Manufacturing Dissent Since 1996
New interviews throughout the week

Moment of Truth: January 28 2017


The Marriage of Schlock And Augustus

Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.

Imagine you are an ape, living in a vineyard with your small tribe. The grapes growing there are ripe and sweet. Humans have not been seen in these parts for several months. The weather is warm. Are you not delighted?

This is just one of the mental exercises you can employ to rejuvenate and salve your spirit after catching a glimpse of the Thing currently occupying the office of President of the United States.

It happens. You've done your best not to think about it, but it's impossible to avoid an inadvertent reminder now and then that one of schlock-capitalism's most grotesque abominations is right now operating inside the Oval Office – inside one of the most august theatrical settings in our governmental drama – scribbling his shitty signature on morally deformed executive orders like he runs the joint.

It's a jolt to the system to see him there, that weird-ass bullshit piece of shit, with his shitty suit and shitty hair and his puckered ruined horrible face, warped by decades of being wrapped over a tiny, hard little pea-gravel crumb of a soul. Watching him meeting with GOP Senators, as little respect as I have for that bunch, is nevertheless jarring, like walking in on a grumpy cat in a dunce cap using your hotel room toilet.

One of the foundational principles of our government, it always seemed to me, was that the President was to be considered a human being, a citizen among citizens, not a special human being, but a normal human being, not a nobleman, not an aristocrat, not a monarch invested with Divine Right. That he was nevertheless accorded a colonial slave-built mansion with its own bowling alley and other luxuries came off, at least to me, as counter to the egalitarian spirit of the social mission of the USA.

Having so self-indoctrinated, I'd believed myself immune to feelings of undue respect for the office per se. Respect for the man occupying the office could be earned through respectable behavior, but there was nothing particularly sacred about the seal, the desk, the office, the house. Those were only worthy of respect as the accoutrements of a respect-worthy man inhabiting them.

Richard Nixon brought disgrace to his office, but even so, he never seemed unworthy of actually sitting at the desk. It was just a desk. He wore a suit and tie, like any other desk-sitting person. He was a bad president, a mass-murderer, a paranoid, drunken, opportunistic, unscrupulous, vindictive, foul-mouthed, spiteful bigot, but in relation to the props, sets and costumes of the President, he merely leant his personal dishonor to them, merely mishandled them.

Seeing this current lump of filth swamping about in that environment, though, is another story altogether. There are some people who, by their inherent nature, are a visual insult to certain environments. A fur-clad, hairy-shouldered Visigoth gnawing a leg of mutton is perfectly in harmony at a malodorous pre-medieval banquet in whatever kind of rude celebration hall their revels were held. But he would look damn odd doing his mutton-gnawing at a late-night comedy show in a dingy bar. His belches, growls and slurping, bits of mutton splashing into the air, would disturb the few dissolute souls gathered. They might even wonder if the Visigoth weren't part of the performance, or even doing a separate performance altogether, competing with the heavy-set thirty-something brunette on stage engaged in droning on about her recent failures in a twelve-step program and her girlfriend's many comical suicide attempts.

You might have little sympathy for the standup comic. You might hate the bartender on sight. You might have little respect for the bar. You might have no respect at all for the clientele. But the intrusion of an anachronistic barbarian flinging saliva and gristle about the place would nevertheless, to your surprise, seem to have robbed the tavern of a dignity you were previously unaware it possessed.

There were once two United States of America: the schlocky freakshow going by the Orwellian name of "reality television," and the more dignified world of real humans trying to live their lives. Whether a house cleaner or an emergency room technician or a schoolteacher or, yes, even a President of the United States, all were part of this latter world. Even the blowhard fascist pundit might encounter real-world troubles, such as having to be hospitalized for opiate addiction, and achieve a bit of that real- world dignity most of us in everyday life inhabit all the time.

There are actual things of the Earth, and we touch them. We eat apples. We hammer nails. We feed babies. We grow crops. We deliver mail. We help people having difficulties as best we can.

But the abomination machinery, the factories of schlock capitalism, turn people into sickening, debased competitors for garbage crowns and rubbish scepters. Anyone who thrives in such an environment is a joke, a sick joke, unworthy of God's own sunshine, because their behavior demonstrates that they don't value sunshine except as a cosmetic to give their skin a deeper tone. Those who win the most in that realm are those who least deserve our sympathy, our empathy, or our trust. They sell their dignity daily to surround themselves with trophies plated with valueless metal and sparkly nodules.

Now, the leader of the world of schlock capitalism has also become the leader of one of the most prestigious aspects of real life. The two worlds have become one. And they don't go together like peanut butter and chocolate. They go together like a hummingbird and a butthole. Like a blade of grass and a shattered skull. Like homemade bread and vampires feasting on each other's viscera.

Maybe it was time for this, to put aside the pretense that these were two separate worlds. In arrogating himself to the Presidency, Trump reveals both his own unworthiness of public courtesy, let alone respect, as well as the depths to which our ship of state has sunk. The masks are off of both worlds. We made our democracy into a home for a garbage king, and lo and behold a garbage king has come to sit on the throne we've fashioned for him. And this contest winner, winner of the garbage king contest, has made of our democracy a shit palace, a fit court for such a throne.

He's only been in office for a week, but he's already put his cheap, obnoxious stink on everything. It's everywhere. Everything stinks. Because of him. But wasn't it inevitable that this type of individual would eventually weasel our society's most prestigious award for himself? And wipe his clammy palm juice all over it, and ruin it forever?

There was a thing once called the "Post-Watergate Morality." Watergate was one of the many times our nation lost its innocence. Somehow our cherry keeps growing back, and perfidious individuals come along and pop it again. Somehow, we were shocked that our President could stoop to the tactics of a petty bully, even though we ourselves had elected Richard Nixon. No wonder Forrest Gump and Gomer Pyle are so totemic to us as representatives of our national character. There will, no doubt, be a Post-Trump Morality, or a Post-Trump Society. Yet more scales have fallen from our eyes. Who knew we had so many eye scales?

We are seeing a new, uglier aspect of the truth, which is why it's so difficult to look at. It's like the first time you see the innards of a person. I knew a kid who was terrified because he had a skeleton inside him. Skeletons were scary! Skeletons were monsters! But he got used to it.

In truth, this is where we've lived all along. We've always treated at least some of our people the way Trump treats people, and we even treated great masses of white people that way during the Depression. We've always had the potential and the power to treat a portion of our citizens or denizens as less than human, and until we root out that potential, until we institute checks on those powers as cleverly as the Founding Fathers contrived to balance the branches of state, we're going to keep waking up having lost our virginity to national nightmares of our own making.

We have not made the reins of leadership unattractive to people of lousy character. We need to do that. We need institutions that discourage greed, dishonesty, shameless self-promotion, domination, brutality, excessive ownership, control over human beings, shows of force, weaseling out of responsibility, circumventing laws, disrespect for those who need help, disrespect for anyone or anything that can't defend itself from conquest. Instead we reward all those things. That's our system. It's pretty evident now that all of those negative qualities are incentives in our culture because they are inherent to capitalism, which allows patriarchal white Christian supremacy to use those negative incentives to maintain power.

Imagine you are a wood sprite, living in a fragrant forest of lilacs and day lilies, eating puffballs and morels, riding tiny deer, playing naked Twister with the other little sprites, who are all just as adorable as you are, singing from the Wood Sprite Songbook until the wee hours, under the moonlight, pleasantly drunk on daffodil nectar. Are you not delighted?

This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!


Moment of Truth


Share Tweet Send