An Unhappy Anniversary

How did the night of November 8, 2016 end for you?

Were there tears? Were you panicked? Did you succumb to numb shock? Did you feel something akin to the momentary weightlessness when the trap door opens but before the noose snaps your neck?

I experienced the latter. Sitting in complete silence, not counting the victory speech spewing forth from televisions, I felt spacesick.

Trump’s reign has warped our sense of normalcy, so it’s helpful to recall where Democratic voters and many more non-voters were. The day started with mild optimism. Not for Hillary Clinton, per se, though there was a nation of pantsuit wearers for whom she was an avatar of blasting through the glass ceiling. It was the optimism that a ostensibly democratic system wouldn’t allow a serial abuser and racial demagogue into high office, that the slog — for even then Trump was exhausting — would soon be at an end.

The media narrative was reassuring in this respect. Polls by statistics wunderkind Nate Silver were touted with a kind of religious fervor. I wished I could share their relief; instead, a deep unease disquieted me. I knew, and had been saying for over a year, that Donald Trump was not a joke. He was a threat to democratic norms. He had less in common with the Republican Party than he did with Benito Mussolini. Electing him would spread the poison of fascism deep into the body politic. He was giving fresh voice to America’s ugly racism.

By the end of the night I knew how Cassandra felt.

It’s fitting that the electoral college, a product of the American system of slavery, was the mechanism that solidified our country’s reaction against its first black president. In many ways Donald Trump positions himself as the anti-Obama, the embodied spasm of white rage against the empowered Other. His election was no different. When it became clear Barack Obama had won in 2008, people spontaneously and joyously flowed into the streets. Even many of those who didn’t vote for him felt a cautious optimism about the possibilities of the American experiment. Suddenly the failures of neoliberalism seemed fleeting, a ghost ship passing in the night before the first light of the sun exorcised its terrors.

Eight years of calcified intransigence and growing racial resentment later, we’re under no such illusion. November 8th was the final unspooling of all that hope. In 2016 we were united only in grievance. A year to the day since Donald Trump was improbably elected, his presidency is a singularly corrosive force. America was never great, but what’s happening now threatens to unmake what small progress we were able to scrape together.

(Year Zero/Day Two Hundred and Ninety-Three)

Why Trump Gotta Be Hatin’ on Trans Folks?

Much to the shock and horror of the trans community, the current administration made the shitty-as-fuck announcement that trans men and women are now banned from military service.  President Strange-Cross-Between-A-Troll-from-the-Animated-Hobbit-Film-and-a-Disguise-a-Wayans-Brother-Might-Wear-in-a-Movie literally tweeted that the U.S. Government “…will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”

What year is this?  What in the tragic foreshadowing fucking year is this?

His major reason for the decision was the cost of medically supporting these individuals.  In his ambush of tweets this morning he said that the military needed to focus more on winning that be “burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

The Lord of Oranges is modeling both a full re-enactment of the prologue of “The Handmaid’s Tale” and a sentence containing his favorite word.  I’d wager that there was never a time in the history of the United States when its people weren’t more self-conscious of the word “tremendous.”

Joshua Block, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT & HIV Project said, “The thousands of transgender service members serving on the front lines for this country deserve better than a commander in chief who rejects their basic humanity.”

It also bears pointing out that “total military spending on erectile dysfunction medicines amounts to $84 million annually” while “typical health care costs for gender transition-related medical treatment… would cost the military between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually.”

While it’s clear that the current administration is busy with dealing with the many consequences of their actions (one of them possibly being a big consequence that rhymes with “Scriminal Dinvestigation”), they may not be prepared for the backlash of opposition on this issue.  LGBT groups have been uniting in protest since January, and as long as groups have the constitutional right to an assembly, there will be some heavy assemblage on this issue as well.  It’s a date, Hobbit Troll.

Trump Meets Putin: What You Need To Know

Wrastler-in-Chief Donald Trump will be meeting with Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin face-to-face for the first time tomorrow following the G-20 summit.

Here’s you need to know.

Actually… hold on. What does anyone need to know? Can anyone truly know anything removed from their sensorial experience? These are, at thier core, epistemological questions. Some may maintain they possess a special, even gnostic, knowledge, but such assertions are sufficiently unprovable as to be worthless.

How do any of us know what we need to know? Even the best-prepared among us may find, to their infinite horror, an oversight has waylaid their best-laid plans.

A further wrinkle to this claim of “needing to know” comes to mind. Will your knowledge of the intricacies of the personalities involved, the complex geopolitical machinations or circumstances leading to the meeting in any way affect the outcome? Save for Putin, Trump and their advisers, the answer seems to be a firm “No”.

