It’s curious that what really set off the mainstream news media about Donald Trump, what caused them to grow a backbone, stand the hell up, and utter the unutterable on air, was a contemptuous, modestly foulmouthed tirade about a number of dysfunctional foreign countries and the denigration of their citizens by association with them. I don’t know what all to read into this fight. It’s certainly being fought by people who are neither principled nor thoughtful, on both sides (many sides!), but it’s in the nature of chronic exposure to offensive, oppressive, or just unpleasant behavior that the last straw isn’t necessarily the most egregious incident in the pattern. This thing is a standoff, and standoffs do not unfold rationally or predictably. They’re dynamic. They hit unexpected flashpoints out of the blue.
Did the outraged journalists who are so upset by Trump’s crude language about foreigners get into their particular extreme outrage over his rude comments about foreigners and their home countries because they value foreign countries and the interests of their citizens above the United States and the interests of Americans? That’s probably part of it on some vague level, but they’ve also gotten worked into a special lather about Donald Trump’s nativist sentiments specifically. They were much more circumspect when Barack Obama mercilessly deported millions of illegal aliens and aerially immolated foreigners and Americans alike in gross military violations of other nations’ sovereignty, on the basis that the targets of these assassinations were outlaws. Explicit nativism has been coded as downmarket for decades, long before Trump became its poster boy, and now that he’s in high office, over the strenuous sworn wishes of a bipartisan incumbent political establishment, he makes an excellent scapegoat for anyone who wants to smear all nativism, nationalism, and parochial concern for the welfare of America or Americans as the most unspeakable vulgarity.
Trump’s shithole comments, although not really egregious by his own prevailing standards, were gross and vapid, evidence of a very real meanness of spirit and crudity of mind. The loudest parties calling him out for speaking so crudely have awfully little moral credibility themselves, but as I’ve discussed before, he ultimately serves at the pleasure of Congress, because Congress ultimately determines what is and is not impeachable. They may be shitty assholes in their own right, but if the sense of their meeting is that he is terminally out of line to speak in that fashion in his official capacity, they can put his impertinent ass out on the curb with last week’s trash. The Constitution does not dictate that the President has the inalienable right to offend and alarm members of Congress with absolute impunity by indulging in gratuitously vicious insults at will in a manner that calls into question his moral and mental fitness for office. The 25th Amendment is ultimately a redundancy. A critical mass of the legislature can decide that even if the president isn’t blatantly senile, his language sounds close enough to senile disinhibition and is enough of a national embarrassment and obstruction to good governance to justify his removal from office.
For similar reasons Congress has the prerogative to remove Trump from office for being a Nazi sympathizer. There is ample, although mostly circumstantial, evidence that he sides with Nazis and fellow-traveling white supremacist thugs when they engage in violent domestic insurrections resulting in injury and death. Congress does not have a duty to tolerate a president who sympathizes with perpetrators of organized communal violence. This is an example of the political and civic dysfunction that has enabled Donald Trump and his allies in their worst behavior and allowed them, surreally, to claim the moral high ground. There’s no credible principle under which it’s completely beyond the pale to denigrate other countries and encourage restrictions on the immigration of their citizens to the United States but basically acceptable, if one can withstand a weekend tongue-lashing, to use the bully pulpit to cover for violent domestic insurrectionists who are trying to start a race war. This kind of shit is hits the international wire services as a pretty big scandal when it happens in India because it is, in fact, a big deal. Our legislators have no duty to allow colleagues or executives whose removal they are constitutionally allowed to seek to flippantly court similar bloodshed in the United States. They don’t need to tolerate Klan revanchism.
They do tolerate it because they secretly, or not so secretly, sympathize with it. There are a whole lot of neo-eugenicist Randian creeps slithering around in Congress and our statehouses, mainly in the GOP, who support violent white supremacy and the top-down class warfare that traditionally goes with it. They dare not say so because it would be scandalous and they’d soon lose their offices one way or another, but implicit support for heinous, bigoted policies rarely costs them anything. On the bright side, it did help Gadsden Lovin’ barely lose his bid for the US Senate, but that was at a time when he’d just been exposed as a mall-cruising sex pest.
We could do to be hesitant in our campaigns to fix other countries when our own is such a fucking disaster. The rot goes much deeper and wider than projectile sexual repression, even if we have a special national tradition of sexual hypocrisy corrupting the law. It’s popular on the woke left to complain that the term “Third World” has a seedy history as a construct of the intelligence services and is an insult to beleaguered poor countries in the Global South. It’s certainly used as a slur in some quarters, but so are many other terms, many of them much nastier. “Third World” and “First World” are odd artifacts of the Cold War, especially in the absence of “Second World” from the popular lexicon. That was the classification of Commieworld: Red China, Red Russia, superficially red Poland, etc., but nobody today seems to have a clue what it means or that it even exists. In popular usage, First and Third World have been adopted as shorthand terms for socioeconomic and human development levels at the extremes.
