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)

In Which The President Undermines His Own Country’s Legal System

It’s one thing for a sitting president to acknowledge that American legal system is flawed, as Barack Obama did during his tenure in the White House. With that acknowledgement, there’s an expectation that the president and Congress make attempts to improve policing, the court system and prisons. Barack Obama’s actions to that end may have been a dint in the carceral state, but it was well within how most people would expect the man in charge to behave.

And then there’s this.

[Trump] added: “We need quick justice and we need strong justice — much quicker and much stronger than we have right now. Because what we have right now is a joke and it’s a laughingstock. And no wonder so much of this stuff takes place.”

Where was Jeff Sessions, Top Cop in all the land?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the head of the so-called ‘laughing stock’ justice system, was in the room for this comment — sitting across from Trump.

Reports are unclear as to whether steam shot comically out of the Keebler Klansman’s ears.

(Year Zero/Day Two Hundred and Eighty-Six)

EXCLUSIVE: Leaked Private Message From The President To Special Councel Mueller

Surreptitiously leaked to Rise Of The Lizard People this morning by our own version of Deep Throat, the following is a private message sent to Special Counsel Robert Mueller by the Office of the President of the United States following the indictments of Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos. We’ve confirmed its veracity through the usual method of haruspicy, and can now confidently enter its unabridged contents into the public record.

To Special Investigator Robert Mueller
From The Office of the President
October 30, 2017

Re: Wiping the floor with you

Ty Cobb begged me to stop sending you these little letters once their existence became public, but you know what? Fuck him. And more importantly, fuck you, Bob.

I’m going to stick my boot so far up your ass you’ll need a colostomy bag for the rest of your life. You think the law is on your side? The president is above the law.

No one cares about your investigation. It’s tired. It’s played out. My fans have about as much interest in it as they have in my tax returns. The only “conspiracy against the United States” is the one you’re in with Crooked Hillary.

Here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to wind down your investigation. You’ve got nothing on me. Nothing worth taking a long swim in the Atlantic with specially fitted shoes. Or maybe you’d like a tour of rural Kentucky? I know some very fine people who told me about a very isolated place they use for target practice.

You’ll leave the two things I care about most in this world alone: my money and me. Oh, and my family. Make that three things.

But I’m just joking. I’m a funny guy. Ha ha! See? I’m laughing. Because I’m not afraid to fire you. It’s what I’m know for. How would you like to be charged with a little conspiracy of your own? Are you really willing to risk your reputation over this?

Look, I’m not a bad guy. Maybe I’ll go easy on you if you quit now and join a certain exclusive Florida resort. Your choice, Bob. Think on it.

P.S. Good luck finding the orb, asshole.

Dictated but not read,

Donald J. Trump
45th President of the United States and owner of Mar a Lago Resort

(Year Zero/Day Two Hundred and Eighty-Four)

Look On The Bright Side

It’s tempting to see doom and gloom in the events unfolding around us, but perhaps we’re looking at things the wrong way.

I recently interviewed a rich, straight white male Trump voter for a different perspective on the state of the union. Unfortunately, he was adamant the conversation be “off the record” for fear of “class warfare” and “being guillotined by an impromptu mob of angry peasants” who would then “use [his] intestines to make belts”. He did however assent to allowing me summarize the general thrust of his convictions.

Things are going better than you think

Don’t get fooled by the three-ring circus FAKE NEWS spoon-feeds you. Things are actually going really well. ICE is rounding up people I’ve never met but nonetheless don’t like in record numbers, the police are protecting my property, the stock market is doing me a solid, and the swamp is being drained of scum. From where I’m standing, everything is going extremely well.

Puerto Rico is recovering

One month after the disaster, only a third of Puerto Ricans lack potable drinking water. How great is that? They’re well on their way to recovery… so long as they don’t do anything unpatriotic that forces the president to withdraw FEMA support early.

A new world war would actually lessen income inequality

A lot of people live in fear of a military conflict with North Korea, a move that could trigger another world war. And yet a lot of these same people claim to care about income inequality. Typical liberal hypocrisy. In “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, economist Thomas Piketty noted that income inequality was reduced following both the first and second world wars, probably because there were less competition in the job market. These little Lenins should be begging The Donald to give the Rocket Man fire and fury!

Tax cuts!

Do I really have to explain this one? The tax cuts I’ve been personally promised will help my bottom line. I’ll remove that extra money from circulation by placing it in shell companies in foreign countries or locking it up in banks with extremely favorable interest rates. Eventually some it might return into circulation when I purchase certain luxury items or in the form of tips to restaurant workers and escorts. It’s simple trickle-down economics!

The traitors are being rooted out

Grieving families of fallen soldiers? Traitors. Republican politicians who aren’t completely loyal to the greatest president who ever lived? Traitors. Anyone who still has “the feels” because KILLary lost? Most definitely traitors. Trump’s playing incredible 12-dimensional chess so he can figure out who to line up against the wall and shoot when the time comes.

Wow. Rise of the Lizard People is willing to admit we have a strong bias against optimism in these trying times. We know we’re lucky to live in America, where freedom is handed out like cotton candy on Free Cotton Candy Day. But every day is Free Cotton Candy Day in this great nation of ours! Consider our eyes open and our hearts ready to accept the warm orange radiance of the Supreme Dealmaker.

(Year Zero/Day Two Hundred and Seventy-Four)

Charlottesville

Like a petulant bully forced to apologize by his parents, Donald Trump belatedly, with feet dragging, singled out white supremacists for the appalling acts of racist terrorism and murder in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. Trump’s initial tightrope walk of false equivalence was calculated to please neither establishment Republicans nor Democrats, but his true base:

And pleased they were. Trump’s later appeasement of critics within his own party and the press was PR, an action meant to stymie further rebukes after the intended damage had been done.

If you’ve ever been the recipient of a non-apology apology, you know not to accept what he said as sincere. Trump has without fail dithered when presented the initial opportunity to distance himself from white supremacy in his political career, from “I don’t know who David Duke is” to present day. It’s only when the outcry becomes deafening that that the president pretends to distance himself from nazis (and if you’re considering citing Godwin’s law, Mike Godwin calls them nazis too).

For some, Charlottesville gave what communities of color and the greater antifascist movement have been saying all along palpability. Perhaps it took the murder of a white woman to shock the “decent” elements of white America – there’s a long and tiresome history of an assault on white femininity being the bridge too far. Or perhaps seeing Trump’s clear discomfort with calling out nazis made the label of “fascist” fit more snugly on his person.

For others, it drew the focus away from the palace intrigue, the daily embarrassments, the ongoing Mueller investigation and yes, the absurdist comedy to what is happening in our country. White supremacists were emboldened by the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump’s election and every public signal in our culture that implicitly if not explicitly endorses their worldview. If the last few years have shown us anything, it’s that they’re getting bolder. As Jamelle Bouie noted, this is a white power movement showing its strength.

It seems reasonable to counter that the death toll from racially-motivated murders is relatively small. As Jeff Sessions might say if he was sure he wasn’t being recorded, so what? The number of gun-related homicides in Chicago in a month effortlessly eclipses the Hitler Squad’s body count in a year. While true, the numbers aren’t the point. Racial terrorism is. The racially-motivated murders committed by white supremacists are political murders. Their intent is instill fear in non-white and visibly Other Americans, to send the message that they’re not safe, that there’s no equal place for them in society. It’s a chilling message that if they or their white, straight or cis allies stand up for them, they will be dealt with like traitors.

Charlottesville wasn’t the end. It’s the latest signpost on a road that leads to a very dark place.

(Year Zero/Day Two Hundred and Seven)