But don’t take my word for it. What do I know?

(Year Zero/Day One Hundred and Sixty-Eight)

An Open Letter To The Stressmonger in Chief

Donald. Donnie. Don. Do.

We’ve heard some troubling news that you’ve been stress eating and feelin’ real lonesome.

On one level, we can empathize. It can be difficult to truly connect to other human beings. We are all islands of mind. And loneliness, compounded by stress, can lead to some poor deitary choices.

On the other hand: Oh, YOU’RE stress eating? We’re all stress eating thanks to you, champ. You’re the one creating the stressful environment in the first place. “Send me to Washington,” you said, “even though I literally have no idea how to govern.” “Those people who are not white and elderly and culturally regressive must be made to suffer.” Et cetera.

Regarding your loneliness, I say tough shit. You know who else is lonely? The families that have been torn apart by your ruthless expansion of ICE apprehensions. Survivors of bombings by American war planes. The loved ones of those who have been killed in the hate crimes that have spiked across the country because you created an atmosphere that emboldened them – people who knew Timothy CaughmanRichard Collins IIIRicky John Best or Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche. The survivors of white supremacist terrorists. Everyone who’s afraid and isolated because of you.

If you weren’t pushing for the re-implementation of your vile travel ban, if you weren’t intent on maximizing the punishment the carceral state can offer, if you weren’t constantly making people afraid for their safety and their lives, if you weren’t a bitter, demagogic, volatile, deeply unpleasant sack of shit? Loneliness would be less of an issue.

There’s nothing wrong with gaining weight. There’s nothing wrong with feeling alone. There is something very wrong with you.

(Year Zero/Day One Hundred and Thirty-Five)

There’s Something Deeply Wrong Here

I wish I’d had more time to enjoy Spicer in the bushes. In the hectic days since president Trump dispatched his praetorian bodyguard to FBI headquarters to do away with a man who wouldn’t pledge his undying loyalty, the absurdity of  Sean Spicer’s flailing about brought some levity to the situation.

The problem is the emergent public record around the firing of James Comey doesn’t need our mirth. It needs to raise our hackles. Alarms should be ringing in our heads. Lights should be flashing and instructing us to exit the building without trampling each other. As Jonathan Chiat put it yesterday: “Trump is trying to control the FBI. It’s time to freak out.”

Trump, in fact, is trying to bend every useful organ of the federal government to his will. Some, like the Keebler Klansman Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department, are not only happy kowtowers but directly involved in the move to muzzle another agency’s investigation. Dwelling too long on the imperfect parallels with Richard Nixon in the hope that Comey is what leads to impeachment misses the heart of the matter. The president has had some success in making departments either subservient to his will or has understaffed/underfunded parts of the government that could stand in the way of whatever it is he wants at any given moment.

To put it another way: we can dismiss what’s going on as another Trumpian shitshow and continue to talk about how many scoops of ice cream the president gets, or we can acknowledge the erosion of democratic norms is accelerating. It’s not much fun to admit something deeply wrong is underway, but there isn’t much that can be done for that.

Then there’s the question of 45’s mounting paranoia. When Donald Trump accused Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower over Twitter, it was shocking and bizarre. Now that the American public has had a chance to contend with this repeated and unfounded claim, it’s just bizarre. He is obsessed with the idea that someone’s listening in. Given all we’ve learned about the man and his associates since November, there’s a good chance this is an existential concern. They’re coming for me. They know what I’ve done. Rumor has it he also makes recordings of his own. His paranoia could also be projection. If I do it, so does everyone else.

Whether one or both are true, this morning saw Trump lashing out like a cornered animal.

President Trump on Friday warned James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director he fired this week, against leaking anything negative about the president …

In a series of early-morning Twitter posts, Mr. Trump even seemed to suggest that there may be secret tapes of his conversations with Mr. Comey that could be used to counter the former F.B.I. director if necessary. It was not immediately clear whether he meant that literally or simply hoped to intimidate Mr. Comey into silence.

“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.

Mr. Trump appeared agitated over news reports on Friday that focused on contradictory accounts of his decision to fire Mr. Comey at the same time the F.B.I. is investigating ties between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.

Trump also threatened to halt daily press briefings if… he doesn’t get more favorable coverage? Russia is never mentioned again? It doesn’t seem like much on its face other than hunkering down, but given all that’s happening more extreme measures could taken to try to maintain his grip on power.

One thing is certain in this strange and labyrinthine tale: If Donald Trump is going to threaten Comey on Twitter and intimate he has recordings of the conversation, sooner or later people are going to want to take a listen to his audio library.

(Year Zero/Day One Hundred and Thirteen)