Sunday in the Sun + 5 November 2017

bill-the-cat

Yes, it’s time to roll out Bill the Cat again. You remember Bill, don’t you?

No?

Well, perhaps you remember Bloom County?

Bloom buddies

Here’s wikipedia’s entry for Bill the Cat:

  • Bill the Cat is a large orange tabby cat. Introduced originally in the summer of 1982 as a parody of the comic character Garfield, and saying little beyond his trademark responses, “Ack” and “Pbthhh”, he has become something of a blank slate around which various plots revolved. Numerous strips indicated that his persistent near-catatonic state was the result of drug use or brain damage resulting from once being legally dead and then revived after too long a period. In the Christmas special A Wish for Wings That Work, Opus recounts having rescued Bill from a University Science Lab where they had replaced his brains with Tater Tots. He’s been a cultmember (“Bhagwan Bill”), televangelist (“Fundamentally Oral Bill”), perennial Presidential candidate (for the National Radical Meadow Party), heavy metal rock star (“Wild Bill Catt”), nuclear power plant operator at Chernobyl, and, in the last months of the series, had his brain surgically replaced with Donald Trump‘s. He has been known to speak on occasion, most notably during the Communist witch-hunt trials of which he has been a subject, when he remarked, “Say, you don’t suppose the ‘Jury Box’ is anything like a litter box, do you?” Bill has apparently had affairs with Jeane Kirkpatrick, Princess Diana and Socks the cat.
  • Oh, here’s today’s edition, if interested in such things.

I think Bill the Cat is the perfect metaphor for the age we find ourselves in – right now, today. Drug-addled, near-catatonic, stressed-out and wishing – against all odds – that this nightmare we find ourselves in would somehow just be over with, and real soon. That’s our Bill, wishful catatonia, yet even the latest polls hold this truth to be self-evident: Trump’s approval ratings are now lower than Harry Truman’s, which is saying something. Unless, that is, you get your daily fix of gnews related catatonia-inducing sludge from Fox, or the even more sinister Sinclair Broadcasting group of stations. If you do, then it is indeed Sunday in the Sun, where the sun is out and the skies are the bluest blue ever – even when it’s pouring rain and tornadoes line the near horizon.

Here in Amerika, a new day is dawning. The Orthodox Wing of the Republican Party abdicated this week, just kind of rolled over and whimpered on their way out of the room. The jack-booted thugs of Trumptopia have won, you see, in case you didn’t know that already.

A Republican House of Representatives, after almost forty years of crying about the dangers of running huge deficits, have introduced a so-called tax relief bill that is simply not funding any of these cuts. Magic Money, anyone? To make matters more interesting, these guys are padding the bill with all sorts of other Republican goodies from their various Wish Lists (like anti-abortion measures) while giving their billionaire cronies (and hey, corporations are people, too, remember?) all kinds of big cuts. Even King Donald stands to save millions a year, so yeah, what’s not to like…?

But wait! Lots and lots of Orthodox Republicans can’t stand the stench coming from all this hypocrisy and are, well, quitting politics. I guess “get out while the gettings good” is the new mantra on Capitol Hill this week, this, the one year anniversary of Trump’s ascendance to the throne. So, while Bob Mueller’s long-running RussiaGate Follies continues its limited engagement, we have Fox & Friends spelling out just why all this Russia bullshit is nothing compared to Hillary & Co and what THEY did with the Russians and all that Canadian uranium. Except, uh, wait a minute…no one over at Fox is getting the big picture, are they? Hillary may be rotten to the core, but it doesn’t appear like members of her campaign staff were over in Russia doing who knows what…like selling out the country…? Lining up a few golden showers for the boss, maybe…?

It’s amazing all the little things that get swept under the rug when you’re so busy with your broom you fail to notice you’ve stepped in your own bullshit.

All this makes me a little nostalgic for Nixon, Mitchell, Haldeman & Co., heretofore the most larcenous administration in our rosy history. At least Nixon and Kissinger got The One Truth of Our World: Russians are Trouble. Orthodox Republicans get this, they always have. It’s been political bedrock for them, until not quite two years ago, anyway. They understood the realities of our world better than their ideologically hidebound brethren, our new purveyors of cultural relativism, the Tea Party Republicans. They understood that when Putin ran Yeltsin & Co out of Moscow and filled the resulting vacuum with former KGB officers – who were by that time hip-deep in organized crime – that this was not a regime conducive to global prosperity. Putin & Co are NOW all about money and power, money and power to be used in the furtherance of the old Soviet worldview.

Our European allies in NATO and, in particular, Germany, get this. They understand that Prince Vlad exists only to suck the lifeblood out of western liberal democracies, so now, this week, Vlad and the Iranians talked about how best to work together to destroy America. Yup. And Hair Drumpf wants to get in bed with this guy.

And still, through it all, a rock solid 38-40 % of Americans support Trump. These people are variously described as poor white people – and modestly educated at that. Or, to put it more succinctly, stupid white cracker mother-fuckers…which, if you read between the lines is kind of the narrative coming out of the DNC.

Like…this is a real good way to win back the voters you lost last year.

Another good way is to have the former head of the DNC, one Donna Brazille, come out saying that, yeah, Hillary and the DNC coopted the primaries and did, in fact, coordinate their efforts to deny the nomination to one Bernie Sanders, Independent Socialist of Vermont.

The net effect? The “real” Democratic Party now pretty much belongs to Bernie and the Progressives, while Hillary is out hawking her book (about how everyone but her is responsible for 2016) and Democratic Elites are still out trying to sell diversity politics – in effect, still blaming white people.

