Trump, President of the Invisible Empire of the KKK
It’s not his mental fitness, people. It’s his MORAL fitness that is at issue.
He is evil, filled with hate, greed, racism, prejudice, stupidity – and is satisfied with it.
Worse: The Republican Party put him in power and praises him and supports him.
Worse still: A great number of US citizens voted for him – because he is a mirror of their own shameful prejudices, their hidden – and not so hidden – hatred and nihilism.
Someone argued with me, when I made this, that “you can’t find a picture of him wearing a Klan hood.” No, you can’t. Because it is invisible, but AUDIBLE.
He is the President of the Invisible Empire – how the KKK always refers to itself. It is an empire of idiotic, monstrous beliefs, beliefs that aim to murder and enslave and diminish and declare other humans different than pale & “Christian” &”straight” to be “not human.” Other. Disposable.
This is proto-Nazism. Fascism. White trash supremacy. Trump is NOT my president; and those who keep him in power or put him there are a menace to humanity, truth, justice, mercy, and all good things that make life worth living.
I am a stranger in a strange land. I always have been, but this land has become even stranger over my lifetime. This is not my country – I am, as Diogenes said, “Kosmopolites”: a citizen of the world.
No man or woman is foreign to me. It is “we,” not “I” and certainly not “us.” “We,” in our beautiful variety.
But not in this hatred, this fragmentation, Balkanization, tribalism.
That, I will have nothing to do with.
Nothing. To that sort of person, I am a stranger, indeed, and unwelcome in “their” land. By their choice, I am their enemy. Proudly, I am the enemy of any rejection of my brothers and sisters who are perfectly fine as they are, on their paths, working out their divine destinies in their own ways.
I am a stranger in a strange land. I carry my home within me. I break bread with anyone who seeks justice and true peace.
But I would rather eat my crust alone in a hovel than feast in a palace where injustice is worshiped and meaningless, valueless things are declared, selfishly, more valuable than any sacred human being.
Thomas Wolfe, dear brother, lost and gone, but never far from my ear, I remember reading your wild books the first time, raging around that mountain college campus, no one giving a damn, you and I silently trading stories in the catacombs of my soul.
But the trade was mostly one way as you had lived and I was just a cheap 1980s version of a half-drunk Childe Harold and Eugene Gant filled with great sorrows at the ruins of humanity, but equally grandiose visions, hopes, for a future rebuilt on that wreckage.
There was no way back. I had no business where I was, no life, the marrow had been taken from the cracked bones of that place a century before my wayward birth. Wasted. Gold and copper gouged out of the earth, the miners’ families scattered to make do at… whatever.
What was there to remain for?
But I thought “home” lay off and far away, a “someday” as much as “somewhere.”
Thirty-something years would pass before I discovered there is no home here to be found or made, exactly, nothing permanent or even aeviternal. All is flux and fire in this world and this is the world in which I was made to live, to make a life, to share, travel within, to receive. To leave behind.
I am Gershon, a stranger in a strange land, the wanderer, the one who prepares.
Thirty-something years wrong as I could be before that stupidity in me, the haunting ghost of optimism that lingered from childhood, was buried with the whispering corpse of pessimism. Life is here and to be cared for, cherished in all its imperfection — what it amounts to, we’ll see. Neither good or bad, but what can be made of it or endured; what lies beyond is not my business.
My suspicions are that there will be an age of more ruination before anyone cares to build something better again on the wreckage I began to glimpse 33, 34 years back — I will not live to see that. That is my fate; perhaps yours as well, whoever you are. There is no going back — what lies forward may be an even more ridiculous form of ruination.
A petty, greedy, cheap age this turned out to be; gaudy, all surface and shallow as a mirror. Ages such as this come about… they can be the end of civilizations. We’ll see, in this case.
I’m a stranger here, sent to witness and wander. What it will or won’t end up mattering is as much beyond me as HaShem. And in my case, I must become who I must be.
Sleep well, Thomas Wolfe, Byron, Goya, Hogarth, Voltaire, Swift. and so many others close and far — we each play our roles. None small but most unnoticed. How well we pull it off, we’ll see in the long stretch of time and fiery change.
Has Trump screwed the pooch,finally? It appears he’s screwed everything and everyone else with just as little care.
