Parts of California are burning. October and November are fire season in the Golden State, but what has happened in the Napa area boggles the imagination -- some neighborhoods look like they were bombed by an invading army. Houses reduced to smoldering ash, cars torched, as if Mother Earth pitched a temper tantrum and decided to retaliate for how shabbily we have treated her. Climate scientists have been warning for years that one potential result of human-caused climate change will be fiercer storms, floods, and wildfires. Houston, Puerto Rico, Napa. Get the idea now?
I have Trump fatigue. How about you?
The Orange Buffoon embodies the most reprehensible and vile aspects of the American character: ignorance, bombast, greed, cruelty, racism, arrogance, and violence. In less than a year, Trump has turned the White House into a risible shitshow. His approval rating is in the low 30’s and will not climb any higher unless he launches war against North Korea or Iran, in which case the political class and corporate media will grovel at his feet and a majority of Americans will rally around him as if he were the reincarnation of George Washington. All occupants of the Oval Office understand this reliable escape route from tanking poll numbers or domestic scandal.
Neal Gabler wrote a piece for the Bill Moyers website recently that put forth the idea that we are viewing Trump and his entourage of miscreants through the wrong lens. We can’t, Gabler wrote, view Trump through the standard political lens but must view him through the lens of entertainment, of ratings and clicks and social media traffic, the same lens through which we see Kim Kardashian. Trump, with his incessant demand for attention and adulation, is flipping the usual script, replacing politics with entertainment, and as long as people keep tuning in, he will keep attacking African-American athletes, US senators, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, the people of Puerto Rico, his own Secretary of State, and the corporate media; he will constantly up the ante and create false drama with arch comments like, “You’ll see.” An approval rating in the low 30’s matters little when you can still command all the media attention, and when that attention is all you care about. Gabler’s hypothesis is intriguing and might be the only way to understand the disaster that is Donald Trump.
While Trump preens, postures, lies, attacks, threatens, and makes an ass of himself, the kleptocrats around him are doing serious damage to the nation, making every economic, social and environmental problem worse by dint of their greed and incompetence. The Trump Administration’s response to the devastation of Puerto Rico is criminal, but no matter how many Puerto Ricans suffer or perish, you can bet that no one will be held accountable. That is, unfortunately in this awful year of our lord 2017, how our system works -- the political and economic elites, the wealthy, play by a completely different set of rules. Like white police officers who gun down unarmed black men, there is never a penalty to pay.
When our country is this jacked up and corrupt, nobody is obligated to stand for the national anthem, salute the flag, or recite the pledge of allegiance. No matter what Trump and Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions say, dissent is never unpatriotic. Dissent is the essence of patriotism. If we don’t demand an end to predatory capitalism, rigged elections, shitty medical care, endless wars, racism, gun violence, jingoism, and ecocide, nothing will change. Kneel, sit, bow your head, turn your back, raise a clenched fist, be an American, stand for something and demand better before it’s too late.