Friday, May 7, 2021

E.T.

When Republicans in the House and Senate let us know back in February there's to be no such thing as an impeachable offense for their own party's next "president"the one they're now working feverishly to installI speculated that economic torpor is one form the end-of-the-world dread they're stoking here in the U.S. might take.

Is this it?

I don’t know. Maybe. We’ll see.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Now Forming: Election-Integrity Brigades

In February I speculated we'd soon see Republicans passing legislation aimed at making polling-place voter intimidation easier.

Sucks being right.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Impeachment -- My Kitchen -- Torpor

There’s no such thing as an impeachable offense.

Not for Republican U.S. presidents, anyway.

That’s what we know for sure after February 13, 2021.

Now if only a Republican could actually win the presidency! There would be no getting rid of that person—ever!

(What are you going to do? Impeach him or her when s/he refuses to GTFO after a losing reelection bid? See lines 1 and 2.)

Since that probably can’t happen soon—a Republican winning a fair national election, even with Electoral College help—there’s just one path forward now for Republicans:

Aggressive pursuit of full-on minority rule.

For real. That’s the plan.

We can expect, in the next couple-few years, an unholy enfilade of vote-suppression efforts in Republican-controlled states.

Laws saying you vote on election day or you don’t vote.

Laws saying you vote in person or...same.

Laws saying you can get as gunned-up as you want before heading for the polls—and hang out outside the front door, there, as long as you like.

Laws saying (this one's the ringer, by the way) if even two percent of voter signatures from any given precinct are deemed suspicious by trained handwriting analysts (yuk-yuk, har-har), that whole precinct’s results will be deemed hopelessly tainted and thrown out.

Handwriting analysis may be the most garbage-ass of all garbage sciences, but our knowing this won’t prevent there from being a whole lot of suspicious signatures, in upcoming elections, from Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and—mother of them all—Atlanta.

(Those are the places where Black people vote! Shhh.)

Get these new “voter protections,” they’ll be called, in place, and the Senate, Congress, and White House are all in play again.

Who will stop Republicans from implementing them, after all? The newly remade SCOTUS?

That wasn't a serious question.

What’s more, the 2024 Republican presidential candidate may not even need to finagle a win to win. He or she might pursue the sure-to-turn-violent they’ve-stolen-it-from-us-again! strategy Timothy Snyder warns us is coming. And if Republicans have back the House and Senate by then, those chambers will simply join the chorus: stolen indeed!

Then they’ll “vote,” or something, to throw out all “suspicious” (that is, Democrat) ballots.

Look:

We’re going to emerge, in the coming months, from the COVID calamity.

As our favorite news sources’ homepages find more space for them, headlines about brewing vote-suppression (again: protection, Republicans pronounce it) efforts in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, etc., will start putting on thunder.

By fall, the Very Stable Genius may well (re)emerge as the leading 2024 Republican candidate.

(He’s that already, though, isn’t he? Maybe Timothy Snyder counted him out too soon. He wouldn't be the first.)

What will things be like in the U.S. by this autumn?

One indication may lie in my kitchen.

I was totally ready to tackle Phase II of a humble remodeling project this summer.

Phase I, a few years back, was delightful new penny-tile floors for said room—and for a couple other spots and corners of my tiny antique townhouse, too.

This summer would have been new kitchen countertops...sink...subway-tile backsplashes....

Maybe that same subway tile would’ve gone in the shower upstairs.

I sure like envisioning it.

The thing, though, is this:

No way am I spending money on any of that now.

Not because I harbor illusions about single-handedly teaching the U.S. a lesson about holding hands with fascists. And not because I think I can make those Republicans rue the 13th of February—or the 6th of January, for that matter.

A few K was all I was going to spend.

A wee few K in aptly named Bucks County, PA.

What I wonder, though, is how many me there are out there.

How many Americans, that is, now on no way I’m remodeling the kitchen?

No way I’m buying a new car.

No way I’m buying a house.

No way I’m taking out college loans.

