Hoover flags, they called empty pockets in 1931, and they became emblematic of Herbert Hoover’s abject failure in dealing with the Great Depression. I suspect homemade face masks are becoming Trump’s Hoover Flags.
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.
Having been a virgin once myself, I feel compelled to point out that there is nothing in any of the accusations against Brent Kavanaugh that would have terminated his own status as a virgin. He humiliated himself on national television for no reason at all. Kavanaugh still could be guilty of sexual assault, but now Trump thinks he’s a sissy. Oh the irony.
It’s sort of like Lyndon LaRouche won the presidency. Just as weird, just as paranoid, just as out of it. His acolytes were complete nutcases. We laughed back then. Then some idiot invented the internet.
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.
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.
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.