So Long, White America

Is This What We’ve Come To?

In an essay on James Fenimore Cooper appearing in his 1923 Studies in Classical American Literature, British novelist D. H. Lawrence wrote:

But you have there the myth of the essential white American. All the other stuff, the love, the democracy, the floundering into lust, is a sort of by-play. The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted.

I can’t believe that Lawrence got it so right on the money a hundred years ago.

Last year, I gave up on the Democratic Party. This year, I’m giving up on the white race. When I get the 2020 Census form, I will identify myself as being of Other race. The peoples belonging the the Finno-Ugric Language Family—comprising Finns, Hungarians, Estonians, Karelians, Komi, Udmurts, Mari, Mordvins, Khanties, and Mansis—derive ultimately from the Ural Mountains, which straddle the border between Europe and Asia. Rather than count myself in the same race as the a**holes in the above photo, I am now of Finno-Ugric race. I can also called myself Asian. I’ll see how I feel about it later.

But white? Uh-uh!

 

 

The Truth Shall Set You Free

Note: I Said “The Truth,” NOT “The Tweet”

This year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner featured a young comedienne named Michelle Wolf, of whom I had never heard before her scathing performance. I am told that many were offended. Good!

On one hand, the media has come under attack from Führer Trumpf and his minions for being “fake news.” On the other hand, they have become such a dispirited bunch that they half-heartedly waste space on presidential pronouncements that are lies and trial balloons. If the audience thought Wolf was in bad taste, they haven’t bothered to take a look in the mirror lately. For the most part, they don’t like the Current Occupant any more than I do, but many work for corporations that rather like the idea of the Trumpf presidency.

What Comes from His Midnight Lucubrations? Not News, but Monsters from the Id

Listen, the man is a poor actor. How does one send an actor to Coventry? Simple. One ignores him, or—if that is not possible—disparages him without cease.

Maybe Michelle Wolf is not the world’s funniest comedian. It’s just that she has balls that are mostly lacking in her audience. Perhaps the Capital’s press association should take this occasion to schedule her for next year, too. After all, Trumpf is already on the run. He’s afraid to attend!

 

Is Sean Hannity Trumpf’s Love Child?

Why Is He Always Photographed with His Mouth Open?

Years ago, I read an article either in Harper’s or The Atlantic entitled “There Are 00 Trees in Russia.” It was there I discovered that editors who did not like a particular news subject printed a photograph with his mouth open. I am amused that all the news pieces I read about Sean Hannity show the right-wing pundit with his mouth agape.

The discovery that Hannity is one of Michael Cohen’s three clients This seems to indicate a much closer tie between the last remaining Nazi troll at Fox News and the Nazi thug president he adores. I don’t quite know what to make of this, and I am not sure I’ll ever know, but it amuses me to no end. I keep thinking of the calypso song in Kurt Vonnegut Jr’s Cat’s Cradle:

Nice, nice, very nice
So many people in the same device

While I have no great admiration for the Democrats as they try to recover from the debacle of 2016, I must admit that the Republicans have displayed such general incompetence that I have some hopes that perhaps the Democracy will somehow stagger forward another few cycles before it collapses of total inanition.

 

Going South for the Winter

Novelist and World Traveler Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux has had an immense influence on my life. When I first read The Old Patagonian Express: By Train Through the Americas in 1981, I knew that I wanted to travel as he did. But I couldn’t: I was stuck in a demanding job, and many of the places I wanted to visit, such as Guatemala, Peru, and Argentina, were undergoing hard times; and travel there was not recommended by our State Department.

But the years have passed, and travel to Latin America is not so problematic any more. (Though, now, parts of Mexico are dangerous—including many cities, such as Veracruz, which I have visited.)

After writing books about traveling by rail through Asia and China, about traveling around the coasts of Britain and the Mediterranean, and about island-hopping in the South Pacific, Theroux spent four winters traveling through the Deep South, concentrating on poor small towns in Georgia, the Carolinas, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas. His book, Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads, opened my eyes to why Trump won in 2016. Theroux’s South was a place where people were more civil to strangers than in other parts of the country. Yet there is a great deal of poverty, and many of its people feel they have been shunted aside by history, large corporations, and general neglect.

Theroux, the world traveler, spent those four winters dealing with people who, for the most part, never traveled abroad. He spent more time with Black Americans than with Whites. Both racists are as far apart as ever, yet there are glimmers of hope. And the hope is not from Washington and New York, where all the money is concentrated, but from local people who bring about incremental improvements rather than global change.

He is older and wiser after his forty-odd years of travel. “The greatest advantage to being an older traveler is being invisible, unregarded, ignored. This allows one to eavesdrop and to see much more of a place or a people. There is a detachment, too, in being older: You’re not looking for a new life, not easily tempted. So you see a place clearly. Perfect for writing.”

The travels that went into the making of this book took place before the electoral debacle of 2016, but one could see the widespread willingness to try something new, to talk to somehow who promised to “Make America Great Again.” Not that this administration will anything to help them. A trade war with China would hurt voters in Trump country far more than voters in the Northeast and West.

