The Fall of Men

My wife comes in with the mail. You got a new New York Review of Books she says, handing it to me. Thank god, a distraction. Facebook is a minefield and Twitter a massacre. Rachel Maddow just said penis a second time in five minutes on MSNBC. Film of Trump being a pig and Cosby being led to prison and more talk of Kavanaugh’s virginity. I switch off the TV and pick up the magazine. THE FALL OF MEN the cover said. Sigh. I put it down and flip on the radio. Joni Mitchell. Oh no. I never liked Joni Mitchell, but never felt guilty about it before. I turn off the radio and I switch on an old movie channel. Stella! yells Brando.

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Cheer up and vote

Saw a post about how democracy and civil rights have not changed much in the 250 years of American history. That it remains much as it stood when the country began. I replied with this:

If you say the country hasn’t changed very much you’re saying that all the progress thus far has been for naught. It’s changed vastly and for the better, it just can be even better. I remember back when I worked for the UFW we were delivering food to an impoverished farm workers camp on a ranch outside Santa Paula. It wasn’t the worst such camp I’d seen but this one was engaged in a strike and was being threatened with mass evictions. We did a helluva lot of work supporting that cause. A couple years ago I was telling Fyl that story as we drove down the 126 and noticed we’d missed our turn and needed to go back. I pulled into a driveway and I realized that this was the site of that wretched encampment but now I was looking at a rows of clean, modern farm workers housing that I didn’t even know was there. No filthy outhouses. No raw sewage in open ditches. No kids playing in dirt. This was the direct result of the big effort the UFW to get the filthy old camp replaced by decent housing. Don’t tell me a couple centuries of civil rights struggles have gotten us nowhere.

And let me add this now, that I think we get carried away by the unreality of virtual reality into not seeing what has really been done and why we have to keep doing more. We’re all keyboard warriors here and keyboard warriors’ fingers tire quickly. But civil rights and democracy are real world things that impact real people, even us. They require much more than our fired up fingers. They require commitment and not just our opinion. We are winning and have been winning, it’s just that the struggle is a never ending one.

So cheer up and vote.

Memes

The George Bush chimp meme set off the meme wars, if only because he was president when Facebook took off in a big way. As soon as Obama was elected the Right–especially the Tea Party–went nuts with their own vicious memes. And now with Trump we return the favor. And it’ll keep happening because each side holds the other side to rules that they themselves do not abide by. Which is nothing new, the pamphlets and newspapers in the 18th and 19th century were incredibly offensive and insulting and just as low brow as anything you see on your iPhone today. And both sides back then raged the same way we are all raging now, mortally offended by what the other side posts and finding all sorts of excuses for posting their own. Calls for censorship abounded, like they abound now, though the First Amendment prevented that for the most part. Now, though, with Facebook and Twitter essentially privatizing communication in ways that Ronald Reagan never imagined, wholesale censorship is possible in social media because the internet is somehow not considered to exist in the same heady constitutional air as the airwaves. Funny seeing the conservative stance on the internet suddenly condemned by outraged conservatives bewildered by the First Amendment. And funny too watching progressives defend social media as privately owned and free from those First Amendment restrictions. Meanwhile memes are fading, replaced by furious bursts of words. Not particularly intelligent words, necessarily, but words nonetheless. We’re getting oddly literate in the Age of Trump, even as Trump himself can barely tweet a coherent sentence.

The NRA at the crest of the Trump Revolution

As the NRA has been so successful at getting NRA true believers elected in red states and red districts, arming teachers has been the position of probably most Republicans in Congress for years, certainly in the House anyway.

And Lapierre’s crazed speech today at CPAC was aimed at the NRA membership, to get them fired up and terrifying Republicans into not defying Trump on this, being that Trump is essentially doing exactly what the NRA has long pushed for. They’ll even give up on bump stocks in exchange.

At the same time there will now undoubtedly be armed teacher legislation proposed in states nationwide, and much of it will pass. The most extreme gun rights legislation can always be found at the state level where the influence of the NRA is at its most effective. It might seem counter intuitive, but mass shootings invariably increase NRA membership and fundraising, not to mention cause rushes on ammo and assault weaponry. The NRA is at its peak after mass shootings. They are taking advantage of that power surge now.

So we are now at the very crest of the Trump revolution, before the 2018 deluge come November. His base is frenzied and the NRA are coldly calculating the possibilities. Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.

That Watergate deja vu

I had just turned seventeen in 1974 but today, for the first time, a lifetime later, a very unsettling Watergate deja vu envelops me, not as history or All The President’s Men, but of the experience of being outside that spring and summer as momentous political machinations turned inside behind closed doors. A feeling of utter helplessness. This is how history, big history, happens. If only we knew how it will all turn out. Time to turn off the news and get off the internet and disappear into a book or an old movie or more Duke Ellington. Time to escape this reality and slip into another, if only for a couple hours. Time to sign off.

Unfortunately neither Bevis nor Butthead had attained the constitutionally mandated minimum age.

I don’t understand the objections to celebrities for president. I voted for Johnny Carson for president (twice), then Cher, then Meat Loaf, and finally the entire cast of Hill Street Blues, or would have if they’d fit on the ballot.

Is Miley Cyrus thirty five yet?