I: If It’s Broke, Don’t Fix It

It’s nearly impossible to hold onto perspective.

Donald Trump — the painfully sub-sub-par, hate-filled, resentful cretin who has the uncanny ability to make one month feel like a thousand days — has coated perspective in a obscenely thick layer of Crisco. The harder we try to grasp it, the more likely it is to jet out of our hands.

Our institutions have failed us, and we in turn have failed ourselves.

One supposes that the full trappings of power can make a thing sound reasonable, that if something unpalatable is rolled out in stages, the citizenry takes that time to accept the revised status quo. And if one supposes that, they suppose right.

Let’s not lionize ourselves here – we’ve allowed it to happen. We’ve accepted revisions the status quo, told ourselves that’s how things are now.

The prevailing narrative about resistance has been so much wind. Non-violent protest, bereft of the menace of force, is reliant on symbolism to do its heavy lifting. Here we are, it says. Here is a mass of our bodies, united in purpose. We who deviate are not alone. But what happens when the immediacy of the shock fades, when the threatened uprising fails to substantially materialize?

By degrees, we adjust to the new reality. We don’t like it, but we object to it the same way we object to payroll taxes and traffic. The window of possibility contracts, and we turn our focus from the heart of the problem to its outer edges. We strategize on how to make an unpleasant situation more bearable.

The resistance has become the acceptance.

Year One/Day One

If Timothy Snyder’s contention that we had a year to stem the tide of authoritarianism is true, that opportunity has lapsed. What’s important to remember, though, is that however well-informed a history professor who specializes in tyrants and totalitarianism is, like all of us he can only guess at what the future holds. His guess just happens to be educated.

Ineluctably, we have entered Year One of a disorienting epoch. Our faith in institutions has eroded, as they have been made to erode. Once-hidden prejudices are voiced with impugnity. From bad to worse to what the fuck, we can’t predict the future, but we too can hazard a guess at where things are headed.

It’s going to be another long year.

Strange Untruths

We thought we’d been numbed to the outlandishness of Donald Trump’s fabrications. They came at such a frequency over the past 16 or so months that most of the utterances the mentally unraveling president has made were consigned to the junk inbox of our minds. Sometimes, though, there are truth-deficient boasts so divorced from the world the rest of us live in we can’t help but take a perverse pleasure in their extravagance.

“Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation. Good news — it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

[T]he U.S. hasn’t experienced a fatal crash by a passenger jet since February 2009, making it impossible for Trump’s policies to have caused the number of deaths to drop any lower.

Barring his removal from office, we have to wonder where this ends. Will he claim he singlehandedly wrote the Declaration of Independence? That he discovered fire and invented the wheel? That crime has fallen consistently since the first season of The Apprentice?

Will his strange untruths (or delusions) lead him to claim “I didn’t even take credit for leading Seal Team Six in the daring raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, even though I could have. That’s just the kind of humble guy I am. It’s why I wrote the hit single ‘Humble’ and let Kendrick Lamar rap it.”?

We’ll know soon enough.

(Year Zero/Day Three Hundred and Fourty-Seven)

In Like Flynn

Are we supposed to greet news of Gen. Michael Flynn’s flip with rapture? And a flip it is,

as WTFJHP succinctly summarized:

Flynn promised “full cooperation” with Mueller’s investigation and is prepared to testify that Trump directed him to make contact with the Russians.

Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has a sterling reputation, and he’s no stranger to organized crime cases (See how he flipped Sammy “The Bull” Gravano over at Hive). There are those who met the latest twist in the Russiagate saga with relief. Soon it will all be over. I think not.

It’s not not Mueller’s skills I question, it’s the assumption that Trump can be taken down through cut and dry legal means. This would only work in a fantasy United States where democratic norms are still adhered to.

Since he inflicted L’affaire Comey on himself, the president has entertained firing Mueller, pressured members of his own party to cut Congressional investigations into his campaign’s collusion with Russia, and floated the potential pardon of guilty parties, perhaps even himself. His political understanding goes as far as yearning for pure authoritarianism. He has the power to stoke the lizard brains of his (fascism-craving, white rage-filled) followers into a frenzy. Does that sound like the kind of politician who plans to go quietly?

(Year Zero/Day Three Hundred and Sixteen)