Tuesday, June 2, 2020

America: The Broken, 2020 Edition

Who could have predicted, except for hundreds and thousands of commentators, many of them women and/or POC.

Here's me, writing 3 years ago, at Shakesville, for instance:
"Donald Trump is the inevitable Republican politician for a rotten-to-the-core Republican Party that has condoned the use of any means necessary to win. To enact their regressive, cruel agenda, they have enabled a man to become President who is not only temperamentally-unsuited and unqualified for the office he holds, but whose very presence there is a daily, stark reminder of their contempt for both democracy and the people of this nation.

America: we are broken."
The George B. Bush years were bad. Very bad. The Trump years are exponentially worse.

If you'd have asked me the day after the 2016 election if in a few years it would feel like we would be living through some of the worst moments of the 1930s, 40s, and 60s, but also with Twitter, Facebook, a pandemic, and a fascist president who was brought to us by the reality TV-ification of US politics, I'd say, "Yep, Sure. Sounds about right."

Every time I think we've hit rock bottom, things somehow get worse.

And, if anything, the COVID pandemic should be telling everyone in the US, even the most privileged, how drastically our lives can change, pretty much overnight, and not in a good way. I think many white people mean well when they post the memes about their #whiteprivilege and how "safe" they are relative to Black people, and that is true to an extent, but white people also would do well to stop acting like they/we are entirely objective observers of history, rather than people who can also be killed, uprooted, and oppressed by the Trump regime. Especially now.

I wish I could find it now, but when I was perusing the Twitter recently, someone noted that one of the condescending errors of the post-2016-election "safety pin" thing, where white people would wear safety pins to surreptitiously signal to people of color that they/we are "allies," was the simple-minded assumption that we would be entirely untouched, ourselves, by the horrors of the Trump regime. 

I also understand that people need hope, and I refuse to give up hope. Still.

But, a lot of people seem to think that the current protests around the country mean we're on the cusp of the leftist, socialist, utopian revolution, rather than on the cusp of a violent, authoritarian dictatorship fully backed by one of our two major political parties, roughly half of US voters, about 2/3rds branches of the US government, and a federal military force commanded by the political right.

The 2016 election was, perhaps even more than 2000, the most pivotal election of most of our lifetimes, and what's done is done.

The US government has never acted with the consent of the majority of those within its borders. The majority of voters, by millions, can and did reject a man like Trump and that still, still was not enough to keep him from power. 

The protests we are seeing from city to city in response to the police killing of George Floyd are, first and foremost the result of police violence inflicted upon Black people, and more generally seem to be a release valve for the unrest that results from the reality that the United States was designed to be an unjust, oppressive state that privileges the rights, safety, and well-being of a subset of citizens, and that this fact has been self-evident to millions of oppressed people throughout the history of this nation despite mass efforts to gaslight us into thinking otherwise.

Many people now seem to be making catastrophic miscalculations about the current state of affairs, miscalculations akin to the wishful thinking that Comey or Mueller or Fauci or whoever-the-fuck-white-male-savior would somehow swoop in and save us from the madman.

Please stay safe friends and longtime readers, however you can. I know that's not super useful advice, but the only advice I can muster now is that the time for thinking about politics in soundbite is over so try not to let the memes be your guide.

Oh, and happy fuckin' pride month.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Femslash ___Day: VillanEve

What day is it? What time is it? What along decade it's been, huh?

I recently realized, only half-jokingly, that I measure time now by when it's time to watch Killing Eve again, and then I realized it's been fully 10 million years since we've had a Femslash Friday in Fannie's Room.

So, why not bring it back pandemic-time's sake?

I can't explain why I like Killing Eve so much, as it's a show I would be extremely not into if either of the two main characters were men.

I just started Season 3. So, I will need to digest the series more before I have anything more intelligent to say than the obvious fact that I, uh, appreciate the Sapphic subtext. And, maybe I will find time to write longform again when we're not in the middle of a fucking pandemic.

On that note, smell you later, and enjoy today's Villanelle/Eve fan vid.

In other news, I love how the Navy has basically confirmed the existence of UFOs and things are so awful right now that nobody even really cares.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Kyrie

Many years ago in college I read Ellen Bryant Voigt's book of poems, Kyrie, which is set during the influenza pandemic of 1918. I've thought of it on and off since then, particularly during the swine flu pandemic of 2009 and, of course, now during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I found my copy of the book in my bookshelves the other day and read through it again. Each poem is written from the perspective of different, recurring people, dealing with the pandemic and/or World War I, in their own ways. The title, Kyrie ("Lord, have mercy") is referenced throughout, with poems alluding to the various characters' feelings of abandonment by their God, (naive?) optimism in the beginning ("Surely He shall deliver us from the snare"), and eventual hopelessness ("Oh yes I used to pray").

