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MOMENT OF TRUTH

Posted by Alexander Jerri

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

On Tucker Carlson’s show, Donald Dump, the would-be dictator, or, more formally, would-be penis potato, asserted that public excretion of human waste only began when he took office. This is a man ostensibly from New York City, long known for such street fragrances. He said it in the midst of producing a muesli of nonsense phrases. The comical thing was Tucker nodding and grunting in agreement, as if to say, “Right, that’s exactly when I started pissing on the streets. I think we all did. Yeah, yeah, George Soros paid us to do it.”

And then I realized – November 9, 2016 – that is in fact the date when I took my vow of public urination and defecation. I started pooping and peeing all over my neighborhood, as if I had no respect for myself or anyone else. It’s inappropriate and disgraceful, but, like incontinent fascist Tucker Carlson, I can’t help myself.

Astrocracy: rule by the stars. Not rule by asses, that’s any rule. And not rule by astro-crock, though it is a crock of magical thinking, much like the principle that ruthless, unbridled greed will somehow benefit the many rather than just the few. And put an end to poverty, which is a sick joke on us. Capitalism requires that a visible percentage of the would-be work force be in brutal poverty. Out of one crock into another crock. Actually, it’ll be the same crock. Either way, there are thousands upon thousands of people living on the street, right here in the most wealthy and spiritually airheaded nation on Earth, and that won’t change until we somehow un-brainwash ourselves from our radical capitalist indoctrination, and of course our worship of Disney magic, which I’ll get to later.

The advent of the reality TV president has of course led, inevitably, to the appearance of the flaky New Age self-help entrepreneur/guru as prospective nominee. I’m not saying that idiot has a chance in hell of becoming president, but after 2016, hell is apparently not the worst place to locate your chances. If you’re an idiot.

Do I belittle Marianne Williamson? With her prescription of solving the world’s problems with unicorn flatulence and echinacea enemas? Oh, by all means, I do belittle her. Is it sexist for me to do so? I feel the same way about Deepak Chopra, Bikram Choudry, Tony Robbins, Dr. Oz, any number of snake-oil life coaches and faith-healers of body and soul, the whole menu of Astrotwats. The astrotwat industry does aid predatory men while it takes the money of mostly women. I don’t know why. Probably because we haven’t progressed much as a society, regarding inequality of all kinds, especially patriarchal hegemony, since back when gullible women were mocked for buying into Ouija boards, seances, Swedenborg and Mesmer. This misogynist stereotype comes down to us from the age of whalebone corsets and hasn’t altered much, if at all, on the journey.

So, yes, I think of Marianne Williamson as Lady Bracknell with a physical trainer, crystals, a laptop, a copy of “The Secret,” and an MBA. But that’s not the worst I think of her.

She’s a practitioner of über-capitalist con-artistry of the type that gave us the instant blood- sample analyzer, the Fyre Festival, Elon Musk as civic savior, Bill Gates as philanthropic saboteur of the public education system, and Steve Jobs as Jesus Christ. Not that she’s not sincere. No con artist is as effective as the one who believes her own con.

We’ve got to destroy this magical thinking. It may seem cruel, like killing Bambi or refusing to clap for Tinkerbell, but we’re only hurting ourselves by remaining in thrall to the deification of Disney. We must wean ourselves from Disney magic. It’s an opioid of the people.

It really shouldn’t be that hard. Mickey Mouse is the most generic POS character ever created. He’s nothing. He has no traits. He’s doesn’t have urges, except perhaps to get married and have a small suburban house with a white picket fence. And a dog, and a Kramer-esque friend who’s also somehow a dog. He’s got no ethnicity, and you know what that means: he’s white. He’s a white mouse in blackface. Disney invented the anodyne minstrel show. He invented racism for the millions. Racism for everyone! A racist black caricature even black people can love! Where Al Jolson failed, Mickey Mouse has triumphed.

But rationalism sure can’t save us. Human beings don’t operate rationally. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were some decent standard-bearers for the rational. Now, Harry Houdini used to go around exposing spiritualist frauds. In place of him we have Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, two of the most disagreeable rationalists around, who can’t even escape from a safe submerged in water, much less from the chains that bind their imaginations. As much as I would love for an asteroid to arrive and crush Williamson, I’d like to crush the religion-baiting atheists personally with an anvil dropped from an upper-story window. Like a cartoon! A Disney cartoon! Hoist with your own cartoon. You Disneyland fascists. You’re all Disneyland fascists, the Swedenborgian spiritualists and the rigid rationalists alike. Worthless, worthless, adding nothing but bland minstrelsy to the public discourse.

The process by which these clowns infiltrated our political process is obvious. Not that we didn’t have clowns before, but they were a slightly better class of clown. The clowns now are clearly buying their way through the filter. The filter that is supposed to sift out the fecal particulates. Ah, that filter never worked so well, anyway. It’s just that, you were supposed to... I don’t know, let’s just scrap this system that allows clowns to rule us, and start over. Reboot.

Nancy Reagan was an Astrocrat, and she was piloting the ship of state while Reagan was sliding down the slippery slope of dementia. Steering a course by the stars. There’s something romantic in that, isn’t there? Is it really so bad to guide the ship of state by celestial signposts? Is it any worse than what we each do every day literally with our GPS? Is it any worse than voting for any other run-of-the-mill rich person, or rich person’s tool, who has no incentive to solve the problems of ecological destruction, war, poverty, persecution, and hunger? Yes and no!

We’ve always had captains who say, You can’t have this, you can’t have that. You can’t have peace. You can’t have plenty. You can’t have justice. You can’t have freedom. You can’t even have an end to slavery. The system’s endgame is to make each of us the property of someone. I’ve been watching it happen since the 70s, because I’ve only been a conscious being since then. I’m sure the process began long before I was born.

