Monday, June 1, 2020

War Porn

So, what happened today?

Trump had the area around the White House cleared so that he could take this photo. It is, without getting too graphic, a perfect example of an image of "war porn" as you're ever going to see. It is designed to flatter the vanity of the dictator and make him look powerful and strong.

These doughy, overly serious looking men are flanked by blonde women and tough guy security forces. You can see a little diversity creeping in, but barely. They have hapless General Mark Milley in his Battle Dress Uniform because having him out there in his Class A uniform would be considered too weak, of course. If General Milley had a shred of dignity or pride, he would have resigned months ago. For him to participate in a Trump campaign photo op is embarrassing. 

This image of war porn is, of course, just campaign paraphernalia from the Trump organization. It's an abuse of power. 

You're witnessing the creation of a myth. 

The myth is that Trump is surrounded by competent people. He is not. He is surrounded by lawless sycophants. 

The myth is that he is a strong man. No, he's a #BunkerBitch, a man who cowers in fear when Americans gather around him to protest. 

The myth is that he is there to protect his blonde young women. Nothing could be more ridiculous. It's another dog whistle that he's blowing to his racist followers -- look at me and my property. 

Here's the wide angle shot, staged with the same slapdash urgency of a White House that couldn't organize a one car parade.

Looks like a future perp walk to me. We will need a modern-day equivalent of the Nuremberg Trials when we reach the point where we can reckon with all of the damage these people have done to our country.

Here's the reality of today's dog and pony show.

Photo by Doug Mills, NYT

Incredibly Unpopular and Universally Disliked

Buried in today's "transcript" or "retelling" of the call that Trump had today with the nation's governors is a plea from the governor of Maine to stay the hell away because he is a toxic stew of boiling shit:

I really thought this was going to be about Trump making demands for a cash payment or something along those lines. We know that he likes to wet his beak and we know that he uses his visits to enrich himself. Not sure what going to Maine gets him because he's going to be blown out there like any other Northeastern state. If Trump's campaign thinks they have to fight for one or two of Maine's electoral votes, then they're already on the path to being beaten this fall.

But what was buried in the call was Trump talking about himself in the third person and asserting that the people "like their president."

The hell they do.

This week should have been a stark reminder that Trump is a divisive, unpopular figure who is not wanted anywhere. For a while there, he couldn't show up at major sporting events because he was so universally reviled. And now he believes he is popular in places like Maine where Senator Susan Collins is getting beaten in the polls?

Someone is feeding Trump a huge lump of bullshit every minute of every day and it's just sad that at this point that he feels the need to tell people that the people like him.

Read the room, asshole. They don't even want you when you're hiding in your bunker.

Friday, May 29, 2020

This American Carnage

Do you hear or see anyone asking the right questions?

Why is this happening? That's what Chris Hayes on MSNBC tries to ask each week. That's what you see Don Lemon trying to figure out each time he comes on television. I see a number of people trying to figure this out and my hat is off to them.

This American carnage. What is it, who caused it, what unleashed it?

Well, the white supremacy and the violence was always there. It was there a hundred years ago, two hundred years ago. What is happening right now is that the forces that may have kept it under wraps are no longer trying to compel people to do the decent thing. In the 1950s, in the 1930s, and certainly in the aftermath of the First World War, no one really tried to keep the violence in check. You had whole communities obliterated, burned to the ground, an entire generation would see unchecked violence in their communities. Then, they would get to see it happen to their children and their grand children.

They were only just now reversing decades of economic decline in Washington D.C., especially in the areas where there were riots after the death of Martin Luther King Jr. They were really trying to turn things around in the neighborhoods of South Minneapolis that were devastated by the routing of I-35 through traditionally African-American neighborhoods, and parts of town ruined by the explosion of crack cocaine in the 1980s and 1990s.

The carnage was unleashed by you and me. It was unleashed by a failure to remember that we need to be neighbors with one another. We can not and should not tolerate race baiting and jackassery. We fell asleep at the switch and Trump figured out how to make hay out of negligence and ignorance. He didn't create any of this. He just learned how to grab the ropes and pull them a certain way, giving us division and hatred like we haven't seen in a while.

Those of us who moved out of the big cities and found pleasant suburbs more to our liking left people to the ruin and loss they see on television right now. We abandoned the big cities and now they are going to burn, man. When the shit shows up on your leafy cul-de-sac, then you'll know what's really happening.

I've seen this with Baltimore and Freddy Gray. How we ended up here is no mystery. We never learn, we never invest, we never reverse the course. We just watch the shit go down and pretend that voting and showing up doesn't change a thing.

Yeah, it did this time. You see what's happening, you see over a hundred thousand Americans are dead because of indifference and poor leadership and you know what carnage looks like. You see the brutality but refuse to acknowledge that you won't go into the bad part of town because "those people" deserve to be policed like this. You see what's happening.

It's carnage. It's a direct action, a call to arms, an opportunity to agitate and express the will of the people. And when someone runs by with a bottle of booze, that old feeling kicks in, that old sense that someone's got it coming.

We all have it coming.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A Failure to Lead

Here's the Vice President of the United States of America, out and about during a global pandemic, ordering food in a restaurant that is half-assing its way into oblivion.

Not only is this irresponsible and reckless and a demonstration of Pence's incompetence, it's also ridiculous to the nth degree. There are almost 100,000 dead Americans who would love to be eating out today, but because of Pence and his boss, they'll never get that chance. There are countless Americans who are wearing masks and staying home and doing the right thing. Pence has set such a poor example for them that you can't help but wonder how much more crazy people will get when they go out into public places and run into any kind of pushback for failing to wear a mask.

It's nonsensical to expect any of them to "get it." They won't perform the mental gymnastics necessary to understand the need to sacrifice something personal for the common good. They won't arrive at a common sense moment, ever. You don't wear the mask for yourself. You wear it to minimize the possibility of infecting someone else. That's because the experts have told us that this is one way to return to social interaction with some degree of safety.

Fuck it, they say. No egghead is going to tell me what to do! And then they drown in their own liquified, blood-soaked lungs. Down comes the curtain! No learning necessary. On to the next human tragedy.

The default setting for those who take their cue from Pence is, "I will do whatever I want and fuck you if you die because I'm not giving up my freedom."

Pence is a lickspittle and a toady, and that will never change.