Tuesday, February 14, 2017

End of the Beginning?

Of course it's hard to know at any given time what's coming. One can read their beads and assess the signs and portents all the live long day and then something unexpected happens. You're in a different reality, one that perhaps was always there, the way multiple universes are said to interpenetrate one another, but it wasn't something we had to pay attention to. Until now.

The reaction to Stephen Miller's round of performances on the Sunday Gabfests has been rippling through the political class, the media, the permanent government and among some of the Rabble. With few exceptions, the judgment is that he was way, way over the line. And something must be done, and done quickly.

Miller took the place of Kellyanne Conway on the shows -- apparently because her credibility was in the crapper and since she'd been working so hard at it, she needed a break. We'd been hearing about Miller for some time, as he is reputed to have written some of the more incendiary statements and speeches of the regime and its titular ruler. He along with Bannon have long been considered the ideological masters in the White House. Miller, it is said, was one of the writers of the Muslim Ban (that isn't) now wending its way through the judiciary.

So the White House sends Miller out to do the Shows, and "OMG."

I saw part of his performance on Meet the Press, and it was shocking. He came across as Joseph Goebbels' bastard Jewish grandson, railing and ranting, ordering and demanding, lying and daring Chuck Todd -- or anyone else -- to do anything about it. Pugnacious doesn't begin to cover it.  This was a pure, over the top, Nazi performance project, something designed -- I thought -- to put the Fear into all of Trump's opponents, be they judges, media celebrities, or the pink pussy-hat wearing "Resistance."

Message: "This stops now."

Now while his performances were obviously being done for effect, I'm not sure he got the effect he wanted. When the initial shock wore off the Nazi allusions -- while still strong -- faded and some of us recognized that it was more on the lines of the Israeli Spokesperson (especially under the Likud regime) than straight out Nazi. Meaning that this is a contemporary model for regime spokesmouths, not the historic one from the Time of Unpleasantness in the 20th Century. This way of communicating regime demands and commands goes on all the time around the world. It's just not been typical American practice. So it's shocking -- and rightly so -- to see it on the Sunday Shows, unvarnished, unbridled, and very much in your face.

The reaction was mostly swift and quite negative. Not simply because he was lying; we're so used to that from the White House, it's almost normal. No, it was the whole package. If that's the way the White House wants to present itself, then by golly, it's game on.

A number of thinkers and pundits and commentators have been sounding the alarms. "This is an Emergency!" they say. If something isn't done, and done quickly, about Trump and his band of mountebanks and thieves, liars and con artists, Christian Dominionists and Apocalyptic believers, white supremacists, Fascists, and worse, the United States is on a path toward becoming a failed state in its own right and instigating global destruction on an unparalleled scale simply because it can.

Trump's core believers call these warnings "hysterics." I'm old enough to have lived through a number of these transformative presidencies, and I've never seen anything quite like this. The lies and the chaos are one thing. What's worse is the overt contempt for other interests and points of view, and the easy sadistic glee in scapegoating the vulnerable and punishing opponents. This cannot be allowed to stand.

But we can't look to the courts to save us. It's not going to happen. The courts can stall some of the worst of what's in store, but they can't stop it. Should the justices get too uppity, the regime can go full on Andrew Jackson and ignore any ruling it doesn't like. After all, the courts have no independent enforcement power.

No, the system under which we've been governed up till now can't handle something like this. It will shatter to pieces. Some would say that's a good thing in and of itself, and so we should just let it shatter. The system is decadent and corrupt and unreformable. It has to crash and burn for something better to emerge.

The Resistance, so far, is basically critiquing and naysaying. A positive alternative is still in formation.

Up till now, the Resistance has been a somewhat formless potential movement away from the chaos. Potential. It hasn't turned into a movement yet, though some of its critics call it one. It's lacking a catalyst to turn it into a movement.

But that could come at any minute.

Indeed, Stephen Miller's performance on the shows seems to be catalyzing something in the media particularly.

The demonstrations continue in the streets and at selected congressmembers' town halls and offices.