The time will come when we will have our say. We’ll say, “Captain, we don’t accept your explanation of why we can’t have these things. The founding documents promise these things. The mythos and ethos of our society promise these things. We demand them now. Not later. Now. Feed the starving. House the homeless. Stop mutilating the weak. Stop sucking all the wealth off the street. Stop thwarting democracy. Stop destroying the Earth, and your rationalizing about why we can’t save it. We don’t believe you, and we won’t stand for it. We will smash you with our asteroids and anvils unless you shape up.”

The celestials were never our friends. Ask the ancients, who really knew them. They could, with one gesture, lend you luck, and then just as capriciously snatch it away. The only surefire way to go – which the Athenians tried to do but never could – is to live by the paraphrased advice of the bumper sticker: “Stop making stupid people president!”

This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!


Posted by Alexander Jerri

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

I didn’t watch the Democratic debate, part 1. I decided I’d prefer to catch up the next day,  piecing the event together from memes on Twitter. Find out what the jokes are and mentally  reverse engineer them to build a vague impression of the inciting incidents. Because everyone knows that, whatever members of the Twublic are making the most persistent jokes about, that’s what will be setting the larger public’s nerves vibrating throughout the news cycle. 

The first meme I encountered was Beto speaking Spanish, while the camera slowly dollied in on Cory Booker’s amusingly taken-aback face, looking wide-eyed and side-eyed at Beto, as the Curb Your Enthusiasm theme played. I love those Curb memes. I hate to see the passing of the Sad Trombone, but the Curb theme says so much more. It says your discomfort is comically petty, yet at the same time there’s something serious, perhaps even sexually threatening, underlying it. Something transgressive, maybe fatal. Maybe you, on whom the camera is dollying in, have transgressed, and been exposed, if only to yourself, or perhaps your perturbation is due to a transgression on the part of the person you are observing, whose words or actions are causing your comical expression, a transgression of which only you, with your particular knowledge or singularly-informed pettiness, can understand the full significance. 

And, of course, the entire situation is a comment on the myriad shallow frustrations of contemporary life. It conveys a comical disgrace far more fraught than any sad trombone can express, or indeed any morose, put out, or discomfited member of the brass section. Larry David has given post-modernism its last great cultural gift. That is, late post-modernism. The worst kind of post-modernism, a used-up post-modernism, worn like a groove in a broken record, to put things in a vinyl idiom. A post-modernism completely out of ideas. A post-modernism sorely in need of cultural gifts. Thank you, Larry. 

Booker’s face as he observes Beto’s Spanish soliloquy says it all. “Oh no he di’n’t. That white boy did not just take the reins of the people-of-color bandwagon with his fluent Tex/Mexspañol.” Don’t worry, Cory, we all know what’s going on. We’re watching. We know Beto is only barely even an honorary Latino, with all the white privilege of a rebel-punk-rocker-in-his-youth suburbanite. But admit it, anyone on that stage is privileged, so why the hell shouldn’t Beto swagger outside the white lines on the electoral discourse freeway? Burn all the fuel you have in this debate, this is your one chance, the world ends tomorrow. Or soon. Next phase: Thunderdome. And then Fury Road. “Deedle-ee-deet dee deedle-ee-deet, dee deet dee-dee, dee-deet-dee deedle-ee-deet dee deedle-ee-deet dee-dee, boom boom.” It’s that tympani at the end that really sells it, as if there’s a bowel disturbance in the psychic pants of the distressed subject. That’s all of us, Cory. We’re soiling our drawers along with you. Not at you. 

I could just leave it at that. What more do I need to know? Well, I need to know how Elizabeth Warren did. Remember, she’s the standard-bearer of anti-corporate rhetoric on this Day One of the debates. It sounds from all account fragments like she acquitted herself quite well. If the Nazi twitterati were at all upset, it didn’t register during the time I was exposed to the twitmosphere.

Even Ann Coulter, that orthopedic catastrophe, the right’s pseudo-intellectual Famine Horseman of the Apocalypse, whom one used to be able to count on for truly asinine comments on the regular, could only muster a backhanded compliment about Warren having a nice complexion for someone so old. There’s little doubt that, seeing the spectre of The Reaper beckoning on the horizon, Coulter is vainly hoping to bank some good will against the day when she will be wishing for exactly such a grudging compliment from the enemy quarter. 

And then there was the tweet, “boring,” from our ever-articulate bladder-in-chief. Supposedly he tweeted it around the time the border atrocities were being discussed. Children abducted, caged, mistreated, neglected, how boring. 

The camera dollies in on Bernie Sanders, played by Larry David, aghast but helpless, as the toilet-enthroned orator, off-camera, prattles on about how much he cares about everyone, how no one loves children more than he does, and they love him, too, more maybe than any other people do, believe me, children adore me, this is really all about humane, the humane, a humane immigration policy. Boom boom, oh, god, you know what that tympani means. 

The last vibration I felt was the sentiment that Warren needs to pick a centrist running mate, and the best choices would be Kamilla Harris or Julián Castro, the latter because he’s a real Latino, unlike Beto. It would perfectly balance the ticket for almost all the Democratic voting base, fractured as they are along lines of identity politics, class consciousness, intersectional resentment, nihilistic rage, and fear of change – divided as those overlapping factions are between rebuilding the broken and bleeding system and putting a few Band-aids and some glue on it. 

“Deedle-ee-deet dee deedle-ee-deet, dee deet dee-dee, dee-deet-dee deedle-ee-deet dee deedle- ee-deet dee-dee, boom boom.”

