People look to me and say, "Is the end near? Is this the final day? What's the future of mankind?"
How would I know? I got left behind.
Everyone goes through changes, looking to find the truth.
Don't look to me for answers. Don't ask me -- I don't know. -- Ozzy Osbourne, I Don't Know
As we start to wind down this wondrous Year Of Winning, waiting with bated breath to see if the national fever has a temporary break, it's a good time for all of us to take stock in what is, rather than what should be, and what we want for ourselves and our loved ones in the months and years to come, regardless of next week's (next month's perhaps) outcome.
Start with what you know, what you can control. We can't control -- or even affect -- the ongoing dumbassification of America, as Chuck D memorably put it long ago. All we control is what we do. Do we still support a shitty corporate media, while complaining about it? Then we're each doing our small part to perpetuate the problem, right?
Look, I enjoy the writing of Paul Krugman and Jamelle Bouie and such like, and they've done some remarkable in-depth pieces lately. But if my New York Times subscription dollar also goes for the upkeep and maintenance of useless hacks like Maggie Haberman and Elaina Plott, and hopeless, sloppy thinkers such as MoDo and Bobo and Bretbug, then it might be time to spend my news dollar more wisely. You'd be surprised what conclusions the Punch Sulzbergers of the world will reach when the invisible hand of the free market gets jammed up their asses for a surprise exam.
And if they reach the wrong conclusions and keep the hacks and cut the good ones loose, then you drew the right conclusion about the Times in the first place. The good ones will find a way, just as they did when Deadspin got ripped apart, root and branch, and David Roth and Drew Magary and the rest of them went and founded Defector. Now that, I can tell you first-hand, is money well spent.
I mean, you saw the Plott thing, right? The usual hackjob Cletus safari, this time about white college-educated Trump voters in Georgia. Turns out one of these plain folks on the street was the president of a Young Republicans chapter (cell, pod, whatever -- the guy's in his fuckin' 30s, which tells you he's really there to wow some coed chooch with how he rolls with Dear Leader's inner circle or some shit), and another was a paid Republicon consultant.
The 'splainin' and backpedaling was as hilarious as you might assume, but here's the thing -- this is something that a professional journamalist would have been fired for in the past, and the Times has done this shit multiple times before on previous Cletus safaris. They frequently talk with county GOP chairs in Indiana and Kansas without identifying them as such. These articles aren't just tedious and unseemly, the lack of sourcing on them frequently puts them in the "journalistic malpractice" category.
I should be clearer -- what Plott did was not any sort of error or mistake or oversight, though it's being retroactively characterized that way. She wrote for the Atlantic before going to the Times. She knows what she's doing, and if she doesn't then maybe she needs a couple years stringing for some podunk rag so she figures out one of the cardinal tenets of decent journalism. This should be unacceptable, yet it has become routine. Plott is a self-professed Ann Coulter fan-girl. She knows exactly what she did, and why she did it.
But the fix is in, and it's mostly because these trust-fund babies need their fucking horse-race, the hell with the consequences for actual human beings.
Broadly speaking, there are four possible outcomes for next week:
- Trump wins, GOP retains Senate. Game over. Either get your papers in order and start looking abroad, or learn to deal with the reality of it. The people who have been warning of "creeping authoritarianism" are, it will turn out, underselling it by a country mile. It will be Trump Unchained; it will spell the end of what's left of this rotted, doddering empire. A.R. Moxon has a fantastic thread enumerating the likely results. For the rest of my lifetime and probably yours, it will be a continued decline in every aspect -- economic, cultural, diplomatic, and more.
- Biden wins, GOP retains Senate. The slide into collapse will be slower, but no less sure. The remaining Goopers may half-heartedly pretend to reject Spray-Tan Satan and all his nefarious works, but only a complete moron could fail to see that Trump has been the culmination of the party, that everything that has taken place has not been in spite of him, but because he and they are perfectly aligned. They'll do everything they can to hamstring Biden and grease the skids for Josh Hawley, who is slightly more intelligent than Trump, but whose religious fanaticism is much more sincere.
- Trump wins, Dems flip Senate. This scenario is highly unlikely, but then look what we thought was impossible just four years ago. This would actually be better than the second outcome, as a Democratic Senate could effectively tie Trump's tiny, tiny hands in many areas. Whether they actually would, though, is as always a matter of fanciful speculation. Most of these assholes couldn't find their balls in a dark room with both hands and a flashlight. But the possibility would at least be there.