This is awfully Wow Very Explain, but it’s pertinent. The idea is that we, the First World, have our shit together and they, the Third World, are the shitholes. It’s a crude classification that paints over a lot of nuances, but unlike so many political terms, the meanings are universally understood. These terms are not at all like “conservative” or “liberal,” whose meanings have been bastardized to impenetrable hell. Everyone knows what they mean.
The moral posturing over this shit is as inevitable as it is insufferable, but it’s worth climbing above the fray and thinking about what it takes for a society to move from the Third World into the First or, tragically, from the First into the Third. It’s perfectly manageable to recognize that Nigeria is a third-world country with serious enduring problems of governance and human development while also recognizing that it’s been the scene of chronic colonial pillaging followed by decades of post-colonial official corruption at the hands of its native elites. This is a shitty situation for any country to face and a tall order for civil society organizations and political newcomers to reform, and Nigerian reformers complain bitterly about it.
It’s sensible, then, to cut a society some extra slack on moral judgment if its recent history revolves around some combination of civil war, foreign military invasion, coups d’état, colonial expropriation, genocide, pervasive official corruption, and collapse of national sovereignty into a failed state. These are terrible conditions, and the responsible parties absolutely should be held to account for them, but they’re mostly beyond the capacity of private citizens to prevent, and the recovery afterwards can be slow and difficult. Ordinary Somali fishermen weren’t pleased with their government for deteriorating to the point that it stopped deploying a coast guard. They weren’t thinking, oh, cool, this means that we can go launch high-risk pirate raids on Western ships whose crews will try either to kill us or have us extradited for trial in countries we’ve never visited instead of fishing for a living. Sure, Somalia has become prime territory for gang thugs and religiously preoccupied tyrants, some real bad dudes, but it’s funny that the piracy got going in earnest after the government collapsed, sovereignty over Somalia fractured into an incoherent mess of warring military commands, and Western trawlers strip-mined the entire offshore water column in the midst of the chaos on shore.
It says something else entirely when a prosperous, well-governed beacon of the First World descends into gathering third-world squalor and misgovernment because its politics have fallen into the vise grip of decadent narcissists. That’s what we have in the United States. We haven’t failed to climb out of national poverty and dysfunction; we’ve deliberately squandered an inherited regime of exceptional prosperity, good government, and equity in pursuit of the most vicious, destructive forms of unfair personal and factional advantage over others. This is one of the most damning things any society has ever done to itself.
For two generations or so, we achieved a series of belated, incremental reforms: Social Security, Medicare, the Depression-era employment programs, Eisenhower’s genuinely conservative stewardship of what his predecessors had won at such great effort and under such harrowing circumstances, the Civil Rights Act, the Great Society, the Church Commission. Then, after the well-meaning ineptitude of the Carter Administration, greatly exaggerated by a shrill opposition, we elected a reactionary TV blowhard to spend eight years throwing it all into the dumpster while we pretended that he wasn’t sundowning on live TV. But Goodnight Simi Valley was just one of the more prominent public faces of the problem. Reaganism enjoyed significant popular support from what was increasingly turning into a nation of sellouts. Not seeing any threats from this irresponsibility on the horizon, we spent most of the subsequent three decades, up to the present day, slouching into a progressive dereliction of responsibility. At one point, Social Security was saved by Monica Lewinsky, the Forrest Gump of starfucking sluts. The angel with the blue dress, blue dress on did not, unfortunately, save Glass-Steagall, and we still haven’t entirely recovered from the delayed-action destruction that her boy Slick Willie’s deal with the banks caused not just the national but the international economy starting in 2007-08.
We now have, not for the first time, a comprehensively corrupt national leadership. Bernie Sanders, one of the few more or less clean politicians to run for the presidency, got ratfucked in his own party primary at the direction of the Clinton machine, which was as insatiable as ever at the prospect of foreign bribes to its “charitable” foundations. The Trump organization strives for even less plausible deniability about why federal agencies and various parties with business before the federal government pay so much rent to its chain of very expensive hotels, resorts, and apartment towers. Bizarrely, from some angles Trump seems to anger the incumbent government grafter set precisely because he is NOT as corruptible as themselves, i.e., by possibly following through on the blustery campaign promises he made to dispossessed blue-collar constituencies.
We got here because our national character went to hell. That much was our doing. We put crooks into Congress and the White House for decades. A critical mass of the public, including more than its share of reliable voters, sold out to be yuppies, social consequences be damned. Christopher Lasch sounded a bit shrill and catastrophic at the time, but he was right about the elites going into a state of revolt against their host society. It is absolutely true that they, as a group, moved to rob and dispossess everyone more vulnerable than themselves, and to justify these depredations.