Yes, this version [link below] has all the “dirty words.” You didn’t care about him summoning up every white trash supremacist piece of shit in the country; you did not care he summoned up every neo-Nazi in America AND Europe; you don’t care he hates Muslims; you do not care he hates Latinos; you do not care he hates black people; you do not care he is the most openly racist candidate since Strom Thurmond, if not more so and casually.
He is an authoritarian.
He is in love with dictators, including Putin.
He has elevated conspiracy “theorists” — liars and mythologists –to high levels in his party.
He has destroyed the RNC and converted it nearly completely into a party of White Nationalism.
Mike Pence, the ultra right-wing Conservative Evangelical theocrat, pretends he doesn’t say or do things that are on video and taped — probably so he can run next go ’round, being as opportunistic as Trump. And you were STILL going to vote for this shithead.
But “dirty words” and obvious misogyny — as if we haven’t seen 16 tons of misogyny out of him for 40 years — that’s going to be the “last straw”? I doubt it. I don’t have that much faith in humanity or “white” Americans, to be honest or them who suck up to them.
He’ll fake an apology and you’ll say, “but Bill Clinton” — as if Bill Clinton is up for office in this election, and you’ll say “Hillary is horrible” — as if that’s not the outcome of 35 years of right-wing propaganda mixed with Hillary’s occasional fuck-up… even though, morally and in terms of character and judgment, she’s STILL a paragon of virtue and intelligence when compared with the bully boy in the 70 year-old body.
I hope he doesn’t drop out. I hope he and your worthless white trash party loses, goes on the junk-heap of history, and you conservatives come to your senses. Reform your party. Purge the Tea Party, the nihilists, the Nazis, and go back pre-Goldwater and start all over looking to Eisenhower for something like guidance. Or maybe Lincoln, but, of course, he’s too damn liberal for you, so let’s take it slow.
“There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief “There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth None of them along the line know what any of it is worth”“No reason to get excited,” the thief, he kindly spoke
“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late”
All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too
Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl
There he was. Saw his helicopters coming in to the Quicken Building because, you know, he sleeps in New York, not podunk Cleveland, Ohio. That would not sound sexy enough — that would tarnish the image, sleeping among the commoners, even of the political party he now owns, lock, stock, and two smoking barrels.
I was there on Day Zero, the new beginning, the deformation of the United States of America: Me, down in the streets drawing political cartoons and observational sketches of the goings on, trying to make sense of utter senselessness. Which, of course, is my calling as a philosopher; so I was switching back and forth among three personas — the observer, the theorist, and the satirist. Cleveland, Ohio, a beautiful place with wonderful people, interesting people, most of whom were in hiding or hustling “Hillary for Prison 2016” tee shirts on the sidewalks, not because they believed in that, but because they were going to fleece these sons of bitches for invading their town.
One of the guys I was with said he asked a vendor, a black man, why he was selling those shirts and worse.
“Leave me alone, man,” was the response, “you’ve got your hustle, I’ve got mine.”
“There’s a sucker born every minute” and those RNC conventioneers had “sucker” written all over them. Marks, every last one of them. And you, too, could see that, assuming you tuned in to any of the floor action from the convention. Suckers for believing in the man with the weird hair who helicoptered in and out of the Quicken Center so he did not have to get up close and personal with his filthy flock or run the risk of being questioned by a reporter who may have had the audacity to press him for something more substantive than an off the wall, fact-free assertion or a slogan.
If I heard “build a wall” or “ban all Muslims” or “Make America Safe Again” once that week, I heard it a bloody blue million times. What I did not hear was why those were good things, much less possible things, what they would accomplish, and, certainly, I never heard how it would get done. Those latter things are above the pay grade of the citizen and voter: Trump will just do it.
“Trust me. Trust me,” as he says often and loudly.
Law and Order — you know, like Nixon, and the return of the Silent Majority. Rip-off after rip-off, from Trump’s slogans to Melania’s plagiarized speech. And the suckers don’t care while the rest of you have given up. It doesn’t matter what the man says, truly — it punches the emotional buttons of frightened, angry white people; it keeps him the subject of every news and infotainment program 24 hours a day; it creates a shiny caucasian fantasy of a sparking, brown-free land where “foreigners” do not belong, where everyone is a certain, acceptable form of Evangelical Christian, where “our culture and heritage” are never again tainted by notions from alien sources.
