So far, this has been a winter without winter where we live. I'm writing at around 2 am on what should be a cold winter's night, but the outside temp is nearly 40, and there's been some rain. Rain. In late December, early January. In Central New Mexico, rather high in the mountains. While it's not unheard of -- little is -- it's not at all normal.
2016 was like that. Different yet much the same, and not at all normal.
In January, I started having severe symptoms of what turned out to be rheumatioid arthritis. Diagnosis was complicated by the onset of pneumonia. Looking back, I realize what a mess I must have been. I didn't know it at the time, but that's kind of how it goes. When I'm ill, I rarely realize how bad it is -- or if it is bad at all -- and as a rule I wait too long for treatment. In this case, the situation was complicated by multiple conditions needing treatment and by my own cussedness and contrariness.
I think all of that has influenced the way I look at what else happened last year.
"Ché What You Call Your Pasa" started as a political commentary blog back in 2007, and that's what it primarily still is though now mixed quite a bit with personal recollections, ancestry research, nostalgia, local interests, and my obsession with houses. Still the political nonsense of Our Betters and the resistance to their machinations provide the scaffold on which hang whatever insight I may have about what''s going on in the USofA and the world.
What a mess indeed.
Throughout the past many years, I've been highly critical of the policies of the White House occupants and the carefully engineered Congressional majority. I've run the electoral process in this country through multiple wringers. The courts have been subject to intense criticism, particularly the utter lawlessness that seems to have infected the judiciary at every level.
I've been a critic of much of the standard internet criticism of the Way Things Are and How Bad Our Rulers Are. This has been going on since before there was an internet, in much the same way, with the same concepts and criticisms repeated ad nauseum, and nothing (much) gets better. We are always just "starting" to see or believe something that is generally self-evident; the Empire is always on the verge of collapse; blamecasting and scapegoating for failures is a constant; but failures themselves are only steps on the way to ultimate victory. More than anything, the Democrat (sic) Party must be destroyed; the Republicans are generally blameless because they (at least) "tell the truth;" liberty means private sector or even individual ability to impose authority without government interference.
On the internet it's taken as axiomatic that the Clintons ("Clintoons!!") are the source of all corruption and evil.
The Democrats in Congress are worthless.
The media is little more than propaganda for one side or the other.
There aren't really two "sides" anyway. There's only one side with two faces.
Obama is a buffoon. So was Bush. So was Clinton.
In fact no White House occupant since FDR, and maybe not since Lincoln or Washington, has been worthy of the office.
The voters are ill-equipped to make a rational choice for President, thus the mess we're in.
While some of this is rhetoric and cant, some is true enough. The problem is that nothing (much) changes for the better. It just keeps getting worse, no matter what.
Underlying it is the wish for a Savior to fix things once and for all. With the (apparent) election of Trump, much as was the case with the election of Obama, at least some Americans feel the Savior has Come.
Of course, I reject the very idea. Presidents have a particular role to play in the Pageant, but Savior is not one of them -- except among true believers whose touching faith is at the root of both major party's base.
So we've gone through a year of chaos, contradiction, bizarre obsessions, denial, and political theater such as has not been seen in this way previously. Much of the internet seems to feel vindicated by the (apparent) election of Trump. If he's not their Savior, he is what they have been waiting for -- for good and ill.
This belief seems to afflict both the "left" and the right as well as much of the libertarian cohort. They look to Trump to undo what's wrong and restore what's right, and in the end, to rule as a (somewhat) benign dictator/entertainer -- which is all they've ever wanted in the first place.
There is no doubt in my mind that the political system is rotten to the core, and to my way of looking at it, the problems are inherent in the system. It cannot be reformed. No dictator, benign or otherwise, will "fix" anything because they benefit from what's wrong. In fact, so long as the entire institutional establishment benefits from what's wrong or can be made to benefit them, nothing (much) will change for the better. Our system of politics and rule is set up to be that way. It cannot be changed from the inside, and the influence of the Outside (us, the Rabble) on events is slight or none.
The electoral pageant of 2016 had many elements of unreality. The candidates all around were generally execrable with the exception of Sanders whose candidacy was almost too rational for his own good, certainly for the times. Apart from being an old man railing against old problems and offering old solutions (my god, is there nothing new to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow? Nothing?) he was arguing, arguing, arguing, all the time, as if by rational argument alone the intractable problems of our times can be/will be corrected.
No. It doesn't work that way.
I think he knew that, but he was out there making a case that needed to be made-- no one else in the political hierarchy would dare to make it -- and let the chips fall where they may.
Eyes would be opened. The Butterfly Effect would be initiated and things would work out eventually.
Mrs. Clinton conducted what looked to me to be a very odd campaign, one that was nearly secret because so much of it was conducted behind closed doors at high dollar fundraisers. Her absence from public view appeared to be strategic. Since everyone already knew everything about her, there was thought to be no need to show her to the public any more. All that was necessary was to defeat her rivals, which-- according to elite theory -- ought to have been a simple enough thing to do.
A clown on the one hand, vs a radical Socialist on the other. Piece of cake.
But it wasn't. Bernie got very close to defeating her in the primaries, and according to some opinion, his defeat was engineered by the Party hierarchy. In other words, had it not been for electoral fraud on a massive scale, Bernie would have won the Democratic Party nomination. Maybe. Maybe not.
