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So: a year ago, my faith in the world was irreparably shattered. A… - John [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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[Nov. 8th, 2017|09:32 pm]
So: a year ago, my faith in the world was irreparably shattered. A bigot, a liar, an idiot, and an incompetent won the US Presidency. Since that time, I've been doing a lot of thinking, and realizing just how deep the rot goes.

First: the Republicans crossed a big red line for me. They've gleefully used their power as the majority in Congress to harm their enemies and help their friends, to the point that when there was an obviously nakedly partisan investigation of Benghazi, no one even raised an eyebrow. Sure, they were trying to make political hay out of a terrorist attack; sure; they were continuing to spread lies about what we knew and didn't, and when; sure, everyone knew it was all an attempt to damage Hillary Clinton's electoral chances... but the story was "there is an investigation", not "the Republicans continue to abuse their investigative powers."

But they went beyond that. This time, they, as a party, got behind the false message that Hillary Clinton may have engaged in criminal behavior, in spite of there being no evidence, and not even a cause for suspicion, of a crime. They had former prosecutors get in front of the crowd at their convention, and lie about whether Hillary Clinton committed crimes, and whether those crimes are, historically speaking, prosecuted.

They had used their role as the legislative branch of the federal government to attack, insinuate, harass, and otherwise damage their political opponents, but this time they were co-opting the criminal justice system. This was a hideous thing at the time; if I ever discussed as anything else, I suppose it was because I thought "hey, you bozos are stuck with Trump, and therefore, you're going to lose."

But that didn't happen. What did happen was one of three things.

James Comey was a partisan, and affected the election for political purposes, or
James Comey was a coward, and affected the election for fear of possible consequences of inaction, or
James Comey was living under threat of other FBI agents leaking, including (reports said) some who handed in their resignation because he advised against prosecuting Hillary Clinton, and felt his sure-to-be-leaked letter was the best of bad options.

Of course, the third doesn't differ from the second too much. If a law enforcement officer tenders a resignation because a decision was made not to indict someone who committed no crime, it should be accepted - assuming it can't be rejected, because they are fired for wanting to use law enforcement for political purposes.

Of course, maybe I'm being too harsh in saying that they wanted to use law enforcement for political purposes. If so, it points to a much worse reality: a fair number of FBI agents became convinced that Hillary Clinton was a criminal simply because of the unending string of GOP attacks against her. This is far too close to the claim attributed to Karl Rove, "we're an empire now, and create our own reality." And they do create their own reality, in many ways, with lies of omission and commission and it seems to work.

Here's the thing: I've heard Trump is liked in the military. Now, this really bothers me, not because they're not allowed to like whoever they want, but because a ridiculous braggart like Trump, who always claims to be the best at everything (or at least able to accomplish the best of everything)... I always felt that most military folks wouldn't have anything to do with that crap.

They know that bragging isn't anything, and some of the biggest talkers find that the job's a lot harder once you have to do it. Maybe they saw someone in boot camp, thinking like Trump, that they were really hot stuff and would kick every butt and take every name. I'll guarantee you they saw what happened to such folks when the run up against a real challenge they can't bluff their way through: either they learned a bit of humility and possibly went on to become good members of the military; or they were the eternal screw-up, with the proverbial asshole-excuse ("everyone has one and most of 'em stink") for every problem... but who hopefully never made it out of boot camp.

Maybe they'd like Trump as their kind of bastard, okay? But I don't know how they could respect him as a man. Not enough to make an empty blowhard their commander in chief. Except... "we're an empire now, and we make our own reality." There's a big right wing noise machine helping shape that reality.

Similarly, the people out there - who doesn't know a Trump, who thinks he could do everything better than anybody, but just hasn't been given a chance yet? Who ever believes someone who talks like that? Except... "we're an empire now", aren't we? With enough voices explaining that he's perfectly normal, just campaigning and all, and all of those voices attacking those who point out the flat out impossibility of some of his promises.

You've seen a lot more racism since Trump was elected, and some of it's inexcusable. But some of it? We're an empire now, don't you know. Republican trade, tax and regulatory policy encourages the shedding of jobs, and the ability to turn previously good jobs into lower paid part time, or contracting, work. What if, the "empire" was constantly saying that the problem wasn't Republican policies, but it was all the set-asides and benefits for blacks, women, and other minorities? What if people have been hearing this message, undocumented workers, and these special opportunities given only to minorities, never to white men, are why life sucks so much right now?

What if they've been hearing that they'd have higher wages, and a better life, if there were tax cuts for billionaires, "but the Democrats won't cut taxes because they are giving away stuff to minorities?"

If you get enough people to say it, enough people to repeat it uncritically, and, especially if you caution people that you're the only one they can trust to tell them the simple, unvarnished truth, because the other guys hate you and look down on you and sneer at you... well, you can forge a sort of "new reality".

One where people can meet Russians who promise the government has dirt on Hillary Clinton, but that's not collusion. One where the President's top advisor wants to create a way to talk to the Russian government that's hidden from law enforcement isn't collusion; and isn't damning behavior. One where conflicts of interest, business entanglements, and likely outright criminal behavior can be swept away. One where any attack that scores on Team Trump is a sign that the bad guys are winning, no matter the crime, no matter the evidence. Where proof positive that Trump worked with Russia with flagrant disregard for US interests and multiple statements showing that he obstructed justice, become proof positive that the dark forces always had it in for Trump.

My dream was, and remains, that the GOP will implode from their own incompetence, ruining their brand for the foreseeable future (but not harming the US... a forlorn hope, a lot of damage is already done!) but I don't think that will happen if they don't bring down the right wing noise machine, which would constantly blame the Democrats, and a few "fake Republicans" and become a danger again in the next election cycle.