Not that any of these people know any history or are cultured, in any meaningful sense. Or else they’d know the strength of Western culture at its best was always that it would borrow and absorb ideas and beliefs from anywhere, adjust itself, correct itself. That it was revitalized and saved by the Moors of Al-Andalus who preserved Greek learning for the world and a better form of mathematics and science and medicine. Those Moors, black people, Muslim, reached the heights of civilized life and rescued, made possible… a future worthy of humans.
“Ban all Muslims” indeed.
These people know nothing of The Enlightenment that once fought to rescue humanity from superstition, religious enthusiasm, monarchical absolutism and despotism. They know nothing of the hard-won Western value of “tolerance,” or the establishment of “human rights.” They know nothing of Voltaire’s 18th c. war on “being put to the question” — torture, in other words — or the real meaning of his battle cry, “Ecrasez l’Infame!”
“Torture the terrorists, even harsher this time!”
Law and Order. Make America Safe Again. Build the wall.
He’s got his hustle, too, this Donald J. Trump.
By all appearances, he is a human, an all-too-human human. But look closely and you will see what has become clearer to me over the preceding months, finally confirmed on the streets of Cleveland.
Trump is an empty space, a vacuum, a back hole. An ink blot and, so, a walking Rorschach Test. That’s the man’s interior — there is nothing meaningful in itself there at all. There never has been. He has no belief in anything of value beyond himself… whom he does not value enough to wonder at. He believes in appearances, in gaudy material things, in the trophy wives, in his brand, “TRUMP,” which, for a nominal service fee can be and has been pasted on anything. Because, in itself, it means nothing, stands for nothing, is nothingness.
The secret of Donald Trump is not that the emperor has no clothes; it’s worse: The emperor isn’t even really there. He is a nihilist. Power for the sake of power, attention for the sake of attention — that’s his activity, his function.
He is a black ink splatter and you see in him whatever you project.
For the neo-Nazi, for the Klansman, for David Duke, for the white people afraid the Age of the White People is drawing to a close, he is a neo-Nazi, a Klansman, a reflection of David Duke’s life-long fantasies; he is the savior of racist, white, Evangelical Christian America.
For the greedy, the money-hungry, or the working aspirant to the higher classes he is “financial success,” he is “the art of the deal,” he is “the rebirth of the American Dream.” No, his record bears none of this out, sketchy as it is. But reality is not the point; it’s that Trump has become all things to all men because he, in his depths, stands for nothing in particular. He is happy to seem to be whomever or whatever you wish… just as is a Rorschach Test.
For the Tea Party, he is a weird, irreconcilable mix of libertarianism and protectionism and the confusion of church with state. He is the promised reaction to LGBTQ rights, the final judgment on Socialized Medicine — both extensions of justice and human rights, long overdue. And which don’t fully exist here, but he’ll make certain they go away, nonetheless. Because you are throwing your fears into that black center and he echoes them back to you, only louder.
On the streets of Cleveland I witnessed a carnival without the fun, a carnival of incivility and anger, a celebration of laughing hatred and monstrous beliefs. Halloween minus the holiness, all tricks and precious few treats. Dueling bullhorns blaring unadulterated bullshit. Hope that hopelessness will tear this entire nation into warring groups, each thinking Trump supports them, each utterly incorrect.
Not that, given power, he won’t step back and allow each hateful, fearful group to have their orgy of violence and exclusion… all the better to ignore dear Trump as he lives it up on the public dole and commands the airwaves to say whatever will fill up the otherwise empty 24/7 news cycles.
That’s worked for him so far; until it doesn’t, he’ll keep it up.
He’ll get his attention, make his narcissist’s sociopathic pronouncements, build the financial value of his brand, “TRUMP,” and then cash it all in and leave us an ungovernable, uncooperative shambles.
Perhaps he will go live with Putin whom, today, he openly encouraged to spy on the Democratic Party. Crooked as Nixon was, he at least was ashamed enough to keep his treasonous, illegal, immoral activities hidden. Trump couldn’t and does not have the capacity to steal the microscopic shred of conscience that barely lived within Richard Nixon — because that would require him to stand for something beyond his own empty self. No, he just takes the slogans: Law and Order, Silent Majority.