Funny thing about our elections: we can't ever know whether those accusations are true or not. Our elections are riddled with faults, opacity, voter suppression, and opportunities for fraud (ie: fixing the tally to fit a pre-determined outcome). Our system is an anachronistic, opportunistic embarrassment and it should have been scrapped long ago. But certain interests benefit from the way things are, and nothing will change for the better so long as that is true.
Herself seemed stunned that it was so difficult to reach the goal she sought. It was incomprehensible to her that there was so much genuine opposition to her ascension; the opposition could only be the result of historic anti-Clinton propaganda and the inherent deplorability of the voters who opposed her.
All her campaign thought they had to do was make mock of and denounce her chief rival, the Evil Clown, and she'd be home free. It was a campaign run like the front page of Daily Kos, and in the end it resulted in self immolation.
The opposition to her ascension, however, was more than matched by the opposition to the ascension of her chief rival, the Trump the Evil Clown. Ultimately, the opposition to him was even greater than the opposition to her, but the quirks of our anachronistic system once again allowed the loser to be declared the winner, and here we go.
Once again: the second time in 16 years that the Electoral College has elevated the popular vote loser to the presidency, once again defying the will of the people (well, at least those of the People willing and able to cast a vote) to install the Other Guy in the White House. This time it didn't require a Supreme Court intervention to reach that point, but courts did intervene, repeatedly, to stall or stop recounts of votes in crucial states. Courts ruled to protect the announced outcome, regardless of what really happened.
We don't -- and can't -- know whether the outcome was jiggered, nor can we know to what extent it was or is possible to jigger election outcomes.
Based on the shocked reaction to the outcome by all and sundry -- including the ostensible "winner" -- the outcome defied expectations. Either the election wasn't seriously compromised and it more or less accurately reflected the will of the voters, or it was heavily jiggered in the states that mattered and there was and is no way to be sure about it one way or another. Either scenario results in the same shock.
Ever since November 8, we've been in a situation where one faction of the Overclass is trying to figure out how to get out of this mess while another faction is trying to consolidate its power in the face of the Twitter troll in chief's chaotic hoo-hah.
In other words, things are flying apart, and it's only by chance that they seem to be holding together.
We're still on the edge of the precipice (another internet trope, btw). I would put it this way: it's another precipice. We've already fallen far. Crashed and burned. The survivors are now facing another drop.
Under the circumstances we really don't have a future to look forward to. The end is not so much nigh as it has long since come.
We're sorting through the debris, that's all.
Compared to the hell so many people around the world have been going through, our situation is mild. That may change at any time, but for now, even the worst of what's been happening domestically -- and much of it is terrible -- is nowhere near the catastrophic levels of pain, death and destruction faced by whole populations abroad. Need we mention the ongoing horrors in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Ukraine and on and on? We have had it lucky compared to so many others.
The contradiction between what those outside our borders go through and what Americans go through -- and complain mightily about -- is stark. We should acknowledge that but we don't.
The notion that somehow putting a made-man "billionaire" in the White House will tame or end corruption is absurd. But it's passionately believed by those afflicted with Savior-itis.
The idea that somehow wars will end because Trump wants "peace" borders on insanity. But it's believed passionately by those afflicted with Savior-itis.
One of the most persistent arguments in favor of Trump's ascension is that regardless of what happens domestically ("who cares, really?") his foreign policies will more than make up for any domestic deterioration. More than make up for it. Never mind no one knows what those foreign policies are. One can dream, can't one?
The idea is that since he won't start "Clinton's War" with Russia, it's all good. Nothing else matters at all. Of course, I've argued that Clinton wouldn't have started any such war, either. What she was doing was ham-handed and stupid, but it would not have led to a first strike against Russia. Period.
Trump on the other hand seems intent on fomenting conflict -- nuclear or otherwise -- with China, Iran, "ISIS" and others, and for some reason that's ok with his loyalists and defenders. Kill them all. "They're not like us."
Of course I recognize and point out the inherent and historic racism in this point of view. "They're not like us" is the key to understanding. One commenter posted about how the Chinese and Vietnamese and others of that ilk raise, kill and eat dogs, the implication being that for that alone they deserve to be exterminated. I'd say they beg to disagree.
Other excuses for mass extermination of the Other include the fact that they breed too much ("Look at Africa for god's sake!") and they don't obey their Betters.
Whatever the case, there are just too many of them and if they won't go quietly into the void, they must be pushed -- for the benefit of all of us.
Don't you see?
Getting rid of them will make our lives better somehow.
This is one of the basic tenets of White Supremacy, and during the Euro-American colonial/imperial period, getting rid of them was policy. Precipitating population control of the other by famine, war and other means (spreading diseases, for example) was routinely employed as a means of keeping their numbers in check. My Irish ancestors had plenty of experience with the tactic as it was constantly being employed by the British against them.
Of course it was policy in the United States against the Indians as well.
So will we see a return to it? I don't know, but all the mechanisms exist to do so, and White Supremacy has once again come to the fore. It's the unmentioned key to understanding the rise of the right in North America and Northern Europe.
They want their countries back.
And to the extent they can, they will get their countries back.
The rest of us had better hunker down.
During the year just past I quoted Robert Graves, "Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out."
That's certainly what's happening. Our supposed enemies seem quite content to let it be.
It makes the contradictions between the away we see ourselves and want to be and the way our rulers see us and their own future even starker.
I say the situation is unstable, inherently chaotic, and it will not end well.
But then we've been on this path for so long perhaps it's too late to change it.
Read Mao On Contradiction. See if he wasn't on to something, and see if centers of rivalry -- whether domestically or internationally -- haven't figured it out.
Happy(?) New Year.