Monday, July 25, 2022

How far down the rabbit hole before we can't find our way back?

 

   I started this week with a phone call from a person I hadn't heard from in years.  At first, I was pleased to be back in touch with him. We spent some time catching up, and then came a foul breeze out of the dismal swamp. He asked me how I feel about the vaccines.  I replied that I am fully vaxxed and double-boosted and when another booster is ready, I will be in line for it as soon as possible.

  This individual mistook this as an opening to launch into the whole conspiracy thing.  It starts with minor observations, that sound just a little bit off, but, it quickly segues into full-blown Q-Anon quality insanity.  Pretty soon he was declaring that he has unimpeachable sources that prove the vaccines are the, "Death Shot", and it snowballed from there.  

  Okay, I have known this man for over 30 years.  He is the educated son of a doctor.  He has a highly capable intellect, and one would never in a million years expect to hear the paranoid foolishness that came out of his mouth.  I had him on speaker and my wife was sitting across the dining table listening as the conversation took a nose-dive into insanity.  We looked at each other and rolled our eyes, then shook our heads and finally managed our best facial renditions of being 'gobsmacked'.  

  Somehow, it hasn't bothered me all that much to hear this kind of crazy from people out there in the Great American Outback.  I have travelled enough to know that our great continent has always had pockets of either stupidity or just out-of-touch idiocy.  Yes, it's disconcerting when you suddenly realize you are in one of these 'dumb zones', but, it's also clear that you will be somewhere else in a short time, so no need to be concerned. We used to joke that we were hearing the theme from 'Deliverance' as we drove through...."Da,da,da,..dun da".  And, then, it's behind you.

  It's an entirely different matter when you hear seven shades of crazy coming out of the mouth of someone you would never expect it from. That's what threw me for a loop this morning.  The longer this man spoke the deeper the shit got and I finally had to shut it down with, "I can't do this.  What you are saying is just too insane for me to accept."  Even as these words came out of my mouth I was thinking of the veritable tsunami of untruths that we have been assaulted with over the last five, hell seven, years. 

  I have read a number of articles attempting to understand/explain how the right is steadily working at eroding our relationship to a fundamental concept known as, "The Truth".  These people instinctively realize that if they succeed in destroying Americans trust in certain things formerly accepted as basic and bedrock ...objectively and provably, fucking TRUE.....that they can pretty much insert their version of what they WANT TO BE TRUE, but is not at all so.  Ever since Kelley Ann Conway stood outside the White House and asserted to the press that there are, '...alternative facts', the ground under us has become less and less firm, and now is virtually gelatinous.  We have been steadily dragged into a far-right swamp of foggy ideas...all of which are intended to achieve power over anybody who is not a white supremecist. Many researchers have studied how nations leave democracy behind in favor of a 'strongman' who becomes their Dear Leader.  The methods and the progression of steps is very well known and recognized at this point.  And, we are right on track to do this.  It's scary and tragic, but it's also inevitable unless the rational and freedom-loving people in America get busy.....I mean really engaged and active in doing whatever they can to squelch the assault on our democracy.

  In conversations with sensible people that I have had over the last two years, there has been a common and emergent theme: "I just don't know what or who to trust anymore".   And, that is a clear indication of how much the insurgent fascists are gaining ground in mainstream America.  This is precisely what they want people to think and feel, because it creates a yawning opening for them to insert all the crazy shit that they have taught themselves to believe. 

  It's not very difficult to see what is driving all of this insanity and the hostility and even the potential for violence that we saw a small glimpse of on Jan.6.  It is FEAR. Pure and simple.  And, that is, again, exactly what the insurgents, i.e. the MAGAs, want.  The more fear they can pump up in their base, the more likely those people will not only vote for their candidates, but will even be willing to commit violence if it becomes necessary--in their sick view--to maintain power, and fully realize a white supremecist state.  We watched in horror as this became a stark reality on January 6th. 

  This is not far flung speculation. I wish it was. This is simply a description of what they want and how they are making inroads towards getting it.  A growing number of pundits are speculating that events on that terrible day could have gone horribly off the rails if even a few small items had fallen into place. For example, if the capitol police had been ordered to use lethal force.  One did and MAGA-world has used the 'martyrdom' of Ashlee Babbit to good advantage....closely paralleling the Nazis use of a stormtrooper who died in their 1923 Munich putsch, Horst Wessel, as a martyr for their cause.  Of course, both Wessel and Babbit were actually insurgents working for the illegal overthrow of their respective governments.