That Cory Booker Curb Your Enthusiasm meme is exquisite. It’s sublime. It holds everything about the current condition of the Democrats in its grasp, yet holds it lightly, the way Koko the gorilla held her kitten. If the Democratic Party were smart, or if they were to stop smarting from the 2016 disaster and become smart enough to stop outsmarting themselves, they would use it as their campaign slogan for 2020: “Curb Your Enthusiasm – Vote Democrat.” Believe it or not, there are a lot of rightwingers who love that show. You could pull them into the tent. “Oh, hell yes, I’m voting for the self-hating Jew Larry David party.” 

It’s a sarcastic yet sincere call to arms: Curb Your Enthusiasm, it’s the Democrats(!) It would definitely be the necessary slogan for a Joe Biden candidacy: Curb Your Enthusiasm, don’t get excited, don’t get your hopes up. Simmer down. Sober up. 

Boom boom. 

 

This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day! 


Posted by Alexander Jerri

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

After decades of failing to perfect it, humans still can’t admit that artificial intelligence is pretty stupid. Artificial intelligence is about as intelligent as artificial flowers are floral or artificial fruit is fruity. My favorite thing about humans trying to create artificial intelligence is our penchant for denial. We’re great at denying that things are going terribly wrong. Witness our reaction to global warming.

Have you seen HBO’s Chernobyl? All the young Stalinists today are calling it “anti-Soviet propaganda,” as if propaganda were necessary to find a totalitarian thought-policing bureaucracy unpalatable. Anyway, whether it hews to reality or not, it’s a great story of idiots in denial finally brought face-to-face with their hubris of thinking they can control technology.

Now, I don’t want to be a knee-jerk alarmist. People are so worried about artificial intelligence controlling us. I notice no one is worried about artificial legs walking all over us, or dentures biting us to death. And, listen, we’re going to need artificial intelligence as our natural intelligence rots and falls off. Which it seems to have been doing forever. You know who thought so? Seneca. Or Cicero. One of those bastards. Diogenes!

But we must recognize when enough is sufficient.

I saw a video of a robot being hit by humans with rods, wobbling a bit unsteadily but regaining its stability, taking the rods away from its assailants, then threatening to thrash them if they tried to attack again. One woman’s comment to this video, “Can we stop being mean to robots?” My comment, “Can we stop improving robots?” Because people act like it’s inevitable that robots are going to get more agile and effective. It’s not inevitable. We can say, “I don’t want to live in that Black Mirror episode where the robot dogs hunt people down. Don’t build those!”

It’s not whether you can think your way out of the paper bag, it’s with what style you get out of the paper bag, and what origami shape you fold the leftover bag into. Wait, no it’s not. It’s best to avoid getting trapped in the paper bag in the first place.

Think about the Turing test. Just think about it. There, you’ve already done more than the Turing test requires from a computer. All the Turing test requires is that a person not be able to tell whether they’re have a conversation with another person or with a computer. I think Turing would agree at this point that it’s a stupid test. Writing a program that mimics one side of a conversation turns out to be a completely different effort from creating an artificial mind. Turing himself always suspected his friends of being elaborate computer simulations, so he wouldn’t have been a reliable judge of the Turing test. The jury is still out on whether he would have been able to judge the Bechdel-Turing test, in which the point is to write a computer program able to convince a woman she’s having a conversation with another woman about something besides a man.

I have three points here: 1, the ability to create an electronic mind that can do what the human mind does is beyond us; 2, our mediocre attempts to do so will produce nightmarish results which our public policy authorities will deem acceptable; and 3, we have the choice not to go down this pathway of doom into the black forest of monstrous horror.

Point 1, We can’t even create an electronic chicken mind, let alone a human one. There’s nothing sacred about the human mind that prevents us. We simply don’t know what a mind is. 10,000 years or so of hanging around with the current model and we still can’t describe it, where it comes from, what it does, and how it does it. We don’t know where consciousness comes from. We don’t know what dreams do or why we need them. When it comes to creating even a model of the mind, we’re superstitious primates making images of gods out of mud. So, that’s point 1. We don’t even know why it’s such a difficult thing to understand, but it might have something to do with the fact that the thing we’re using to try to understand it is the thing itself. It might not be the right tool for the job.

Point 2, pretending our failure is success will lead to trouble. Take facial recognition software. It has trouble doing its one job, recognizing faces, particularly those of non-white people. This leads to all kinds of problems, one of which is injustice. Now, for most of our history, our justice systems have led to injustice. They’re very flawed. We know this, yet we continue to be shocked when someone like Ava DuVernay illustrates the flaws of our justice system in a streaming docu-drama. The only way bad artificial intelligence could make our justice system worse is by creating more injustice in it than we already currently tolerate. We can only foresee this: artificial intelligence, or our version of it, which we can confidently call “artificial stupidity,” will lead to previously unimagined opportunities for new, more thrillingly Kafkaesque, miscarriages of justice resulting in people being imprisoned, made to suffer, and put to death in novel situations marked by capricious cyberpunk cruelty. Our time-honored tolerance for our own society’s hypocrisy and inhumanity will really be put to the test.

Point 3, we have a choice. We think we don’t, but we do. After centuries of coming up with new ideas to make money, or profitable misery, we have come to assume that no one likes to put the genie back in the bottle, or the toothpaste back in the tube. “Look at the pretty genie,” we say, or, “look at all the sparkly toothpaste!” But recently some lunatic in China used Crispr gene editing technology to create genetically altered twin human beings. And the genie-bottle rubbers stopped rubbing their genitalia long enough to say, “Whoa. Not cool, dude.”