- Biden wins, Dems flip Senate. Obviously the best possible outcome, and one with a pretty fair chance of actually occurring. Since we've just come to passively accept that Trump will cheat or steal a close election, this scenario has to be assumed to be at least something of a blowout -- roughly a 2:1 EC spread, and probably about a 53-47 D-R spread (including Sanders and King on the D side). This gives the Dems a clear mandate to start unfucking everything Trump and his scumbag administration has done. Again, whether they will actually take yes for an answer and act quickly and decisively is another story. It's not an exaggeration to say that the next couple decades (at the very least) in this country will be directly determined by the choices they make in this scenario.
For what it's worth, despite my usual cranky pessimism, I am still cautiously optimistic that the last outcome will be the one that happens. Seventy million people have already voted, obviously an unprecedented number. We've all seen the videos of lines in state after state -- not just in corrupt shitholes like Georgia and Texas, but even in "safe" states like New York. This nation's voting system, state by state, is a fucking disgrace and an embarrassment, criminally so, and it should be one of the top three priorities for a Biden administration to address.
But it's probably safe to assume that most people do not wait for hours in line to vote for the politicians who made them wait for hours in line to vote. You know?
(California, I am pleased to report, seems to have a voting system that actually functions pretty well. I voted three weeks ago, and have already checked and verified that my vote was received and tallied. As I always point out, one in eight Americans live here, so as much as outliers like to complain -- and like any other state, California certainly has its problems -- this is something that is working at a very large scale. Maybe it's not the smartest idea in the world to have essentially fifty different voting systems. Maybe it's time to standardize as much of this as possible, and not leave substantial swaths of the country at the mercy of backdoored Serbian software with no paper trails.)Prison for praise is not worth thinking
Sin is still in and our ballots are shrinking
So unleash the dogs - the only solution
Forgive and forget, fuck no
I'm talking about a revolution -- Corrosion of Conformity, Vote With a Bullet
Enough people seem to be ready to change the channel on this reality shitshow, and that's at least something. But we all have to do this with the realization that, even in a 538-0 EC massacre, an 80-20 popular vote split, even if that were to occur, the work still needs to be done, and it's just beginning.
And I wouldn't discount the very real probability -- fairly low but not insubstantial -- that the Supreme Court will steal it for him, right out in the open. Brett "Rapebro McGambledrunk" Kavanaugh's specious, nakedly partisan ruling essentially boils down to states can count ballots as long as they're Republicon ballots, and again, they're not even trying to hide this. Kavanaugh, Roberts, and Barrett (Ofjesse) all cut their teeth helping Fredo Arbusto steal the 2000 election from one Albert Arnold Gore, Junior.
(Knowing what you now know, you think maybe Gore should have carried his home state, or picked a decent running mate, or maybe fought harder for Florida? It really isn't 100% Thanksralph's fault here, not by a long shot. There's a lot of blame to go around.)
Political common taters across the spectrum are fond of pointing the finger at this or that party or elected representative as some sort of strategic or logistical fulcrum by which legislative impunity or perfidy gets leveraged. But every elected representative, no matter how great or awful, is an accurate reflection of the people who voted for them -- and of the people who couldn't be bothered to show up to vote against them.
This is the foundational problem with democracy, it turns out -- in a nation teeming with Idiocracy rejects, the fact of the matter is that no matter how smart or engaged you might be, the system is always at the mercy of the dumbest, most inconsiderate dipshit in the class.
Just like real life -- the last time you drove somewhere, it wasn't the 95% of drivers who watched where they were going and paid attention who you noticed, it was that asshole that merged right on your front bumper and hit the brakes. It's that jerkoff that takes two or three parking spots because he's just that fuckin' special. It's the tool in Costco that leaves their flat-cart across the middle of the aisle while they waddle away for "just a second" to find that five-gallon bucket of mayonnaise.
So it is with the process of collectively determining who might be the best-suited to manage the nation's well-being, to maintain its increasingly tenuous standing in an interdependent world that has already begun shifting its focus to the burgeoning Indian Ocean nations. It's the "undecided" voters, these fickle doofuses trudging along in "swing" states, who can't muster much in the way of empirical facts, but do understand all too well the disproportionate power they wield just because they live in Ohio or Florida.
(I don't know if we'll ever be rid of the damned Electoral College, but it would be the biggest favor we ever did ourselves, regardless of political affiliation. The look on my few remaining Republicon friends' faces when I remind them that, since they're in California, their votes don't really count, is priceless.
But the fact of the matter is, the only people who still support keeping the EC are the same people who support all the various, nefarious forms of voter suppression across the country. It all boils down to the same thing: they're afraid of a fair fight. That's all there is to any of this. The fact of the matter is that there are some people who believe that rather than one citizen equals one vote, that one dollar or one acre equals a vote. Wonder who they keep getting that notion from.)