  But, had the riot at the capitol on that day descended into a maelstrom of shooting by both sides the death toll and wounded count would have spiraled right out of sight.  Had the Secret Service agents in the presidential SUV not refused to carry the Orange Idiot to the capitol, that is almost certainly what would have happened.  Part of his plan all along was to lead his followers in a bloody coup d'├ętat and install himself--perhaps permanently--as America's first Emperor.  Of course, he's been watching the success of Putin and Xi Xinping, not to mention all the other pocket dictators, i.e. Erdogan, Bolsonaro, Duterte, and on and on.  It's not a wild speculation to pose the idea that Trump uses the methods and means of these despots to decide how to proceed towards his own coronation.

  It's now a horse-race to see if the Democrats and the few remaining GOPs who have not imbibed the Kool-Aid, can A: wake up in time, and B: do something of such power and effectiveness that it will stop the coming Facist Front.

  Because, like the Climate Crisis, it is not over the horizon anymore.  It 's here and we need to really get that with sufficient alarm and determination that it can be addressed and stopped.


Do you really doubt that this man is, A: Batshit crazy, and, B: wants to be King?

  

Monday, July 4, 2022

Truth and Credibility

 

    If you are unaware of the testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson last week, that puts you in a very small minority.  Surrounded by mystery and anticipation, she was given a special session by the Jan 6 investigative committee...and, once it happened we saw why she merited such special consideration.

  On the surface, Ms. Hutchinson seems rather insignificant, even ordinary.  She's a former aide to Mark Meadows, Trump's Chief of Staff, of course, and she has a fairly impressive CV working for other conservatives, like Ted Cruz, for example.  But, until she sat down in front of the congressional committee, nobody would have imagined that her testimony would send the entire investigation into a new space....now looking directly at Trump as a criminal actor in fomenting the insurrection....which many GOPs still and amazingly claim was simply 'tourists' visiting their government's seat.


Cassidy Hutchinson, a profile in courage


  From the very first moments that she began to answer the committee's questions, it was apparent that this was somebody special.  Special?  Yes, very much so. She was clearly organized with her notes, and she spoke without emotion and with great clarity of meaning.  Her demeanor was--at least on the exterior--calm and ready to offer explanations for the sake of clarity where necessary or requested.

  Many decades ago, when I was a twenty-something initiate in my Sufi order, the Ruhaniat, I took a class in which the esoteric papers discussed the nature of peoples' physiognomy, i.e., the structure of a person's face.  I won't go into it here, but the long-term take-away for me has been the often validated notion that the quality of a person's ego and their soul are clearly visible in their face.

  The cliches along this line are many:  cruelty, intelligence, kindness, stupidity, wisdom, dishonesty....and on and on.  It requires very little skill or practice to see these qualities; one might say they are a bit like a 'table of contents' for a person's ego and their spirit as well.

 So, when Cassidy Hutchinson sat before a congressional committee and spoke, her face was telling the audience that  she was being clear, concise and TRUTHFUL.  You could not sit there in any kind of reasonably sane mindset and not see this.  

  And, this is precisely what scares the shit out of all the sleazy GOPs who just wish the entire episode and all the revelations surrounding it...would go away.  Forever.  But, much to their chagrin and embarrassment, it is not going away, quite the opposite.  Some pundits are now saying that others with inside knowledge of Trump, et al, behavior in the period leading up to and during the attempted coup, are being emboldened by Ms. Hutchinson's courage and honesty....and are coming forward to match, validate and supplement what she offered.

  For the first time, it's becoming apparent how serious the entire coup plot was and how close it came to becoming our national nightmare.....a Trump government for the foreseeable future.

 Very and almost boringly predictable, the GOPs have responded to Ms. Hutchinson's speaking of truth to power...by attacking her on as many levels as their wee brains can find.  Starting with the Orange Idiot himself, and following down the line of despicables, i.e.Ted Cruz, Jim Jordan, Ron Johnson, Gomert, Bobert, and the great Moron: Taylor Greene.   They are becoming increasingly panicked as they realize that most of the country is not at all willing to let 'bygones be bygones' over the most  horrifying day in modern American history.  

  People, starting with the Idiot himself, plotted an illegal and treasonous overthrow of the government of the United States of America....and, that is not something that will go away.......ever.  There is also the clear sense in many quarters that Jan 6 was a REHEARSAL and if we don't deal with it definitively and to the fullest extent of the law.....it will come back to haunt us.

  It's very difficult, almost impossible, in fact, to get my head around the fact that approximately one third of Americans are ready to destroy our democracy if it means holding onto the power to opress.  Opress what?  People of color, i.e. the "Brown  Wave' that is coming to take over.   Women, already doing that at the supreme court level and all other levels.  LGBTQ is in their sights too, as are just about every person who is not exactly like them: white, Christian, straight, and far-right.

  So, America, what do you want to do about all this?  

  Please don't just sit on your ass and ignore it.

  Please...........................