Sunday. Time for a rest. Tough week.
I lost hearing in my left ear a week ago, so now I’m blind in the left eye and deaf on that side too. I feel like Tommy. All I need is a pinball machine and I’ll be a wizard. I went to pick out a Springer pup in 1980, and there was one the kennel owners had named Ody (from the Garfield comic strip series). He was clumsy and ran into things, and he ran into me several times and I asked the owners why. They told me Ody had been born blind, bilaterally detached retinas, and that they were putting him down the next morning. Well, I put Ody down, fourteen years later, and there isn’t a day that goes by I don’t think of all the good times we had.
There was a kitten, a little stray, that came to our door, and we fed her milk and kitty kibble, and I came home one day and found her, in agony, on my doorstep. I took her to a friend, a veterinarian, and he x-rayed a wound I’d found on her shoulder, and there was a pellet in the joint. She lost her front left leg and I took her home. I found out who did it, a ten year old sadist who lived down the street, by the way, but now I had a blind dog and a three-legged cat.
Life in our house was interesting.
This has been an odd week, an interesting week, I guess, news-wise anyway, capping off an especially weird five or so weeks, but first, I wanted to mention the image above, taken by a 767 pilot who flies for a South American airline. Santiago Borja Lopez’s images of passing cloudscapes are worth a look, as he’s really captured the feel up on the flight deck, an expansive view, much more so than what’s afforded by the typical ‘peephole’ airline window. I’d guess he’s fitted a DSLR with a lightning trigger, but holy smokes! What a shot!
Trump has presented a “interesting” paradox to the world, and to American voters, for well over a year now. Vote for me and I’ll drain the swamp. I’ll tear down the established order and “rebuild” America. “Make America Great Again!” The problem, it seems to me, is that that are a lot of blind people out there, hobbled not by missing legs, but by tortured intellect.
Like, really, it was THAT bad? Go back eight years, think about what the last Republican administration left behind. Now we hear cries from the right to “let him have a chance to do what he promised to do!” Well, that could a problem, perhaps a really big problem. Aside from destroying the very fabric of our country with lies manufactured by the so-called alt-Right, what else is going on? And heck, let’s just forget about how nice and polite these very same Republicans were to Obama, how they forcefully spoke out to let Obama have a chance to do what he promised to do? Trump come to mind? Obama – born in Kenya? Ring any bells?
Well, as you know by now, I often fall back on history when looking at the present, and history offers a few very interesting examples of people like Trump, Bannon, et al. Go back to Munich, in the 1920s for example.
If you need a refresher, here’s a book review, of a new volume about Europe’s all time favorite party boy, Adolph Hitler. The book, as you’ll see, focuses on Hitler’s early years, his coming to power and how he systematically tore apart the democratic institutions of the Weimar Republic, and the parallels to Trump are as ominous as they are entertaining. Phrases like “Make Germany Great Again” and “the press is the enemy of the people” come to mind, but then again, there’s that old devil lurking in the shadow. History…that Bitch!
Trump’s father was famously asked, in 1938, who he thought was the world’s greatest leader. He could have mentioned Roosevelt, I guess, being an American and all, but no, Trump’s father emphatically declared his choice: Hitler. I guess, in the best possible circumstances, sons learn a lot from their fathers, and perhaps that’s why Trump has kept a copy of Mein Kampf on his bedside table – for years.
There are others who worry that Trump is simply Bannon’s puppet, or even under the sway of billionaires who helped bring on Brexit, and new revelations are bursting out daily – in Europe, anyway – about a new axis of evil: conservative billionaires trying to undo both America’s and Europe’s democratic institutions. The whole thing got me thinking about a funny movie that came out a few years back: The Sum of All Fears. An adaptation of Tom Clancy’s novel, the film departed from book in crucial ways. The Austrian Neo-fascist industrialist in the film declares that the best way to create a new ascendance of fascism in Europe is not to fight Russia and America, as Hitler did, but to get America and Russia to fight one another. A mushroom cloud over the Super Bowl caps off the festivities…
Yet as tanks and rockets gathered over the last two weeks in northeastern Europe, it may be prudent to once again – follow the money.
And that, of course, brings us full circle, back to Trump. What’s going on with Trump and Russia? What went on between his campaign and Russia? Even more interesting…if Hillary was in the White House today and these Russian revelations came out, do you think the Republicans in our Congress would be so reluctant to investigate the matter? What the devil os going on? The FBI’s partisanship in the election is on record, and now congress is ignoring their basic responsibility in a system of checks and balances? Are they subverting these responsibilities to a cabal of proto-fascists?
One emerging theme of the Trump administration is State’s Rights. As in, demolish the EPA, let states take over regulating the environment. Same with the Department of Education. Why? Well, federalism was meant to establish standards, standards that made it difficult for states like Alabama and Mississippi to dismantle racist, discriminatory laws that had been on the books since before the Civil War. Or so companies that dominate the political landscape in one state can’t buy off the legislature and dump toxic chemicals in local water supplies. And let’s not even talk about the new Secretary of Education’s stated desire to turn our public schools into Christian madrasas. Republicans bitch about the perils of such madness in places like Saudi Arabia and Iran, then act as cheerleaders when someone is appointed who wants to do the very same thing here?
