBC/WSJ poll – an all-time high. Deploying thousands of American troops to “defend” the US/Mexico border is scoring big with a certain type of voter. Other data is more promising. 35% of potential voters report Brett Kavanaugh’s SCOTUS confirmation made them more likely to vote for a Democrat in their district. Will the potential be realized? The truth will out in a week.

* * *

These are unconscionable times. We’re at the moment when the canary, deprived of oxygen, drifts into a dreamless slumber as the rest of us labor on. Right wing terrorism has risen sharply over the last year; and while it’s often attributed so-called lone wolves, the Proud Boys look a little more like the GOP’s blackshirts with each passing month. 13,000 migrant children are being held in detention camps like this one in West Texas. Puerto Rico has been abandoned. Mass shootings have to be truly spectacular for anyone to talk about them the next day. No wonder the Trump administration is betting it can deny trans people their humanity. Our cultural sense of humanity has been suffocated. Taken a whole, this raises questions like “who’s next?”, “how far will this all go?” and “does anyone else feel like they’re about to pass out?”

* * *

What exists in the present day that didn’t when fascism was last at its peak: sophisticated facial recognition and thermal imaging technologies. The NSA’s PRISM program. A fully militarized police force. A prison-industrial complex with an insatiable hunger for more victims. The hobgoblins of misinformation: 24 hour news channels, talk radio and social media.

The tools of control are as great as they’ve ever been, and they’re in the hands of people who have no compunction about using them.

* * *

We’ve been a lot quieter these days. Sometimes you have to be, to suss out what reality lays outside breathless Beltway “live from the scene of the car crash” reporting. Or you have to step away from the hyperbole you’ve been screaming into the void, because writing about political issues can easily lead to circular, self-reinforcing nonsense. Neither is the case here.

No, we’ve been choked by the ever-growing suspicion that the clock has run out, that fascism won’t be relinquishing its stranglehold on the body politic anytime soon. We can look back at our warnings since Inauguration Day, and see those concerns reflected back at us now from mainstream outlets. These are the same people who used to deride concerns about Trumpism as paranoid. Perhaps they weren’t paranoid enough.

It can happen here. It is happening here.

Donald Trump has suggested that Jewish people might be committing anti-Semitic hate crimes to make himself look bad.

After days in which he refused to comment on a spate of anti-Semitic attacks, Mr Trump broke his silence to repeat an neo-Nazi conspiracy theory that has claimed that the attacks are “false flags”. Supporters of that belief – who include leader of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke – believe that such attacks are being perpetrated by Jewish people in order to undermine the White House.

It’s later than you think.

President Trump is vowing to sign an executive order that would seek to end the right to U.S. citizenship for children born in the United States to noncitizens, a move most legal experts say runs afoul of the Constitution.

The action, which Trump previewed in a television clip broadcast Tuesday, would be the most aggressive by a president elected to office pledging to take a hard line on immigration, an issue he has revived in advance of next week’s midterm elections.

“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits,” Trump said during an interview with Axios scheduled to air as part of a new HBO series starting this weekend. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”

Soon it will be too late.

How Does One Celebrate The Fourth During These Trying Times?

It’s a dismal time to be an American. Following revelations all but the most casual observers are painfully aware of, our national morale has plummeted to a historic low. A new Gallup poll shows only 47% of us are “extremely proud” to be an American. Giving people the option of saying they’re “extremely proud” is patently ridiculous – Gallup might as well have asked Americans if they “super into” pizza or think having sex is “the best”, but a record low is a record low.

This presents something of a conundrum regarding the appropriate way to celebrate the Fourth of July. Unlike Loyalty Day, we can’t tell you what to do and say or how to feel (loyal). It’s a personal choice, like abortion or which crazy, made-up deity you’re super into. But we have three sensible suggestions to make your Fourth just, like, the best.

  1. Burn an American flag instead of waving it.
  2. Get some summer reading in! I recommend Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA by Tim Weiner. If you’d prefer something briefer, try The Declaration of Independence, a historical document that continues to bewilder some of the less civically literate among us.
  3. Drink until you can’t feel anything, thus avoiding the shame of being an American in 2018.

Have an acceptable day away from the crushing weight of wage slavery!




The Keyboard Is Not Mightier Than The Gun

My immediate, unvarnished reaction to news that a mass shooter has killed five journalists in the newsroom of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland is that an authoritarian reactionary is responsible.