From time to time throughout this wondrous year, I have mentioned that I will be shutting down the blog at the end of the year. This was a decision I had made in the Before Times, before the #TrumpPlague took over everyone's lives, whether or not it actually infected them. I would modify that ever so slightly and say that there is a slim chance -- like five to ten percent -- that in the instance of Outcome #4 listed above (Biden wins; Dems flip Senate) I might instead take a brief hiatus and then return in some limited format, a couple posts a month or something.
For a while I thought about starting a Substack and at least collecting beer money for my cranky perambulations, but the fact is that it's increasingly difficult to keep writing about the same things over and over again. Turns out the daily spew from a hideous rage-goblin gets old after a while. And win or lose, the fucker ain't going away until the bitter end.
Trump has indeed sucked most of the oxygen out of the room and made it all about him, as he does, but there's more to it than that. Frankly, it's beyond demoralizing to be reminded on a daily basis that at somewhere between a third and half of your fellow citizens are fine with all this winning, that they want more of it, now. It's almost as demoralizing to consider that the putative opposition party has to be cajoled and wheedled into doing the bare minimum -- and frequently not even that -- to protect basic constitutional norms, to at least try to uphold the remaining integrity of the document they swore to protect and defend.
Even in the best case scenario, the winning party will have to be reminded constantly that there is no "returning" to a pre-Trump "normal," that those days are gone for good, and they can't get there from here. And while I get that all of us have been exhausted by this ridiculous toddler and his scummy family and henchmen, I frankly don't trust anyone beyond the usual "political junkie" (a pejorative I've always despised, connoting as it does an unreasonable fixation on, you know, what the people who make decisions that affect everyone's lives are doing and saying) class to remain engaged.
This thing will not work -- will grind to a fucking halt, I promise you -- if enough people are not willing to stick with it, to show up and vote every time, to make sure they're registered, to pay attention to who's doing what. As long as we have a critical mass of people who can only (maybe) be motivated by well-meaning pods of strangers, canvassing neighborhoods like Jehovah's Witness to plead with their fellow citizens to do their bare basic minimum civic duty, we're going to keep coming back to this.
Except the next Trump won't be a slobby, ludicrous buffoon. We all know that, but it's as if we're all waiting for someone else to do something about it. And it's true that as individuals, we have been rendered powerless in most respects.
But one thing you do have control over is the realization that the American political media -- with a few notable exceptions, but by and large -- is nothing more than a giant PR machine for the psychotic billionaires who really run this joint. Frank Zappa once said that "politics is the entertainment arm of industry," and boy was he ever right about that. There is not a lot of daylight between the coverage of most of those shows, and that of the Kardashians.
(Again, you can only generalize so far, but it tells you a lot about a certain number and type of person that anyone at all is still paying attention to those useless dunces. They can't just go rent their fucking island for their birthday and leave the rest of us alone, they have to rub everyone's nose in it. For the love of all that is profane and unholy, change the goddamned channel on these people, none of whom have ever done a single thing to merit the slightest bit of attention.)
So boycott the political media, boycott their sponsors, tell them what you're doing and why. If enough people do that, they will have to listen. CNN would be a great place to start -- CEO Jeff Zucker is one of the two people most responsible for Trump (Mark Burnett being the other so, uh, you might want to boycott The Voice while you're at it). The current dingbat posing as press suckaterry for this human centipede of an administration got her start as the token yammering conservatard on their stupid panel shows.
I think most normal people would prefer to just cast their vote and then get back to their lives. That is not feasible for at least the next few election cycles, if ever. Unless you stock the entire Democratic party with AOC clones, people who are passionate and smart and actually give a shit, and who you don't have to watch 24-7, this is how it is for now. We will have to keep Biden and Harris to their word; we will have to make our senators step up their game and get shit done, to put country not only party, but over whatever remnants of "collegiality" they want to cling to.
There are no good Republicons. They must be crushed. That's all there is to it.
The choice here is flawed but obvious -- fascism or not-fascism. White supremacy and theocratic authoritarianism with a corporate veneer, or not. I can give you a dozen things that annoy me about Joe Biden, but as P.J. O'Rourke memorably said about Hillary Clinton, Biden is "wrong within normal parameters."
If there's a more perfect metaphor for everything Trump has done in his life -- not just as chief executive, but all along -- it was last night. He held another super-spreader rally in Omaha -- where exactly one electoral vote is at stake -- and thousands of attendees, many of them elderly and enfeebled, were stranded for hours in the 31-degree night. At least seven of these idiot codgers were taken to the hospital for hypothermia.