There was blanket medical and scientific condemnation from around the world. I like to imagine that this is the first shove to move the capitalist reflex off its pedestal, the reflex of developing every technology as soon it appears in the hopes of becoming the next rich person made of 99% perspiration. You know, people made of that much perspiration are bound to have some glandular issues.

The recent recognition that some types of technology are too immoral to pursue makes me irrationally exuberant. Yeah, we don’t need to capitalize on that new thing! It’s going to put the wrong people in prison, it’s going to put people out of work, it’s going to destroy irreplaceable manifestations of non-human creativity like forests and oceans, it’s going to create unintended genetic defects in our experimental subjects, like turning them into 100% perspiration, so we are going to choose not to pursue that activity. We are going to consider the consequences before they happen, which is how we tell our children to approach things like drugs or potentially dangerous behavior. We will be able to point to concrete examples. Yes, kids, we’ll say, we split the atom because we could, we dropped the bomb, we nearly China syndromed an entire continent, but when it came time to make mutant children in a lab, or robot policemen, or robot witnesses, or robot juries and judges, we used our common sense and said, No, we’re not going to go there. We have more sense than that. Our lives are about more than finding the next iPhone. Our lives are worth more than someone else’s ability to profit or some magical thinking about wealth concentration improving the economy for everyone. We are the human species and we will take control of our destiny. To the best of our ability.

This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!


Posted by Alexander Jerri

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

This is going to be a mere sliver of the mansion of love and mourning and celebration and remembering that the world’s people who knew Danny Thompson are revisiting right now and will probably carry on revisiting forever. My sliver. And it’s okay if this is only a small fragment of the lore and legacy of Danny E’ward Beano Q. Slotkins Esteban Vincente Harriett Beecher Stowe Thompson.

I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention to the Theater Oobleck extended family social media reverberations, but we lost the father and scientist and friend and advisor and brother and stylist and baby and craftsman of us all, Danny Thompson, to a freak genetic ailment. On Monday night I heard he was in the hospital, awaiting a new liver, but in no danger, and on Tuesday morning I woke up to an email to the Oobleck core company members group saying he had died. Mickle Maher was crying. I barely got out of bed that day. Death had to take him quick, I thought at one particularly stupid moment, because with more time he’d have figured out a way to escape the Dumb Reaper. That Reaper is a bozo. He’s not as good a chess player as he’s reputed to be, either. He’s not even grim, he’s just an asshole.

If you don’t know what you’ve lost, world, you’ve lost plenty. You’ve lost everything. You think this is an exaggeration. How wrong you are. Danny Thompson lived as he liked, and loved as he wished, and was just the all-around master of creative flow.

I met him in Ferndale, in high school, although I don’t think he was in high school anymore by the time I met him. Anyway, he went to a different high school than I did, when he did. I met him when I was in high school, but when he wasn’t in a different high school. I remember him having a car, a big powder blue muscle car with weird chrome ornamental spheres embedded in the hood. It had a Winnebago engine in it, he said. His mother’s boyfriend, Dan, was an auto- mechanic. Danny’s good friend Tony Rowe was a hybrid Native American who had been dishonorably discharged from the army. He’d been stationed in Korea patrolling the DMZ and had punched his CO and broken his jaw. They allowed him to avoid prison if he gave up all his veteran’s benefits. This is how I remember it. And Tony had a friend, Roy. And I’m not sure if Dan, or Tony, or Roy, or someone altogether else had put that Winnebago engine in that car, but apparently it was in there.

Then I saw him at that different high school, in an excerpt from a play, as Beadle Bumble, with my other friend Danny, Danny Baron, who is now my writing partner, and there I first saw Danny Thompson’s miraculous physicality. He could be graceful and patrician. His hands could be anything. He could be anything. As I say, he wasn’t in high school anymore, but he hung around to be in theater. At around that time, he told me that, in the original production of Peer Gynt, they’d flooded an amphitheater to stage a naval battle. I may have that wrong. Or he may have had. Anyway, yes, he hung around Ferndale High School even after graduating, to participate in the theater, much as he did later in Ann Arbor, long after he’d stopped attending classes at University of Michigan.

Danny was from Bon Aqua, Tennessee. Let me tell this my way. I never met his father, who was a fiddle player, who for a while played with Hank “Bocephus” Williams, Jr. His mother, Dolly, was the sweetest human being, even sweeter than Danny, and Danny got a large share of her sweetness. He took me home from college once for Christmas. Dolly is responsible for my eating my first ever Christmas ham. I think that accounts for me enjoying so much eating ham years later, in Chicago, at theater critic Tony Adler and his wife Beth’s Whitmanstide parties. Or maybe, like many other Ooblecks, I just liked free ham. Or maybe it was just me that liked the free ham. I’ll always associate that first Christmas, and that first Christmas ham, with Christmas, and I always try to have a good Christmas because of it.

Danny Danny Danny Thompson. This is for you, Till Eulenspiegel! How can I go on without you? How can the universe go on? You were always latent in it, you emerged and made it yours, and now you’ve gone from it. What function can it possibly serve now, greater than to bring you to us?

Later, Dolly married her boyfriend Dan, in a wedding at the VFW hall, and all the Ooblecks were invited. As the bride and groom stood at the altar, Dolly’s brother came in, in overalls, bare feet, and a shotgun, playing the hillbilly, and hollered, “Where’s that short-legged man’s s’posed to marry my sister?”

Then we had all the food and danced around and around to the polka band. It was one of the biggest of hoots. It was a wonderful day.

