Annus Horribilis

2020. Not anybody’s fault in particular, despite all the blaming and shaming, despite all the rage and despair. Still, everyone I know will be glad to see the end of it. We resolve never to forget its victims, nor fail to honor the good people who went to work every morning or afternoon or evening through the worst of it, who risked their lives for the rest of us every single day of this accursed year.

The modern engines of distraction turned out to be something of a mixed blessing, but as we beeped and booped our way through seemingly endless landscapes of streaming video, or succumbed to compulsive nocturnal doomscrolling on twitter, we counted ourselves lucky to have them. Let us pray that in the coming year we won’t need them as much as they need us. Amen.

Election Postscript: A Brief Note on Masculinity

Real Men™ shouldn’t need to:

1. Call themselves boys, even if they have fond memories of once having been one.
2. Take steroids, or cultivate patriarchal beards.
3. Own bulletproof vests or camouflage-patterned caps, hats, jackets, shirts, cargo pants, underwear, jock straps or socks.
4. Store 10,000 rounds of ammunition and a crate of hand grenades in their garages.
5. Buy or carry any device or appurtenance labeled tactical, including knives, flashlights, dog-tag holders, hip flasks, or roach clips.
6. Wear machine guns in public the way Donald Trump wears a tie.
7. Strike Rambo poses in front of fifty American flags.
8. Decorate themselves or any of their possessions, especially trucks, with Confederate battle flags, swastikas, or Nazi slogans.
9. Mistake mobs of vicious degenerates for patriots.
10. Bully their wives and beat their children (or vice-versa, or both.)
11. Go home at night and lick their AR-15s.

Quarantinations

I’m pretty sure that Christian Education and Socialist Realism were assembled in the same oxymoron factory.

Sauve qui peut, or salsipuedes? Seems you must pick one or the other (though neither of them are to be what they claim.)

Twitter has its virtues. Preparing a table for us in the presence of our enemies isn’t the least of them.

A pity our American Nazis don’t speak German. If they did, we could maybe teach them a little Heine, a little Rilke, a little Brecht.

We live in a golden age of unintended consequences. A cliché, but what about those armies of raccoons ambushing hapless Whole Foods delivery drones in dimly-lit urban alleyways, or your Tesla backing out of the garage and driving to MacDonalds without opening the door for you first? You anticipate any of that, did you?

Biden’s Victory Speech

Now is the Summer of our discontent
Made glorious Winter by this dearth of Trump

If all goes as well for the Democrats on November 3rd as reality is likely to permit, there may be a few minutes, a few hours, even a few days of self-congratulatory euphoria granted to the Ancien Régime of the DNC and its legions of fellow travelers. At the end of it, though, the butcher‘s bill will be presented to someone else, preferably someone to the left of them, and their descent into irrelevance will pick up again exactly where it left off on November 2nd.

Brown Is the New Blue

The New York Police Benevolent Association’s bid to turn urban police departments into America’s Sturmabteilungen.

Now that Patrick Lynch, President of the New York Police Benevolent Association, has dreamt up a left-wing war on cops, and enthusiastically endorsed Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection bid, there’s no longer any reason to pretend that metropolitan police forces in the United States aspire to anything beyond remaining the largest and best-funded gangs in their respective cities.

Translated into plain English, the message from Lynch is clear enough:

If we feel like sodomizing Abner Louima with a broken broomstick, or pumping 19 bullets into an unarmed Amadou Diallo, or choking out Eric Garner, we’re just gonna do it, and if you know what’s good for you, you civilians are gonna keep your mouths shut about it. None of this shit about black lives matter, or defunding the police, you got it? Otherwise you can just call a fucking Democrat instead of 911 the next time you need protection. Finally, do we REALLY need to remind you that there’s 50,000 of us, and we’ve got body armor, tanks, helicopters, and automatic weapons? If you think Bill de Blasio runs this fucking city, think again. The Donald understands us, so we’re down with him. We’re gonna make sure he gets four more years, and after that, you can go fuck yourselves, all of you.

This is interest group politics transformed into something far more toxic to civil society, far more likely to qualify as fascism with American characteristics than anything we’ve seen so far in national politics. The question is, what happens now that Lynch and his boys have so openly crossed the Rubicon? Regardless of the outcome of the elections in November, the political class is unlikely to return unchallenged to the kind of neoliberal centrism touted by the DNC or Atlantic magazine. It seems far more likely that an ever-capricious Donald Trump will offer urban cops, white supremacist biker gangs, rural sheriff’s departments, Oath Keeper and Proud Boy militias, Christian Dominionists, and the rest of his proud deplorables whatever cover they need to attack people living happily in circumstances that their peculiar subcultures find unendurable.

Why would he not? There’s surely nothing more perfectly suited to Trump’s ego-driven triumphalism than starting a civil war, especially one that his very stable genius can’t imagine losing. The only thing stopping him, the only thing keeping his malignant meddling from turning a disorganized rabble of volunteer culture warriors into a full-blown fascist movement, is his own lack of character.

Whatever actually motivates him, Trump is clearly a narcissist, not an ideologue, a Perón rather than a Hitler. His followers are good at resenting anything they can’t understand, and threatening people who can’t defend themselves, but they’re not much good at anything else apart from bootlicking and delusional aphorisms. This might not matter if they had a halfway committed leader, but Trump himself is far too lazy and far too incompetent to take personal charge of forging their resentments into a set of principles robust enough to govern a country of 330 million people.

For those of us sane enough to want out of this whole demeaning Todestanz, the absence of anyone in Trumps’s entourage actually competent enough to seize state power might offer us exactly what we need, namely a little more time to get our affairs in order before the real apocalypse — climate change, famines, mass migrations, collapsing global economic interdependencies and real wars, with real armies — is upon us in earnest. We can only hope.