No way I’m taking the kids to Mos Eisley at Disney World.

(We haven’t even flown our thought experiment overseas yet. How many brilliant European, African, Asian 18 year-olds on no way I’m applying to Yale?)

No way, no way, no way.

Not, at least, until it‘s clear this country will stabilize and return to something sort of like its pre-summer 2015 (golden-escalator descent) self instead of continuing to describe an ever-tightening gyre in fascism's toilet bowl.

No...way.

How many me?

Sinking more K's into my house would mean I’m reasonably sure I’ve got a future in it. That I can stay in it until such time as its steadily increasing value gets me my K’s back.

Is the U.S. going to give me that handful of years?

I don’t know. It might. But I don’t know. 

What I do know is that I won't be a "citizen" of any country where I don't get to vote.

Or where Black and brown and poor people's votes get thrown out.

I won't be party to that kind of craven and sickening immorality.

That's why instead of spending K’s, I’m bloody well stockpiling them.

(Digitally, I mean. They’re not in my mattress or anything.)

K’s can be useful, after all, to someone needing to start over somewhere else.

Somewhere really else.

How many me?

How many Americans thinking now—because what choice, at a certain point, have you got?—about prepping for something/somewhere really, really else? Stashing K’s? Having to start pondering it, at least? Having to start kicking it around?

Cultural and economic torpor.

That’s what my not-getting-renovated kitchen whispers to me about the coming months
the next few yearsin the U.S.

Nothing it occurs to me to do isn’t occurring to millions of other Americans.

I'm not that far ahead of any curve.

A whole lot of Americans. Must be. Disinvesting now
for the time being, at least. Living increasingly small and light. Pondering serious change of a sort few privileged first-worlders ever imagine having to imagine. 

Because one America poised now to step forward from the ever-swirling, ever-mysterious mists of the future is one in which the only meaningful vote left is the sort we cast with our feet.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Denunciators

Looks like a first of Timothy Snyder's predictions is coming true.

Not that it's anything to be particularly happy about, Timothy Snyder's predictions coming true....

Monday, January 11, 2021

Open Letter to Eight PA Congressmen Who Voted to Overturn the Election

Representative Joyce/Kelly/Keller/Meuser/Perry/Reschenthaler/Smucker/Thompson:  

  

On the morning of January 7th, 2021, hours after an anti-democratic mob desecrated the U.S. Capitol, terrorized your colleagues, and cost five citizens their lives, you took a first step in Congress toward silencing the voices of millions of Americans who had, two months earlier, expressed themselves peacefully and lawfully using state-issued ballots.  

  

You would, on no evidence, charge your political opponents with widespread, organized fraud—then demand they come before you to prove their innocence.

  

Your vote on January 7th was immoral, profoundly un-American, and a gift to demagogues everywhere.

  

I’m one of the Pennsylvanians and Americans you aim to silence. And though I’m privileged not to be your constituent, I pledge nonetheless to work and donate to see you defeatedpeacefully, lawfullyin November of 2022.   

  

That said, it shouldn’t come to that—because you must now do what’s right and protect Pennsylvania and your country from further harm by resigning your seat in Congress.  

  

I also urge your staffer reading this to quit working for you immediately.  

  

Sincerely,  

  

Stephen N. doCarmo, PhD

Doylestown, PA 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Heir/The Woods

Just took in this NYT essay by Timothy Snyder from Yale. 

Though he wrote it after the events of last Wednesday, he nonetheless thinks President Very Stable Genius is done and that his cult will push him aside soon enough. 

That's because, as Snyder observes, "It is impossible to inherit from someone who is still around." 

What would President VSG's followers like to inherit? 

The big lie he finally worked himself up to telling in November of 2020. 

The one about a truly—top-to-bottom—rigged and stolen election. 

His followers—true "breakers" of the American political system, not mere "gamers" of it like most Republican politicians of recent decades—just adore this lie, VSG's first truly fascist one. It's the kind that demands total belief in the teller, inspiring fury and paranoia by reversing power dynamics and creating an alternate reality cult members can inhabit together. 