Danny made plays and poems and could do any movement, make any gesture, and make any noise; he made paintings and drawings and sculptures and collage films and collage sculptures and noise collages and radio plays. He cooked country ribs. He loved opera. The first poem of his I read was “Sewer Church On Sunday, Weasel Death On Monday.”

He was passionately involved in every facet of the theater. Per theater artist, David Isaacson:

Danny's perfectionism was legend. Oh the late nights potchky-ing over the "Anywhere Else Than Here Today" set, or some costume or prop or video collage! Hey, it's 15 minutes to curtain, where is Abby Sher's burlap dress for Antistasia? Ah, Danny shows up with it, having cleaned it, fixed it, restored it to perfect burlap-ness.

He invented cocktails. He toured the British Isles with his and Greg Allen’s parodic, saturnalian faux Beckett plays. He played Ben Johnson opposite me as Shakespeare in Edward Bond’s “Bingo.” Again, David Isaacson:

Over the years, I cast Danny as Roberto Rossellini, Vaclav Havel, Bill Clinton, and Jean- Paul Sartre. It was not just that he could do "voices" (though omigosh, he could, he was an astounding mimic); he inhabited those roles. They were caricatures, in a sense, but never reductive caricatures. They were caricatures that revealed a deeper humanity and truth, like Daumier caricatures.

He finally nested into love with Meredith Neuman, who among other things is a pastry chef and a Japan scholar and a professor of American Literature at Clark College in Worcester, where we had all imagined they would grow old together, and now the stupid universe has fucked that up. Yes, it’s fucked up before, but this time, it’s gone too far. Really bigtime, this fuck-up. This time, it’s personal. Like, it hurt people’s stomachs, this fuck-up. It made everyone cry. It stings like a blizzard of needles in the face.

Rodney Curtis, friend from Danny and my other friend Danny’s high school, recalls the following, and I think we’ll all recognize the Danny we knew:

One of the funniest things, nope, the funniest thing I remember seeing Danny Thompson do live was at a gas station. We were filling up his car and he walked — all suspicious- like — past the paper towel dispenser and with one quick motion, swiped a towel and shoved it under his coat like he was shoplifting it. Goddamn, I pert' near laughed outta my 1970's shell. I've related that story to my family and friends over the years and it gets lost in translation. But I know you can see him doing that move, simply for an audience of one.

He's right, I can see him. Even so, you had to be there. I really had to be there. I spent a lot of time with Danny and ate and drank and made a lot of art with him, but not as much as I wish I had. I wish I had more time with him. I wish. I wish he were here even if only to continue making my friends happy. Even if only to continue making Meredith and their friends in Worcester happy. Oh, hell, do I wish that. I can’t stand this. But I’ll try to go on because Danny would say, oh! you know what cheese makes the best grilled cheese? What cheese, Danny? What cheese? A person can be heartbroken and full of love, devastated and euphoric, at the same time, people have done it all through history. Get some new socks, have some tea. Listen to some Louis Jordan. Watch those movies on that thumb drive I sent you, that should carry you through a few years.

Look at those hills. The wildflowers.

This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day.


Posted by Alexander Jerri

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

It’s nostalgia time on premium cable. I mean, it’s always nostalgia time on premium cable. But, man, Mohammed Ali. Got me listening to The Motorbooty Affair. This is Howard Cossell, reporting live from The Motorbooty Affair.

Hey, remember when Mohammed Ali, the boxer, refused to go to Vietnam and fight against the North and the VC? Remember why? Because it was a racist war, he wasn’t getting treated like a human being by the official society here in the USA, and he didn’t like that much, so why should he go do the same thing to some strangers on the other side of the world who’d never done him any harm? Remember that? Or something like that? That was when refusing to go to war wasn’t easy. You were forced to go to war. If you refused, you went to jail. You lost your championship title. There were consequences. Nowadays, they can’t force you to go to war. They just make you so poor you have no choice but to join the army. But it is a choice. Isn’t it?

Remember back when? When the world was sort of different, although since then the cruelties have shifted around, from public sector to private sector, from overt coercion to subtle, tacit coercion? Here and there, now and then? Nostalgia is unnecessary. You really just need the proper tools of interpretation, and you are instantly transported from the enlightened present to the benighted past. Watch The Handmaid’s Tale and you are back in your worst colonial collective memory. Just by rearranging the emphasis on intention, you can travel back in time while staying in the same place. To colonial times. Or to yesterday in Alabama.

Nostalgia didn’t used to be a dead end, but nostalgia is a dead end, especially now. We are approaching the future, and it looks like crap. Yet we are compelled to think of the past, because, eh, it’s the only thing we can remember. We are prisoners of our mental deficiencies. Look, it happens. It happened in Rome. It happened in Medieval Europe. It happened in 20th Century Europe. It happens because our institutions are adolescent. They’re stuck in a puerile stage of development. They repeatedly promise reform, because the people and the obvious awfulness of the situation demand it, but, like lazy teenagers, they continue the same behavior that burned the house down and wrecked the car, last time and the time before. They haven’t got the maturity to address their issues in an honest way. It’s a story as old as time. Caveman teenagers were just as bad. It’s not the teenagers’ fault. It’s the fact that our institutions must be indulged and endured as if they were recalcitrant puberty-sufferers, lying for the sake of convenience, just wanting to get high because life in the suburbs is so stultifyingly boring.

I was walking up a hill, among some trees, just after a rain, a bird twittering amid the foliage beside the path, and I had a great sense of being in North America. Remember North America? And of course, I was and am in North America, but I had a deep sense of it. And I had just been listening to a podcast about Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, and one scholar had been talking about the landscape descriptions in the novel, the Scottish landscape, the Tyrolian, the Swiss, the Alpine landscapes, how nature was thought of back then, and Rousseau and the notion of the noble savage and how the Creature was a tabula rasa at birth but society’s intolerance made him a monster.