So far as I can recall, there have never been so many sustained nationwide opposition actions, and they are having an effect. That isn't to say they'll succeed. But they are being noticed, which is something that deliberately didn't happen with the demonstrations against the Iraq Invasion.

There have been a few counter demonstrations, but so far, they are very small and have had no effect at all.

Perception management is an important element in these situations, and in this case, there is a perception that opposition to Trump and his cronies is widespread, deep-rooted, active and determined.

The demonstrations immediately after the election were large and widespread, so large in fact that a whole sub-industry sprang up on line to discount them as "Clintonite" rejectionism, involving too few people to matter. Well, that was wrong. In fact those who were in the streets at the time reported that "Clintonites" were a minority among the crowds, as they have remained ever since.

No, the Resistance is something else again, and the Democratic Party and the Clintons are at best minor players. Often enough they are completely irrelevant to the interests and actions of those who are taking to the streets.

There was a brief moment of hysterics on the part of Trump supporters when Alex Jones (I think it was) said that the post election demonstrations were an attempt to incite a "Soros funded Color Revolution." Why that should inspire near-panic among the Trumpists, I'm not sure, but at the time, such a judgment was premature. There was no Color Revolution, not even a hint of it. There was a largely spontaneous rejection of the election outcome. Given the fact that Hillary had so many more votes than Trump -- by an as yet unknown margin at the time -- it was natural for people to vent their outrage. Yet again the Electoral College would override the vote of the people.

However, by the time of the Women's March, the day after the inauguration, many of the elements of a Color Revolution had come together. With or without Soros funding.

The color is pink; the hand-sign is a fist, the right arm held straight across the chest at heart level. Large scale mass demonstrations can be assembled at a moment's notice, and they can and do interfere with routine. They're covered in the media. When tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of demonstrators can be assembled quickly and can disrupt the implementation of some of the regime's diktats -- and do it over and over again -- it's kind of hard to ignore.

I said a week or so ago that the wheels had come off this shitwagon, and indeed that seems to be the case, as the White House is bunkered down and Trump himself prefers the Mar-a-Lago Winter Palace in Florida or the Trump Tower HQ in New York. At least in those places, his Divinity is unchallenged.

The White House has been flailing for weeks. The court battle over the travel ban diktat is symptomatic not dispositive. Flynn's resignation, the constant dissembling, the leaks,  the fights over cabinet picks, the utter chaos all contribute to the perception that the White House is a madhouse where no one really knows what's going on, and except for certain issues, Trump doesn't care. He's looking out for his own wealth and well-being; bugger the rest.

So my question is, "Will this regime be brought down?" The Magic 8 Ball says "Most Definitely!" I take that as a yes since my own Predict-O-Meter has long been on the fritz.

OK, let's say it happens. Who will do it? The people in the streets cannot do it on their own. They can, however, make it impossible for him (or his goons) to govern, and we're close to that point now.

"Ungovernable" has become one of the protest memes, and I'm promoting "Disobey." These are ideas and actions with powerful potentials. The roundups of immigrants haven't quite catalyzed the kind of response necessary -- ie: human shields in every case -- but as more and more efforts to crack down on the designated Others get under way, I think we'll see more direct action to stop it. Disobedience will become the rule rather than the exception. Becoming defiant and ungovernable will be the new normal.

On the other hand, the tipping point may have been reached with the resignation of General Flynn from the NSC. There is gossip that the matter actually involves Trump and Pence in a conspiracy of silence about their Russian dealings. (I've never put much store in the whole Russian Thing, but apparently it matters deeply within the governing clique.) If as may be the case, then entire Trump regime is involved in something that can be construed as compromising the sovereignty of the United States -- that's what this is beginning to look like -- then the consequences  can be, must be, severe. Though not likely, it could even involve treason.

Impeachment is an option, but I think it would take too long and much mischief would be possible in the meantime.

It looks more and more like a coup will be deemed "necessary." My suspicion is that the next time Trump goes to Florida, a select team will place him under house arrest. Meanwhile, in DC other teams will isolate Pence and the White House staff. A general, could be even Mattis, but Petraeus is more likely, will take charge (much as Al Haig tried to do when Reagan was shot.) He will be interim leader.

