Between a Crook and a Numb Place

It’s the new regime’s apparent strategy to throw so much shit, all the time, that there is no effort at “distraction” so much as a sense of running for cover from an effort to carpet bomb all of us with layers upon layers manure. Even if you manage to get inside and wash yourself off, the stench of it is pervasive. It’s even caustic and corrosive, seemingly. Funny, but it has similarities to how I’d describe pervasive racism and similarly strong, ubiquitous prejudices that are hard to escape. Those tend to come from everywhere rather than a central location, but in a way #45 is but a culmination of much of that, allowed to fester in an unchecked individual.

It’s quite possible that our reigning Puppet-in-Chief’s willful obliviousness to dissenting opinions and thin skin at the least criticism means everyone there can engage in this strategy without it being a deliberate one. All anyone has to do to get him to do what they want, if they’re within reach, is flatter him in such a way that he feels it is his own smart idea to do a thing. Or, conversely, goad him by making it seem some other party is out to attack. This all happens at such a pace that there’s scant time to remember it, let alone prepare and respond comprehensively.

Are we outraged about appointees? Do something more outrageous. Are we on the trail of Russian meddling in U.S. elections and elections in other nations? Create an executive order that fulfills an unconstitutional-as-stated campaign promise. Are we outraged at the attempt to weaken healthcare reform? Quickly satisfy an itch to fire someone on the trail of Russian meddling in U.S. elections. And when all else fails, use splashy bombs that get half the press to describe the lead puppet as suddenly presidential. This circular firestorm is engineered to disorient, create numbness, and ensure that “lesser” complaints like corrupt dealings get moved to the back burner. It’s easy to forget correlations from a mere two months ago when it was noted now-A.G. Sessions stood to profit from for-profit prisons, and just recently we’re suddenly hearing from sessions that the War on Drugs is on full blast with maximum sentences sought. I have to actively search for what the Secretary of Education is on about, now, and that woman is in a position to do decades of slow-motion damage. Rampant Would-Be-Dic-Tater But-Actually-a-Petulant-Petty-Carrot turning in an incompetent commencement speech? More for laughs and a sign of how inured we’ve become that it’s expected rather than — were this a generation ago — grist itself for a giant, administration-shaking scandal. We’ve already started to forget the blatant nepotism and cronyism and how they were installed. Ready for a whole slate of new judicial appointments to be slid through while the next battery of bad news falls out regarding the espionage scandal? Can we even pay attention to them?

I’m exhausted. You?

I have completely lost count of the number of insanely bad ill omens that cross my desk on a daily basis. More than one a day, started before the swearing in, and we’re past the day. I might have hit thousands, by now.

I can compromise with some things. Some ideas are worth not compromising about. It’s worth noting that the last time it came down to the wire with one sizable portion of the nation wanting to have their slavery and eat the rest of the cake, too, it did not go well. Nor did they settle for anything less than rewriting the history books to their advantage. Arguably, that last fact cost us the war. US, meaning the U.S., not the North. We’re still choking on that division, as a result, at the same time that generations later we’re also choking on the kind of tax laws that have widened the gap between wealthy and poor to a degree I feel safe calling it class warfare. We’re still choking on that division, as a result, at the same time that new civil rights fronts have opened up — an opportunity for greater equality, and I’ve personally needed it, but at the same time an even sharper cultural schism. We’re still choking on that division, as a result, and I can never agree to the terms of the new regime.

When the U.S. election was manipulated, it was a decisive stroke, preying on our worst weakness. Our imagined unity and our seeming strength of democracy were actually quite fragile. There was even, in fact, one essay by a certain Marine personally imploring us to vote against a would-be-tyrant after seeing how fragile a democratic can be, witnessing it in other republics. He was not at all wrong.

I cannot compromise with this degree of willful malice, ignorance wielded as a toy, and a quarter of the nation cheering. The division that exists threatens to rip apart the nation, already not able to agree on a single identity, and yet though I regard my opponents as human, their lack of regard for anyone not on their side as human forces a state of zero compromise. Their willingness to insist that a genuine need for equality is always to their detriment, their constant insistence that human rights are actually preferential treatment.

I wanted, badly, to help find common ground, in the months leading up to the election. I’m not without empathy. I see how some have been manipulated over time into taking what legitimate grievances they had and welding that onto racist spite. I now feel my nation is held hostage by a minority alliance of racist whites still upset over the Obama presidency, “Christian” evangelicals bent on establishing a theocracy and willing to lie to do it, and poor whites that’ve been encouraged to blame their loss of jobs on affirmative action, social welfare, social justice, immigrant populations, Obamacare, any social safety net (whether or not they need it themselves), and anything else the invisible hand of neoliberal economic philosophy distilled to ever more harsh forms over the decades wants us to be angry at. It’s not capitalism any more in any functional way, it’s oligarchy patting itself on the back as it imagines itself the outcome of Social Darwinism with the occasional swatch of decorative Wealth Gospel thrown in as moral self-fulfilled prophecy.

I’m not going to compromise with our captors. Not now, under these conditions. Which is a fire realization to have to make.

I’m beyond exhausted. I’m going numb from shock and exposure to too much bullshit. You?

And somehow I’m supposed to go on with the day to day existence like nothing happened, be professional at work, engage in pleasantry, ignore the constant background radiation of stress in my brain that’s gone from merely cancer causing and likely to cause radiation sickness over time to imminent radiation poisoning without constant, bulky shields and strange tasting medicines meant to flush the likely unstable isotopes out of my blood. It’s hard to walk around with this mask. I’m not sure any of this is sufficient.

I’m trying to execute a change in tactics. A few months ago, it became apparent I would need to. I quit doing daily photos, they were unfortunately not going anywhere. I have a definite idea of what I want to do, but it partly depends on resurrecting some old skills I haven’t really put to serious use for years, as well as some new skills I’ll need to develop.

Just being the nice, everyday face isn’t going to do it.

I can’t afford to go numb. I need to go loud.

I just hope that I can pull this off.

In the meantime… I’m still painting. It’s one more way to communicate.


[Edited for, hopefully, clarity — late night rants sometimes need even more rant to become clear. The mind has a way of shorthanding things that need be said aloud when tired.]

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