The natural world is conjured up in Chernobyl. On HBO. So nostalgic. So bucolic. It all reminds me of the woods around Eastport Michigan, near Torch Lake, where both Eminems, Marshall Mathers and Michael Moore, have habitations. Remember Eminem? Imagine his nostalgia. Nostalgia for the Detroit of his youth, which was the Detroit of my high school years. Which was like the Detroit of today, but with fewer highways, high-end cafes, and combination bicycle/watch/baseball mitt shops.

Did Eminem ever go to the cider mill, do you think? Can you picture a young, urban, and white Eminem, chilling at the Cider Mill with his posse? Eating a bag of crunchy fried doughnuts, a brown paper bag stained with doughnut grease? Drinking brown cider out of a Styrofoam cup, a waterwheel behind him, wheeling water from the Rouge River? I bet he said a lot of stupid things, a whole mess of blarney, as they called it in the Ireland of someone else’s youth. How dizzy I get from the vapor of nostalgia for the Ireland of someone else’s childhood.

Just beautiful, all this memory and current existence. This pink slime of time’s guts.

It was a different world when Aretha Franklin and Mohammed Ali were in their 20s and 30s and 40s. It was a different world. There was something to live for. Soul. Bravery. An end to a racist war. These days, soul is on the market, bravery is scarce, and racist, capitalist, imperialist wars have proven themselves never-ending. Bravery is impossible, there’s just no room for it, the Spectacle has evolved to devour and assimilate even the most radical gesture. Even the community work of Nipsy Hustle is quietly savored and swallowed, melting in the mouth of the beast like a throat lozenge.

Not to say we haven’t made progress. We’re much closer to the world predicted in the movie, Soylent Green. Remember that movie? Spoiler alert, it was made out of people. That’s where the phrase, “Soylent Green is made out of people!” comes from.

Remember those apocalyptic movies of the late 60s-early-70s? Looking back, how naïve, yet how prescient, were their predictions of the future. Of course, you can’t remember the future, you can only remember the past. So the only future I can remember is the one predicted by Rollerball and Soylent Green and Planet of the Apes. That future is all in the past.

The very idea that we even have a future is passé. The future itself, the time reached after time has passed beneath our feet, brushed past our cheeks, or streamed through the sky over our heads, is a time whose time has passed. The future is a time whose time has passed. The present is all the past was lumbering toward, it’s the barrier all our hopes crash into, where they pile up in a heap of garbage, because they can’t go any farther.

So we should either climb over the rubbish heap of the past into the future, or get serious about clearing it away. We can’t keep standing here, admiring it, picking out this and that thing we want to salvage. But we’re going to. We’re going to linger here. Sadly, we must face the fact that the generation that got us to this point is not the generation to lead the way forward. No one over 35 today can see their way out of this wilderness, because we’re stopped at the barrier, we worship the barrier, we buy and sell the barrier, we’ve set up camp here like Milo Minderbinder or Mother Courage, living off the barrier, running our little concessions, this and that, recycled Q-tips, bicycle wheels, reclaimed rags, crackers made of people. I suggest we use a chair as a table, a table as a bed, and a walk-in closet as a gym. Just selling each other the same trash, over and over. Wasn’t there some rumor that we were in a new millennium? It’s hasn’t taken yet.

Clustered around the trash heap of the past, wheeling and dealing like money-changers in the temple. The next generation is here, though. We need to let them pass, at least not prevent them from clearing a path through the accumulation of mistakes and sins and habitual failures. We may be doomed to resurrect our leadership from the graveyard of failure, but there is another generation coming up. The least we could do is put on our hazard lights so they know they can go around. Wave them around. Go around! Go around! Leave us here. We’re happy here, you go ahead, we’re going to worship some old jackass and keep eating cold, leftover French fries out of this to-go container, building our huts out of corrugated plastic and plywood. We’re used to it, we dug a groove in the album, we’re fine, just leave us here. You go on ahead, make something of yourselves. Make something besides Soylent Green of yourselves.

This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!

 


Posted by Alexander Jerri


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

I envy those who can unironically praise and express love for themselves in our multicultural post-modern USA. Who are these people? They’re the oppressed. Just as they have to work twice as hard to succeed in this biased society, they need to be twice as proud as unoppressed people in order to achieve the same level of self-esteem.

Who’s unoppressed? The straight white men. White women can at least be proud of being women, at least until someone points out how many of them voted for Dump, and the other historically awful crap they’ve done.

I’m lucky, because in addition to being white I’m also a Jew. It’s okay to be proud of being a Jew as long as you’re suitably ashamed of the Israeli expulsion of Muslim Palestinians prior to 1948 Independence and the subsequent abuses of the Occupation. The Jews who deny any wrong-doing in this regard, well, I’m ashamed of them. And they’re ashamed of me. They call me a “self-hating Jew.” Have you ever really gotten to know a Jew? If you have, I’m sure you’ll agree that the moniker “self-hating Jew” is redundant.

So white Jews are a special case of white people. Then again, isn’t every white person? You can be proudly Irish, because you saved civilization and survived the famine. You can be proudly Russian, because of Tolstoy etc., and that you survived any number of things. You can be proudly German, because of Goethe, but I suggest you counterweigh that pride with some healthy shame because of you-know-what.