Why, then, will the cult soon push the leader aside? 

VSG came to the big lie too late, only after spending four years alienating the military leaders and "gamers" a more talented fascist would have known to get on board early.   

Too bad his all-consuming, vision-limiting narcissism retarded his advancement through the pre-fascist stage for so long.   

Too bad for the cult, that is.  

This is why, if Snyder's right, the cult will soon be done with him. His flaws are too evident now, his moment passed.

The worst big lies often outlive their tellers, though, Snyder says. 

The one about Jewish people back-stabbing Germany during World War I had been wafting around like a stale beer belch for fifteen years before Hitler took hold of it. 

Snyder worries that a Republican breaker more talented and more visionary than VSG will now get hold of the genuinely big, genuinely fascist lie he finally got around to telling (any Democrat win is a fraudulent win) and run with it. 

Who will that heir be?   

Ted Cruz? 

Seems unlikely. Dude has all the charisma of a sack of manure. 

Josh Hawley? 

I'm not feeling it. Too plastic. Possesses roughly the same gravitas as the bachelor from The Bachelor. Whichever season. Take your pick. 

Charisma counts with fascists. And though he may as well have had "IQ 85" tattooed on his forehead, VSG was a forceful and compelling screen presence, to give him his due.

If Snyder is right, and we have cause to be deeply fearful about 2024 and the violence-inducing we-win-because-we-lose strategy that year's Republican candidate may well adopt, I have to think VSG's heir and the breakers' next-level achiever is someone we don't even know yet. 

Or someone, anyway, whose next-level abilities haven't yet announced themselves. 

Me, I'm less convinced we're out of the VSG woods. 

I keep thinking about how a mob of thousands occupied the United States Capitol for hours last week, treated it like an animal pen, took only one casualty and walked out when it got bored.  

I keep thinking about how negligible the police presence was there that day. Especially in light of the fact that the mob had been broadcasting its plans for weeks. 

I keep thinking about how the National Guard never did show up—to the U.S. Capitol. 

I keep thinking about how all the above could easily be read as promises and assurances to people who were either in that mob or might be interested in participating in the next one. 

I keep imagining them hearing from buddies who know—or who are—Michigan state cops or National Guard members that they can take the Michigan State House, if they want. 

I keep forming visions of cops stepping aside to let a 95% white and male mob much more confident, much less violent, than last Wednesday's walk right into said State House. 

I imagine their compatriots next door, in Ohio, having seen Michigan on TV, doing the same in Columbus. 

Then their compatriots next door doing the same in Harrisburg. 

Walking right in, unstopped, no shots fired. Scarcely a tussle anywhere. 

They walk in, sit down at this governor's desk, that governor's desk. Feet up on desks, rifles hung on hooks on backs of walnut doors. Staying this time, not going anywhere, guffawing and cracking open beers and farting, assured in the knowledge that neither law enforcement nor the military is on the way, is going to stop them, that this thing, coast to coast, Atlantic to Pacific, taking place now in state after state, is done, is over. 

A remarkably bloodless coup. In the United States. 

VSG for life. In the United States. 

We call it New Russia now. 

Ridiculous. Of course. All of it.   

Might as well envision a furious mob of thousands invading the Capitol in D.C., smashing everything, getting five people killed, holding the place for hours, leaving only because it can't find anyone whose wrists are worth the zip-ties, whose brains are worth the ammo, only because it's bored, walking out unimpeded, the National Guard never somehow arriving. 

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Gang of 147

Let's remember them in the coming months, years.

I know I will.

"Be There. Will Be Wild!"

That's what President Very Stable Genius promised his followers in advance of yesterday's insurrection.

He was right!

Twenty-Fifth Amendment him. Then impeach him and this time convict him.   

It's not just a gesture. A dozen times over now that man is a criminal. (Yesterday's charge: inciting a rioteven if "riot" seems too weak a word.) And criminals can't run for president. 

Not twice, anyway.