The point here, that history is begging us not to forget, is that these regulations didn’t simply spring up out of nowhere. That were enacted to correct regulatory deficiencies that had been created by serially corrupt political institutions in individual states, and corporations have been patiently working, for decades, to undo the damage caused by people like Erin Brokovich. So just put it out of your mind. You don’t need clean water, or clean air, so go get your beer from the ‘fridge and turn on the game, sit back and enjoy your day off.
But, again, why do this? Well, if states enact truly wild laws, say Colorado enacting laws to legalize marijuana, and states ignore federal law, what happens? Well, in time, federal law becomes irrelevant. Now, what if there’s no federal law, or federal law enforcement agency(s)? Pretty soon the federal government simply becomes irrelevant.
Let that sink in for a minute.
If the federal government becomes irrelevant, what happens to the notion of the United States of America?
Hitler dismissed diplomats, and Trump is cutting the State Department down to bare bones, despite a letter signed by over a hundred current general officers, from all branches of the military, stating that this is the best way to insure war and global instability. Another would be to cut off foreign aid, they argued, so of course Trump drastically cut foreign aid, by executive order, this weekend .
This smells like Bannon, the Leninist who’s declared aim is to tear American society apart, to burn it to the ground, so that something new can be built on the ashes.
And that’s where the law of unintended consequences comes into play.
If Bannon & Co get away with this, the power vacuum created will simply overrule all our existing assumptions about how the world works. If the federal government is burned to the ground, what takes it’s place? Corporations? Probably. That’s what happened in Hitler’s Germany.
It’s impossible to look at the lessons of Hitler’s Germany and fail to acknowledge that he had, in 1932, in the beginning, the support of around 40 percent of the German populace, and right after the war, a solid 35-40 percent of Germans still supported many aims of the National Socialists, and Hitler. It took generations to lower those figures, but they’ve never gone away, not completely.
So, it’s not impossible to think we are all on the edge of Nietzsche’s Abyss. You know, the old saw that says “whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
I doubt Trump and Bannon and all the people who support them see themselves as monsters. But then again, I doubt that Hitler and his minions ever saw themselves in that light. History, and history books, tends to be written by the victors, at least in it’s earliest, most suspect phase. It takes time to be able to step back and see the whole truth, yet that’s just where History can become a guide. A guide to the present.
We’ve seen Trump and his like before. To ignore History’s cry at this point would simply be an act of suicidal despair. These are perilous times. And they demand courageous voices to stand and be among the counted.
Think about that, the next time you stare into the abyss. Or, for that matter, into a mirror.
A few other posts to ponder:
Bruce Bartlett, a Reagan adviser, posted this to Twitter, today:
“Take Nixon in the deepest days of his Watergate paranoia, subtract 50 IQ points, add Twitter, and you have Trump today.”
Bloomberg Technology reported, “The president now spends hours some mornings watching Fox News, switching occasionally to CNBC for business headlines, along with a daily diet of newspapers and press clippings, said the official, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. On the evenings when he doesn’t have a dinner or briefing, Trump will spend most of his TV-viewing time watching Fox News shows hosted by Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity, the aide said” (and that, to my mind, is a “tortured intellect”).
Discord in the White house?
“Before heading off to his so-called “winter White House” in Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday, President Donald Trump summoned some of his senior staff to the Oval Office and went “ballistic,” senior White House sources told ABC News.
“The president erupted with anger over the latest slew of news reports connecting Russia with the new administration — specifically the abrupt decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign.
“With Marine One waiting on the South Lawn, Trump and his team engaged in an animated exchange — captured by press pool cameras peering in through the windows from the White House South Lawn. Trump then left the office for the helicopter, taking the hands of his young grandchildren and joined by his daughter Ivanka and Kushner.
“As President Trump was in the air aboard Marine One headed for Air Force One on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews, a last-minute phone call was made from the West Wing to the team on board the president’s plane with a directive to remove Priebus and Bannon from the manifest, sources said. They would not be coming to the Sunshine State.”
From Daily Kos, and connecting the dots re RussiaGate: “On her show last night, Rachel Maddow brought up a dot that I hadn’t even seen in the puzzle before. She asked a very simple question, “How did we end up with transcripts of the Mike Flynn phone calls to the Russian ambassador”? It is both legal, and standard practice for US intelligence agents to monitor foreign nationals, so they do. But there’s a loophole there. It’s legal to monitor a foreign national’s phone calls, but still illegal to monitor a US citizen. If they’re following protocol, they were required to hang up and disconnect their phone surveillance the moment they identified an American citizen on the line. So, how did we end up with a transcript of their conversation?
“Here’s how. They could keep on listening in and taping merrily away if they already had a FISA warrant out on Mike Flynn. With that warrant, all bets are off. So, if they ended up with a transcript of Flynn’s call(s) to the ambassador, then it’s a de facto admission that there was already a FISA warrant on Flynn before the phone calls took place, otherwise they would have had to disconnect the call once they identified Flynn.
“How long have they had a warrant for Flynn? How much more have they collected before the phone calls tipped their hands? And who else is wandering around out there with a warrant taped to their backs? We have no way of knowing, but the way things are going down with this Klown Kar circus, we might be finding out more soon.
“And one more thing to consider. For the most part, the Trump campaign hierarchy are not seasoned political operatives, they’re rank outsiders. They have personal agendas that they will be loathe to risk. Think the knowledge that someone like Flynn apparently had a warrant already on him may be giving them a twitchy feeling between their shoulder blades? Almost makes you wonder what a knock on the front door from a couple of FBI agents might uncover right out of the gate? This is getting interesting.”