And so, therefore, WHILE Republican efforts to claim the vote was rigged in 2016 gain traction, and so, therefore, it will be rigged again in 2020, and so, therefore, the only way to prevent this from happening is to, well, not hold the elections. Hey, sounds reasonable to me, right? I mean, this bullshit is on Fox, so it must be true, right? Right?

And so, therefore, the noise just keeps getting more confusing, doesn’t it?

Like Hitler was alive, seen by operatives the CIA deemed reliable, in 1955 (and a guy on Fox News claims he’s still alive, somehow forgetting Hitler would now be almost 130 years old). Or, that the FBI slipped a file into the JFK tranche indicating Martin Luther King Jr was a degenerate druggie into orgies. Makes you wonder…what would it be like to watch Fox for three weeks straight…? Well, read this. It’s almost funny.

I’ll conclude by saying “Hey! The revolution started, but somehow I missed it.”

As in, yeah, the alt-right was whipped up into a frenzy re: revolution was going to break out in America yesterday...

If you are inside the “alt-right” information bubble, you might be preparing yourself for a civil war to commence this Saturday.

Since late September, the idea has been circulating on Facebook groups, subreddit message boards, Twitter, and leading conspiracy media outlets that on 4 November, anti-fascist groups will begin a violent insurrection.

Some websites are telling their readers that antifa groups are “planning to kill every single Trump voter, Conservative and gun owner” this weekend. Hundreds of Facebook posts show how seriously consumers of such media are taking the news, and comments like “One more threat against white people and I swear to God I’m going to take a goddamn car and run over every fucking one of them” are not unrepresentative of the response.

But antifa groups have no plans to protest that day, and the small leftist groups who are planning protests have only dubious connections to the antifa movement. So what gives?

The whole thing rests on some very slender reeds, according to Spencer Sunshine, who recently wrote a report on the theories for the far right-monitoring group Political Research Associates. In the conspiracy underground on YouTube, he explains, there has been talk that “there was going to be a civil war” starting in November for some months.

Beginning in late September, three things kicked it a into higher gear. First, Refuse Fascism, a small group linked to the Revolutionary Communist party, staged a visually spectacular protest in Los Angeles. They blocked the 101 freeway and held up signs that enigmatically spelled out “Nov 4 it begins”. This is the same group that is organizing a series of protests around the country against the “Trump-Pence regime” this weekend.

Second, a video posted on a Facebook page called Vets Before Illegals went viral. The video, entitled “Antifa sets a date for civil war”, claimed that “on their website, they are calling for an open civil war that will start in November”, and set out alleged plans for attacking police officers, then citizens and the government.

Last, but by no means least, the rumor was picked up and amplified by Alex Jones, the radio star with an audience of millions. As Sunshine explains, Jones “is a kind of meta-conspiracy theorist now” who “harvests other people’s theories” and repackages them to fit his narratives and his audience.

Once Jones had mentioned it, Sunshine explains, the rumor mill exploded: “Once Jones says something, even more people pick up on it and put their own spin on it.” Jones’s website was still running the story on Wednesday morning.

In recent days, the story took an absurd turn, and had its closest brush with more mainstream conservative media, when Gateway Pundit, a longtime conservative blog that has recently expanded into news coverage, published a story by its White House correspondent, Lucian Wintrich, claiming that an “antifa leader” had promised to “behead white parents” on 4 November.

The tweet the story was based on, however, was a joke from an account that had no apparent ties to any antifa groups.

In a telephone interview, Wintrich conceded that the tweet his reporting was based on was not serious, and that it was unlikely that there would be a revolution on Saturday. But he did not back away from the story, presenting it as a critique of leftist rhetoric.

“The radical left is always making jokes about killing white people. What would happen if I made a joke about killing all black parents? That would be a national headline.

“If it’s appropriate for them to demonize [conservatives] over quite innocent jokes, why would we just roll over when they make inappropriate jokes? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

The piece included a detailed account of antifa ideology, which included the claim that the activists “are larpers (‘live action role-play’) attempting to find someone/thing to sexually interact with”.

When asked what sources he drew on in reporting on their ideology, Wintrich said: “I did go to school at Bard College. I received my education around people who I’m sure are on terrorist watchlists as socialist or communist extremists.”

As Sunshine says, Refuse Fascism activists have been supportive of antifa groups in the past, and often show up to the same demonstrations, but there is “no formal connection” between them and antifa. They are also small, he says, and their protest is explicitly nonviolent and specifically directed against the administration, not rightwing activists or police.

Mark Bray, historian and author of Antifa: The Antifascist Handbook, agrees. “Prior to 2017, the far right didn’t really know what antifa was,” he says, adding that the focus on these groups has a number of causes. It is an extension of the demonization of anarchists in general, but it is also a way to smear mainstream liberals who have no links to antifascist groups.

And to some extent, this particular panic has succeeded in energizing a particular slice of the right. As Sunshine puts it: “It motivates the base, it’s part of the apocalyptic narrative they use – there’s always a dangerous event just over the horizon.” Also, he says: “It’s a call for vigilante activity. There are currently tons of threats against leftwing activists.”

And unless there is a confrontation as a result of rightwing counter-protesters turning out to shut down the “revolution”, it’s all likely to come to nothing.

“There is no revolution or civil war planned for 4 November,” says Bray. “You can quote me on that.”

And, well, I’ll leave you to ponder the revolution, aka – the revenge of the nerds, part 23. Be safe out there…

Red Dawn

Happy trails, y’all. Keep an eye out for Bill, would you?

 

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