I want to be clear that I don’t know if this is true. It’s a gut feeling, and gut feelings are notoriously unreliable. What’s remarkable to me is it’s so easy to jump to this (perhaps erroneous) conclusion. We’re living under the rule of a would-be autocrat who has branded the media the ‘enemy of the American people’. On a nearly daily basis, he slanders media outlets that take a critical stance, sometimes assassinating the character of individual journalists who really get under his skin. And the fashies who cheer their dear leader’s maneuvers to obliterate a society that allows dissent go even further. Only two days ago, Milo Yiannopoulos encouraged vigilante squads to gun journalists down.

I could be wrong, and I hope I am. No matter the cause, it’s a needless waste of human lives. My thoughts are with the staff of the Capital Gazette, their friends and their families.

Travel Ban Gets SCOTUS Seal Of Approval, Fatherly Advice, And More

And the hits keep on coming. The Supreme Court has legally sanctioned the Trump administration’s modified travel ban (this would be the third version, written specifically so it had a strong likelihood of passing the conservative-dominated court). Tweaked verbiage aside, we know how the ban will work in practice. It’s there in the text and subtext of the original executive order, and in the intervening year and a half, our aspiring emperor has shown no respect for legal strictures that hinder him.

In other SCOTUS news: The Roberts Gang has reversed a decision requiring crisis pregnancy centers to disclose that they’re anti-abortion. Crisis pregnancy centers are notorious for pressuring women not to terminate unwanted pregnancies.

Tor Ekeland passes along advice from his father for seriously resisting fascism.

If you haven’t been outside the United States of late, you may not be aware we’re now referred to as a ‘rogue state’ with some regularity.

Remember when Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong Un ended with the president saying they’d made great progress and our military would stop doing war games in the Korean Peninsula? And remember how defense stocks fell and Democrats practically demanded we have a nuclear war with the Kim regime for some reason? And remember how Trump admired said regime’s YA dystopian novel levels of control over its populace? Actually, just remember all of it? It was a profoundly weird time, followed by absolutely nothing.

When investigators threatened his power, he declared himself dictator.

Nazi pederast Milo Yiannopoulos is encouraging vigilantes to assassinate journalists. In related news, 50% of Americans believe we’re in danger of becoming a nondemocratic, authoritarian country; most Americans’ wages have declined over the past year; machines can fire us now; gay Americans are arming themselves to stay alive; and suicide rates are climbing dramatically. Of course if journalists are hiding in fear for their lives, they won’t have time to report on all the bad news!

And now for something completely different:

The Process Of Undoing Due Process

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Article V of the United States Constitution

Do you believe in justice?

Rich liberals, rural Kentucky republicans, radical social justice warriors who believe that the constitution is unfit to provide true equity to the historically oppressed, libertarians, communists, constitutional originalists – all of us, together: Do you believe in justice?

Even if reality often falls short of the ideal, even if the government often operates like a boot to the throat, even if the carceral state is bloated and sanguinary, even if years of hard life experience scream “No, it’s not true, justice doesn’t exist in this country!” – do you think we still have to try to reach for it? That it’s a worthwhile and vital point on the compass, a True North, and if we’re lost in the woods either the compass is broken or we’re reading it wrong?

Even if you’re an existentialist, having come to the conclusion that all of human culture is a series of accidents resulting in what we have now, a ramshackle hut built on the detritus of what came before us: can you concede that justice is one of the better accidents to befall us?

The justice that has whipped me into a rhetorical frenzy isn’t the well-oiled operation of an unrelenting punishment machine, quarantining those found guilty in the Brutalist architecture of displine. This is the justice of Due Process: the right to fair treatment within the legal system that follows established rules, esteeming the right to a speedy trial, the presumption of innocence, and the state’s burden of proof.

On Sunday, the 45th president suggested that Due Process should be circumvented when dealing with so-called “illegal immigrants”. In his vision, there are no courts or judges, just a void that will be filled by nativist vigilanties. Never mind the fifth and fourteenth amendments of the constitution, or that Supreme Court case law has established that even those who enter the country without legal sanction have the right to Due Process. The undocumented are still considered legal persons, and to deprive them of that right depersonalizes them. If one is not a person, but part of an infestation, there is no need to afford them the consideration of their humanity. And what is it we do to vermin?

Justice must be for all if it’s to be for anyone. The system is far from impartial, but to do away with striving towards impartiality, or at least pretending to, jackhammers into the bedrock our imperfect society was built on. Or perhaps it only collapses some of the top-level detritus. However you prefer to think of it, one fact is not up for interpretation: if we allow the constitution to be ignored to persecute one group of people, an inhumane precedent will have been set. What’s to protect anyone else?