Really, it’s the WASPs who need to check their pride, at least here in the US, but also around the world. They owned like half the world at one point, and despite extending their pinkies while drinking tea, they weren’t the kindest of overlords. But, hey, the overlord business isn’t about kindness. The Chinese in Tibet, Uyghur-land, Indochina, etc. have earned a lot of shame, but the British got them all hooked on opium, so it’s even, I guess. The Japanese in China, Thailand, etc., were brutal oppressors, but they did invent sushi, origami, sake, and they got Hiroshimaed and Nagasakied by the WASPs and their minions.

WASPs carry the whiteness elitism for the rest of the white mongrels. Whiteness is what allows the rest of us white people to pass as possible members of the elite group of oppressors. We look like we could possibly be related to some wealthy authority figure, like John Jacob Astor or Colonel Sanders. That’s usually enough to keep a cop from shooting us during a routine traffic stop.

On the other end of the oppression spectrum are the black Africans, as opposed to the white, Arab, and Berber Africans. When those afraid to say “black” in the USA say, “African American,” they mean Black African American, not those others, who might also consider themselves both African and American. When the African Diaspora is referred to, it usually means black Africans who are dispersed all over the world, mainly due to being shipped around as slave labor. A black African nation has never dropped a nuclear weapon. Black Africans have never oppressed anyone but each other, although they have been known to oppress homosexuals, albinos, women and children, so there’s some intersectional discrimination there.

Africa is the continent most of the black people in the USA hail from, ancestrally, and that continent was raped, literally and figuratively – robbed of its resources, sovereignty, and cultural potential – by the Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Belgian, German, and English white people, primarily. In the USA, then, the white people, as WASPs by association if not blood and culture, represent the primary despoilers of what we call “the global south,” and the black people represent its primary victims. And this is reflected today mainly in the status of black people as targets of political and social rhetoric, economic oppression, and abuse from the law.

Anyway, that’s where the racial hierarchy derives from, and where it shakes out today. Yes, the class issue is powerfully blended in there. It would be simpler if all white people were heterosexual WASP adult able-bodied men, and all black people were equally poor and incarcerated. But it’s not simple, it’s complicated, although the fact that it’s complicated shouldn’t distract us from the simple, straightforward, everyday injustices perpetrated against the descendants of slaves by the descendants of the beneficiaries of slavery. There’s a particular antagonism by white authority that emerges from that dichotomy, and while it isn’t bounded within that dichotomy, there’s a peculiarity of the persecution that lies inside those limits. A peculiar institution, if you will.

At a certain point in history, black people became associated with the struggle against oppression. Probably, and I’m just guessing here, but probably because they were being oppressed and didn’t like it.

At this point in writing this, I’ve just seen the new footage from Sandra Bland’s phone camera of her being extremely aggressively threatened by the police officer who arrested her just before the Texas police killed her. I mean, it’s pretty obvious they killed her. For not signaling a lane change.

Anyway, so, yeah, at a certain point enough of the conscience of the world was sickened and infuriated by the way white people were abusing, enslaving, and murdering black people, and started rooting for and even helping black people, who had already been fighting against white cruelty from the beginning, really, eventually the eyes of the rest of the world couldn’t remain closed, so now pressure was coming from both outside and inside the evil system.

Anyway, a lot of white people still hold a grudge. They liked slavery. They thought it was good for them, and some even pretend they believe it was good for black people. And even after slavery, they didn’t want to let go of being cruel to black people. So everyone who was against them being cruel to black people became their enemy.

So by the 1960s, black people became associated, on the right, with hippies and birth control and socialism. So all that got mixed together in the racist mind. They saw liberals in favor of black people, and black people were their enemy, so black people and their desire not to be murdered or imprisoned or generally screwed with became synonymous with indigenous rights and recycling and whatever. That’s why they’re so offended by football players taking the knee. They know somehow it’s anti-racism, so they also assume it must be anti-patriotism, anti-militarism, anti-heterosexuality, and anti-white. The rightwing white people have now hopelessly entangled their Racism with anti-multiculturalism, anti-peace, anti-sexual freedom, anti- feminism, anti-unionism, anti-disablism, and general overall Anti-leftism.

They’re being intersectional! It’s a start!

Seriously, though, it’s kind of convenient for all of us. They are a one-stop shop of hatefulness! Of course, it’s always more complicated than that. I mean, there’s always someone who has to pipe up with, “I’m anti-labor but I’m also anti-racist.” Or, “I’m anti-multiculturalism, but I’m also Jewish.” Or, “I’m anti-abortion and anti-trans-rights, but I’m also black!” I get the feeling such people are just being perverse. A bunch of hateful people have done us the favor of wrapping themselves up in a Nazi bow of total hatred, and these “devil’s advocates” are trying to confuse the issue. Let’s focus on the straightforward, all-inclusive enemies first. Then we can deal with these other losers.

This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!

 


Posted by Alexander Jerri

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

It’s a dangerous world. How do you make it safe? You can’t make everyone safe. You have to start by making yourself safe. How? By deflecting, so I hear. Deflection. It’s the coward’s way and you’ve got to give it to cowards, they’re all safety first.

I’d like to deflect a few things. Because I’ve heard that’s what clever people do, they deflect. Or maybe not clever people, successful people. I’m not sure what characterizes these people, to be honest, but deflection seems to be thought of as a successful strategy. I’m not sure for what. But successful on its own terms or on some terms.

I heard from an anonymous source that, at UCLA, a stupid uninoculated millennial may have exposed 500 people or so to the measles, those people were quarantined, and the school has been hushing it up, but you didn’t hear it from me.