 

Jim Carrey Takes on the Trump Troll

I Scream, You Scream …

Actor Jim Carrey looks to be on the point of starting a brilliant new career, as an Anti-Trump Twitter Troll. The tweet that went with the above picture is:

Jim Carrey

@JimCarrey

 Dear Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery @NPG, I know it’s early but I’d like to submit this as the official portrait of our 45th President, Donald J. Trump. It’s called, ‘You Scream. I Scream. Will We Ever Stop Screaming?’

Even more artistic is this one about General Kelly:

 

Guess Who

The accompanying tweet reads as follows:

Jim Carrey

@JimCarrey

 All who enter his crooked carnival with integrity are doomed to leave without it. General Kelly has been trampled by his own compromise. Who dares be the next to ride the carousel of fools?! Muahahaha!!!

Finally, I couldn’t pass up this attack on the current Speaker of the House of Representatives:

Paul Ryan

And the tweet thereunto appertaining:

Jim Carrey

@JimCarrey

 Tone deaf Paul Ryan brags that his tax bill is going to make low income voters an extra $1.50 a week! That’s almost enough for a box of Band-Aids. Who needs healthcare? WAKE UP REPUBLICAN BASE! You are parked on the tracks, cheering for the train that’s about to run you down. ;^P

You can see all the pictures by clicking here.

June 16, 2015—Day of Infamy

Mark That Date in Your Book of Infamy

That was the day Donald Trumpf and his wife Melania rode that escalator at Trump Tower to announce his run for the presidency. And that was the day he decided to attack Mexican-Americans and promise to build a “big beautiful wall” for which Mexico would pay:

Donald Trump kicked off his presidential bid more than a year ago with harsh words for Mexico. “They are not our friend, believe me,” he said, before disparaging Mexican immigrants: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

And with that speech came an injection of open racial hate into American life from a presidential candidate. The hate continued to build until only the hard core of his supporters were exempted from being called “losers.”

Alas, on that day, we all became losers. Big time.

 

Making Withdrawals from the Rage Bank


There I was, sitting at Lee’s Kitchen in Torrance by my lonesome eating a plate of spicy Szechuan eggplant when it all suddenly fell into place for me. I have been struggling since election night in November 2016 to determine what suddenly happened to my country. It took a German philosopher named Peter Sloterdijk to point at a few things I have been missing. The article was in the February 26, 2018 issue of The New Yorker, entitled “A Celebrity Philosopher Explains the Populist Insurgency”:

Sloterdijk deplored the rise of the right, but he couldn’t resist seeing something salutary in the spectacle. “It’s been coming for a long time,” he said. “It’s also a sign that Germans are more like the rest of humanity than they like to believe.” He started talking about “rage banks,” his term for the way that disparate grievances can be organized into larger reserves of political capital.

He described this concept in his 2006 book Rage and Time, an examination of the loathing of liberal democracy by nativist, populist, anarchic, and terrorist movements. The book follows his usual detour-giddy historical method, comparing political uses of anger, and of related emotions such as pride and resentment, from Homer to the present. In premodern societies, he argues, vengeance and blood feuds provided ample outlet for these impulses. Later, loyalty to the nation-state performed a similar function, and international Communism managed to direct class rage into utopian projects. But modern capitalism presents a particular problem. “Ever more irritated and isolated individuals find themselves surrounded by impossible offers,” he writes, and, out of this frustrated desire, “an impulse to hate everything emerges.” It was this kind of rage, Sloterdijk believes, that was on display in the riots in the banlieues of Paris in 2005.

In Rage and Time, Sloterdijk writes that the discontents of capitalism leave societies susceptible to “rage entrepreneurs”—a phrase that uncannily foreshadows the advent of Donald Trump. When we spoke about Trump, Sloterdijk explained him as part of a shift in Western history. “This is a moment that won’t come again,” he told me. “Both of the old Anglophone empires have within a short period withdrawn from the universal perspective.” Sloterdijk went so far as to claim that Trump uses fears of ecological devastation in his favor. “The moment for me was when I first heard him say ‘America First,’ ” he said. “That means: America to the front of the line! But it’s not the line for globalization anymore, but the line for resources. Trump channels this global feeling of ecological doom.”

There is no doubt in my mind that this rage has been building for years and reached a peak during the two Obama terms. It became so intense to certain segments of society that have felt increasingly left out of the political process—by an uppity nigra no less—that they exercised their “impulse to hate everything.” The rickety Electoral College did the rest.

Since Trump has taken office, a new rage has been building, mostly in the states that voted for Clinton. It can be expressed in the T-Shirt from Redbubble that reads, “FUCK TRUMP AND FUCK YOU FOR VOTING FOR HIM.”

Tomorrow, when I take the train to go downtown to the Central Library, I plan to take out Sloterdijk’s book Rage and Time, if I can find it.