One of the scary things I’ve noticed is that the upper middle class and above have been able to so shelter themselves that they are able to secede from the national reality that the rest of their society is forced to live on a daily basis. All they have to do is listen to mainstream, politically correct sources that happen to be crooked and full of shit and shut out any dissenting voices that show up in their social media feeds. This helps explain a number of people who have defriended me on Facebook. There are certain cases in which I know full well that I got shut out for being an ass for no good reason, but in a number of others it’s uncanny that I got blocked by people whose precious personal brands of earnest striving and self-censorship were inherently incompatible with my insistence on not polishing turds for free on a platform that is mine and mine alone to control.
The implications of this ability to selectively silence dissenting voices on a platform that is expressly designed to maintain indiscriminately broad social ties are fucking scary. I try not to dwell on this situation, but it’s potentially dire. It’s already drawing people with some of the highest formal educational attainment in the country into a state of mind that is functionally psychotic. I’m not kidding or being figurative. Hanging out at a bus stop in Inglewood all afternoon and speculating that the planes overhead may be headed for a different universe than LAX is much, much more deranged and dangerous than erroneously believing that one’s country does not have problems with unemployment or poverty. Nobody gets hurt when another A340 plunges into the wormhole of some al fresco nutjob’s febrile mind; that joystick-controlled Eurotrash ship still lands, and homeboy goes down separately, without it. If drug addiction is assumed to be the only reason why anyone in the United States has trouble finding housing or work, that’s a serious fucking failure of engagement with reality that will almost certainly have degrading social effects. When that sort of scurrilous horseshit is believed by voters who can’t imagine that anyone at their investment bank has a problem with alcohol or cocaine, the very worldview that drives these winners is a dangerous full frontal attack on equity and the rule of law.
The problem isn’t that we have crazy people on the loose; it’s that we’re governed by people who are batshit insane and protected by overpowering social conventions under the auspices of powerful siloing technology from all criticism. The Insurance Schmuck’s ex-fiancée, for example, has clearly gone off the deep end in bougie crazytown since she moved to San Diego. I wasn’t nearly so naïve to fly out there in a madcap effort to join the police force. It’s inconceivable that this chick has any fucking idea how socioeconomically mainstream people five miles away from her neighborhood live, let alone the teeming horde of godforsaken homeless downtown. She’s too busy posting Instagram photos of her waterfront yoga routines in Pacific Beach (shit, Brando, you’re losing the girth war) and New Year’s Eve poolside with her current boyfriend in Cabo.
I’m braced for this chick to go full fash. That she hasn’t overtly done so is probably a function of cues she’s picked up that MAGA agitation is downscale. She obviously assumes that she’s safe from whatever horrors the bad parts of our government are scheming to inflict on their constituents because she’s a cute, peppy blonde from a nice family in CB East and Kwesi Millington for Sheriff. Put Robinson in a shabbier red top and a Jeep, and see if he survives a watch on beach patrol. Seriously, this chick is headed for overt hardcore reaction with a side of Paltrowan gobbledygook, but hey, Hitler, her fellow dog fancier, was into the health foods, too. #MeatlessMuscle.
Homeskillet could have been formed into a political worldview magnanimous enough not to make me wonder who will be up to launch the foreign military invasion once we go into irreversible authoritarian overdrive, but the Insurance Schmuck’s politics were only marginally less dangerous than her own, and even though he liked to be a domineering alpha asshole in his relationships, especially back then, this forcefulness rarely extended to checking a peppy rich girl’s privilege. He thought that kind of thing was cute and arousing. As I said, these people are goddamn dangerous.
Actually, on second thought, she probably didn’t vote for Trump because she has a Facebook cover photo of that fucking little girl statue in front of the Wall Street bull. She’s into feminist fascism, you see. I’m sure she could lead me into an unfathomable world of hypocritical incoherence, a new frontier of Lean In girl power, fainting submission to the nearest preppy hunk with enough cash or credit to wine and dine m’lady in proper Baja style, and structural Betty Shelby.
This chick’s worldview somehow bothers me more than Melissa Ann Shepard. Now that’s some toxic femininity. But Sweet Melissa of the Maritimes never killed a man without courting him first. All a fellow has to do to survive her is to dump out the fucking coffee and/or flag down a Halifax policewoman because she’s back on her internet bullshit again. Yeah, there’s the serial fraud thing, but there are insurance policies against some QEII-looking creepy bitch draining one’s bank account dry. Not the only thing she drained dry, AM I RIGHT, GENTLEMEN. There aren’t insurance policies against the engagement of Fifty Shades-vulnerable dipshit daddy’s girls showing up to vote their fellow citizens into abject penury or indulge in paranoid delusions about the local color on Nextdoor. That much takes a degree of civic vigilance whose energy requirements far exceed anything I’ve expended on canucksploitative shitposting. God help us, but Monty the Mountie’s Motorcar is the least of our worries. Saucin’ in Tsawwassen was never why I ended up sleeping in my car on a regular basis. I can’t say that about some of the people I knew in school.