To which I say, Good. Serves them right. I wish them all the very worst things in life, for however much remains for them. If they still want to vote for the geezer freezer after that, they deserve every single bit of the predictable consequences.
It's important to see things and people as they really are, and to act accordingly. Not react -- you don't need to run out and tell all your relatives and co-workers to go fuck themselves. That accomplishes nothing. It means to understand them, perhaps better than they are willing to consider the situation and understand themselves on honest terms, and take it from there. Maybe they can be reasoned with, maybe not. If not, just walk away, don't engage. Not worth your time to try to reason with people who have chosen to live in their own reality.
And in that instance, it's also an important fact to keep in mind -- Trump is an authoritarian fascist in nature and character, and will always behave as such. He cannot do otherwise. His party has chosen to ride along as far as the road takes them. The people who show up to the rallies have chosen the same path. They are all complicit in what has happened, and what is yet to happen. This is important to keep in mind.
Consider the following sketch: two young men, Jeff and Larry, pull up to a convenience store. Jeff is driving, Larry is going to enter the store and rob it.
EXT. SHOT -- STORE PARKING LOT: Car pulls abruptly into parking space near entrance. LARRY hops out and heads through the door.
INT. -- CONVENIENCE STORE: LARRY looks around the store, sees no other customers, approaches counter and pulls a gun on CLERK.
LARRY: Give me everything in the register and the safe.
CLERK [opening register]: I can't open the safe.
LARRY [takes register cash, clearly dismayed at the measly amount]: This all you got?
CLERK [bemused]: No one pays with cash anymore. You know what year it is, right?
LARRY [glares, pissed]: Smart-ass motherfucker! [shoots CLERK twice, heads out door and back to car]
JEFF: You have a gun? That wasn't part of the plan.
LARRY: What'd you think I was gonna rob him with, a spoon? Get the fuck out of here!
Now, at that point, Jeff has a choice to make. He can get out and run, and when the authorities eventually catch up to him he can hopefully convince them that he really didn't know Larry had a gun, or that he would shoot the clerk. Or he can put the car into gear and start driving away, which would immediately make him an accomplice, just as surely as if he'd killed that clerk himself. As far as the law is concerned, Jeff is a mur-diddly-urderer, pure and simple.
So it is with anyone still willing to support Trump, and especially the people attending the rallies, paid or not. There's still time to get out and run, but they choose not to. This is entirely of their own volition, and pretending that some Russian micro-targeted ad campaign bamboozled them somehow is just about the dumbest thing to believe in. They know what they're doing, what they're supporting, and why they're there. He's spreading hate, lies, fear, violence, and disease, and they want all of that, as if it's the purest heroin, injected straight into the collapsed veins of their arms. They can't get enough of it. If someone created Trump suppositories, these rubes would kill each other with their bare hands just for the right to stick one up their gaping assholes.
[Note to self: Possible marketing idea -- Trump suppositories. Soaked in oxy or fentanyl maybe? Cheap vodka? Red white and blue, or would color really matter once they've been used? The whole family, or just the big guy?]
How many times can you hear it? It goes on all day long.
Everyone knows everything, and no one's ever wrong -- until later.... -- Rush, Show Don't Tell
It's important to see them for who they are, and to act accordingly -- not to confront them directly, since we've already established that as a complete waste of time, but to find ways to counteract them, to offset the things they do and say.
But there's a difference between paying sufficient attention and showing up as needed, and immersing ourselves in the arcane strategies of the weasel-faced consultants who appear like young Jimmy the Greek types, to offer their pigskin prognostications. Those people are only talking to each other, and to potential clients. They are not talking to you. Ignore them.
I made a decision to see this through partly out of some perverse sense of "duty," to make it to the end of this dismal movie, to watch how the fifty-car pile-up turns out, etc. That is definitely a huge factor in this. I've watched every scene of this stinker so far, I might as well see the end.
But there's also the realization that there really is no end, not a clean, defined one anyway. Either Trump wins and we're done, as far as an America that suits the majority of its inhabitants, or the Democrats win and we get to watch their feckless dithering for a couple years. Lather, rinse, repeat.
The only end that really matters is how each of us can begin turning away from this ongoing wreck, this sham of a government, and get back to fulfilling what used to be important to us individually. Surely we must be motivated by something more than tuning in for this week's scaremongering. I think a lot of us have lost some of that along the way. There are times when I think I have lost that, and other times when I look back and find a random past post to review and think, okay, that was pretty damned good. I caught something there.
There will be a few posts to wrap up the end of the election cycle, the year, etc. Stay tuned, stay frosty. Keep your fingers crossed for the big day. I'm always glad to be wrong about this sort of thing -- maybe it'll all work out. See you next Tuesday.