What happens then is anybody's guess, but if the present regime is deposed, we can be sure there will be dancing in the streets.

I give it till the end of the month.


  1. Hi, Che,

    I had an interesting, albeit brief, discussion with one of my daughter's friends yesterday. One nice thing about having a kid who never quite moves out is that I get to keep tabs on what the young un's are thinking. These are kids in their twenties. They are the next generation and will be running this place pretty soon. I have found that they universally (at least in these parts) supported Bernie Sanders, and loathed Clinton and Trump equally (she's a war-monger and a neoliberal - yes, they use those words - and he's a fascist pig who wants to hand the entire apparatus over to the corporate CEOs and let the world burn). They marvel at the older generation's interest in impeding gay marriage because to them, it should be a non-issue. (Who care if gays get married? Who does it hurt?) They are pissed at the Republican desire to do away with abortion rights and access to birth control (WTF is this backwards medieval shit? they say. Get out of my personal business.) They want jobs, they want relief from crushing student debt, they want something done for the environment and they fear the lack of action on climate change and our infrastructure. They want their tax money spent on their good and the good of the planet, not on more wars and arms. They can't stand either the Democrats or the Republicans - the Repubs are their distinct enemy, while the Dems are completely useless.

    So anyway, I was talking to this young woman, and she said that she thinks Trump and his gang are fascists, but have gone about their power-grab in the wrong way. "Fascists," she said, "traditionally gain their power by first going after the opposing ideology. Go after the 'commies' and the 'socialists' first. Try to get the people convinced you have a better plan than those guys. Get as much of the public on board as you can. Give them jobs and make their lives a touch easier so they are convinced you've got the right ideas, the ideas that work. THEN you go after the minorities; the racial or religious minorities, the women, or the gays, the ones you REALLY want to get rid of to 'cleanse the system' and remake society in the image you want. Trump and the people he is bringing in went at it in absolutely the wrong way. Went after the minorities and the weak right out of the gate. Immediately hit immigrants, Muslims, gays, women. There was no intervening conciliatory improvements to anyone's lives, no 'better plan' to offer against the ideas of the 'socialistic' and popular plans that Sanders had and that people knew would work, the math worked and the ideas were acceptable to the public, and people were already heading that way. Instead, the Trumpers went straight to some ethnic cleansing shit. It entirely exposed what they were really after, and the majority of Americans won't tolerate it. There are too many of us in the groups these assholes are targeting, and too many of us who don't have any animosity against these Trump targets. This is a war they've started, and they are going to lose real quick."
    Con't in next comment.

  2. Thing told me I had too many characters in my comment, so here is the last bit that I wrote:

    She went on to point out that Trump only got 24% of the eligible vote and that the old guard Democrats were just as much to blame as the Republicans. She wasn't concerned that an impeachment action would put Pence in charge; she said he would encounter even more resistance than Trump, since Pence is on the fringe-iest fringe of the religious nuts, and anyway, she wasn't talking about impeachment - she was talking about complete resistance and impedance (disobedience) to their plans. Revolution. The kids are done with this shit. They want the younger generation with their ideas of tolerance and protecting the planet and an end to war-making in charge.

    It was invigorating to talk to her. It was also a lot to digest. A lot of these kids went to the Women's March, BTW, and not one single one went to support Clinton. They are surprised to hear media people say now that it was some kind of Clinton operative scam. That's not why these kids were there.

    We'll see what happens. It's going to be interesting, and I daresay, unpredictable.

    - Teri

    1. Teri,

      That's really very encouraging, and it mirrors my impression out here in the wilderness. The young people are fed up with this shit. Neither main political party has any interest in their well-being over the short or the long term. And many of them will do what it takes to... change it.

      What that will mean is still up in the air. But the current situation cannot be sustained. And it won't be. The air has gone out of the Trumpian enterprise, but the Dems are in no position to gloat or to take the reins. They have no more credibility than Trump and his gang.

      So it's got to be something else.

      I've been saying to my riled up older friends that whatever comes has to be the work of the young. We've done what we could; it's time for the young folk to take over, and as you say, they're mostly on the right path.

      We'll see...