Empty words. Emptiness emerging from his dark emptiness.
And you’ve missed it. The media misunderstood they were being used and played like a cheap piano.
Spain Rodriguez — Agent of Something Better That Never Happened
Once upon a time, 40 years ago now, in a world long gone, I was 10 years old.
Being unsupervised by adults, something I now thank G-d for, this ten year-old kid wandered the streets of a very small and small-minded Appalachian town. His mind, relatively uncontaminated by the surrounding ideo-sphere, wondered as much as he wandered: where did this come from, why are things as they are and not some other way, how did I get here, how can I get out, who should I be?
It was that wondering and questioning that made the ten year-old kid a weirdo, a stranger in a strange land, even in his hometown. And, like Steve Earle taught us, nothing will bring you down like your hometown. And that boy’s hometown was in overdrive to bring him down and keep him there — well, not so much him specifically (he was not that special and the world is not arranged around him, positively or negatively), but people akin to him. People who question, people who look for answers to uncomfortable questions… and all genuine questions are right uncomfortable for them that well fit in.
People who make other people uncomfortable, especially when very young and alone, tend to get the shit kicked out of them literally and metaphorically. So they go looking for refuge and allies and that child-on-the-verge-of-having-to-grow-up-really-quickly used to hang out at the saving grace of that town: the college.
Lo, and the college had a library well-stocked with classics, which he’d get into later, art books, which he began to explore, and some pretty hip titles — one of which turned out to be Les Daniels’ Comix: A History of Comic Books in America. Long story short, it was in those pages that our disaffected anti-hero discovered Underground Comix and their historical context… and the concept of “historical context.”
Where it would have been easy to fall for Robert Crumb’s art and humor — it isn’t as if the kid didn’t — the artist that really held his imagination and got his attention was Spain Rodriguez and his character Tashman, Agent of the Sixth International. Well, there was Trash — the kid wished he looked half as cool as that and understood what all this talk of revolution was about — and Trashman was there putting a knife through the neck of some futuristic Neo-Nazi SS son of a bitch.
“Wait! Didn’t we kill the Nazis?” the kid wondered.
At age 50, I now know we did not kill fascism or Nazism. We just barely managed to stomp the shit out of the vermin who espoused those beliefs the first go ’round and the beliefs still floated around even in that world the child was sent to live within — that was part of the problem with the closed-minded town he was in; he just didn’t understand at the time.
Yes, obviously I get it now. Thanks, in part, to Spain and his comix as I managed to discover more of them as I grew older and had opportunity to lay hands on them. I sit here now watching cops shoot black people, round up latinos, the for-profit slave prisons bulging with the incarcerated poor while Donald Trump does his best Mussolini impersonation and Ted Cruz whines his paranoid right-wing theocratic Nazi tunes for enthusiastic audiences who just don’t know any fucking better. And the RNC is starting to demand loyalty oaths from the voters who wish to participate in “their” primaries.
Seig heil, motherfuckers.
Where’s Trashman now that the future arrived?
Well, Marxism isn’t going to cut it — but Spain’s not here to disagree because he died. Marx had many damn fine ideas and his critique of the labor theory of value strikes me as having a great deal of truth. But Marx-ISM, like every other form of ISM is as dead as Spain — worse, ISMs ruin nearly everyone that gets sucked into them. But that’s a bete noir for a different day, gentle readers.
But the symbolic idea of resistance to evil that Trashman represents… there’s the crux of the biscuit. Spain’s generation, not Spain himself, but that generation, sold out back in the ’80s. And so, here we are. The only “revolution” that happened was the Reagan Revolution and that flushed the rest of us down the toilet, down, down into the sewers to scrape a living doing the muck work for low pay that the Boomers suck up in the form of stock investments and rent and lending. “I got mine. Fuck you!”
Spain remains one of my heroes artistically and intellectually because he genuinely hoped and worked for something far better and stood the test of time and the temptations of sheer ambition. Go look him up; this isn’t Wikipedia. Or better, just read his work and look at that powerful, expressionistic art. He died like he lived: with his motorcycle boots on. You can’t ask for much better than that.
And he influenced and fascinated a nobody kid in a nowhere town who grew up to be a philosopher, an artist, an essayist, and a damn troublemaker. Thank G-d and thank Spain Rodriguez for being there when I needed to find him.