Another recurring theme is that of animals, both their ability to sense when something is off and the inescapable fact that humans are embodied animals and a part of nature, ourselves, despite our modern amenities.

In an early poem, foreshadowing the pandemic, she writes:

"Dogs, all kind of dogs - signals
are their job, they cock their heads,
their backs bristle, even house dogs
wake up and circle the wool rug
Outside, the vacant yard: then,
within minutes something eats the sun."

Life is inescapably different, and dark.

In another, she writes:

"Before the weather goes, you slaughter hogs
unless you want to find them on their sides, 
rheumy eyes, running snout.

It's simple enough arithmetic, 
so don't you think the Kaiser knew?
Get one hog sick, you get them all."

Looking at our present situation, a pandemic would be frightening even if we had trustworthy, competent, mature leadership at the federal level.

What is more clear than ever is that the 2016 election was a catastrophic failure in the history of our nation, as what is making this pandemic exponentially worse for the USA is that Donald Trump is in charge of the federal government.

I don't think he cares about Americans (or anyone) dying, and in fact he probably wants us to if we are Democrats, living in major (Democratic-voting) cities, and/or live in states with Democratic governors.

I think he's a sociopathic narcissist who only cares about the economy, rather than human beings, recovering. (Likewise, I think many of the journalists who covered Trump in 2016, and who continue to do so, are also sociopathic narcissists who are still somewhat entertained by Trump and everything that is happening right now, and that anyone lauding Trump's "change in tone as of late" should be deeply ashamed and resign immediately for incompetence.)

I think Trump will try to use the pandemic as an excuse to try cancel, delay, and/or rig the 2020 election, or to severely suppress turnout.

I think we have to rely more than ever on state, local, and private efforts for relief.

Officials are saying we have a very rough week or weeks ahead of us. I know a lot of people are having a hard time, for all kinds of reasons. So, mostly, I just wanted to drop a note to say hi and give people space to vent, be mad, be sad, be scared, whatever.

But I also want to say this: Rudy Giuliani is a creepy-ass dillrod who looks/acts like one of the Gentlemen from the episode "Hush" of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Thoughts on Social Isolation and 2020

Whew!

The past month or so has been a lot, yeah?  It appears that Joe Biden is on track to the Democratic nominee for president. And, fine. Whatever. He wasn't my top choice at all, but the COVID-19 pandemic, and Trump's massive failures around managing it, is one of many issues that highlights the urgency of defeating Trump in 2020.

It's a low bar, but Biden would be exponentially better than Trump. And, if Bernie Sanders were to pull off a surprise win, he would be as well. Whoever the nominee is just needs to be smart enough to name a progressive woman as vice president.

Anyway, it appears many of us will be stuck indoors, at home, isolating ourselves from others during this pandemic. Also, shoutout to those providing essential services right now who cannot do so, including health workers, firefighters, caregivers, law enforcement, delivery people, and more.

During this time, I've been thinking of doing a Xena rewatch (and possibly recaps, but not sure what I will have time for, given my other responsibilities).

Anyway, I mostly just wanted to check in. Please stay safe and healthy (and at home, if you are able!). How are others occupying themselves during this time?




Tuesday, February 18, 2020

William H. Harrison's Ball

In my ongoing quest to read a biography or memoir of every US president, I have finally arrived at William Henry Harrison, whose tenure lasted just 31 days before he became the first president to die in office.

As with previous presidential biographies, the Harrison biography I read, Gail Collins' slender William Henry Harrison, serves as a reminder that, as much as early era of our nation is romanticized in some circles, the early political system was not super democratic. Nominating conventions were run by party elites who handpicked candidates, and even in 1840 only certain classes of white men could vote, with some variation in specific eligibility rules by state.

But, similar to now, presidential campaigns built mythological narratives around their candidate, such as the notion that Harrison was a simple "Log Cabin" sort of guy even though the reality is that he was raised on a plantation and was the relative of a Founding Father.

And also, at times, campaigning could get really fucking weird:
"The average American voter in this new era [of Jacksonian political campaigning] lived on a farm, where he and his family worked incessantly, spending their nights in small, dimly lit houses in relative silence. There were no sports and few public entertainments. So the chance to sing, parade, or lift a flagpole for a presidential candidate was a marvelous diversion. People would turn out for almost anything that offered a break from their usual routing, even if was just to cheer the arrival of an oversized ball being rolled from town to town in honor of their party's nominee. (The balls were generally made of paper and covered with political slogans. The Whigs in Cleveland constructed one of tin, twelve feet wide, and pushed it all the way to Columbus in Harrison's honor....)."
What.