My writing partner is saddened that chimps in the Detroit Zoo are no longer allowed to smoke. I agree, it’s an unfortunate decision. Everything gets ruined by these priggish bluestocking martinets. One of my fondest childhood memories is of going into the Great Ape House and seeing Jo Mendi II relaxing with a cigarette and the morning paper. What are the chimps supposed to do now when they’re having coffee or a beer?

Trump writes up an executive order that health workers can refuse to give medical care for religious reasons. So if a Satanic pharmacist doesn’t want to sell you reading glasses because you’ll use them to read the Bible, you’re out of luck, Junior.

Look, I’ve wasted my life. I did it just to see what that would be like. And it’s fine. It’s miserable, yeah, but lots of people are miserable who haven’t wasted their lives at all. They’ve created quite beautiful things, like restaurants or symphonies or babies. Yet they can be miserable, physically miserable, living in misery. I’m just miserable because I’m haunted by self-disgust. Because I’ve wasted my life, and I did it on purpose, just to see what it would be like. And it’s great, really.

But it was a stupid thing to do, in other ways. But then, wasn’t it stupid of us to allow things to get to this point? Where everything is melting and burning, and only incredibly stupid, vile people are allowed to hold public office? That’s not so smart, right? So why is it an issue that I’ve stupidly allowed my life and my potential to rot and vaporize? I mean, haven’t we all been just as stupid, in our own way? And by “our own way,” I mean “your own way” because I’ve already accounted for myself. I’m outside the equation. I wasn’t trying to do anything smart. I was just trying to get away without doing anything smart. But you all, you’ve actually been living. You’ve been trying. I mean, Yo Yo Ma and Ai Wei Wei and you others, you’ve been really trying. And sure, you’ve done some beautiful, meaningful stuff. But in the end, y’know, all the coral is going to be bleached and dead. And cities are all destroyed. Floods. Y’know, stuff like that, it hasn’t really done a damn thing to forestall the end of our world, it’s just made pretty noises and objects. It’s made people think. It’s made people do things, but whatever it made them think and do, it didn’t really stop the steamroller of destruction coming for us.

Not to dwell on destruction. They took a picture of a black hole, did you see this thing? And what’s more destructive than a black hole? Beyond the event horizon, everything turns into nonsense. It’s so beautiful. It’s a torus. It’s a toroidal shape. And here I am, you don’t need me to interpret that extreme gravity for you, I’m the guy who wasted his life, remember? I wasted my life to see what would happen. Could it really be accomplished, the wasting of one’s life? More importantly, could I do it? Because I’m no one special. I accepted the mission because it’s important to me to be no one special. Not just anyone can waste his life. And yet just anyone did. It takes a really extraordinary person to commit to be ordinary, but not just ordinary, but, yes, maybe yes, maybe just ordinary, yes. Maybe.

So I wasted my life, that’s such a tragedy? I’m not gonna get worked up about it. You need to get right with God. No, not really. But check your own whatever. Because from where I sit, lying down, staring at the ceiling, things look pretty bad for everyone. Legit bad. Bad in legit fashion.

I mean, we’ve almost poisoned all our water. What were we thinking? And you all have to take responsibility for that. I don’t, because I was busy wasting my life. We’re killing all life on this planet at an alarming rate. And by we I mean You. You did this. I was busy with my life’s all- encompassing project of wasting my life. It kept me busy every single minute of every day.

Seriously, you try it. Too late, am I right? You’ve already achieved. You’ve over-achieved. Yes you have. It’s way too late for you to waste your lives now. What can I tell you, as someone who’s gone beyond that event horizon of the wasted life? Can I tell you it’s beautiful here? Can I? I can. It is sometimes. And horrible. Much like your own lives. But I’ve gone over the event horizon, where matter is, I don’t know, it just, maybe it just, we don’t know. And by we, I mean you. You don’t know. You don’t understand. It’s beyond understanding.

They could’ve left well enough alone. They could’ve let the damn chimps enjoy their smoking time. They could’ve kept abortion legal. They could’ve used the Electoral College for its intended purpose and set Donald Dump on fire when they had the chance. And they say I’ve wasted my life. The Electoral College wasted its life.

They’ve been cheaping out with the military. The Navy has some seriously understaffed battleships. That’s why they keep crashing into things and killing people. Same with the Air Force. No, it’s not just public education that they’re starving. It’s gotten so bad they’re even pocketing money that should be keeping sailors and soldiers and pilots safe on the job. Well, members of the armed forces are just workers, after all. Why should they be safe? Why should they have any more safety than any other poor slobs. The embezzling class, they really are awful people and by they I don’t mean you, although if it is you, shame on you.

Look, I just wanna deflect, that’s the name of the game, right? Sure, I wasted my life, but let’s face it, we’re all in this together. And by we I mean you.

This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!


Posted by Alexander Jerri

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

I’ve been trying to channel someone with admirable traits lately, because I have none left. Not sure I ever did. Was I kind and forgiving at one time? Emotionally generous? Did I suffer fools gladly? Did I suckle baby iguanas at my teat of human kindness?

I am despicable. Self-despicable. I am very self-reliant in that one regard. I can definitely despise myself. All by myself.

I do have one consolation. At least I’m not a social climber. I lack the prehensile tail, much less the embouchure it takes to cling to someone else’s upwardly moving prehensile tail by my lips.

But the rest of you, oh my god, how did you all get like this? You’re worse than me! And I’m not the only one who thinks so. I say that without a shred of proof, just evidence gathered like one might gather crumbs on a table cloth and call them a cookie. Like Alex Jones does with fragments of lies.

Just think: Alex Jones exists. That alone ought to be enough to convince any objective observer that our species has outlived its redemptive potential.

I can’t figure out who I hate more: the left, the right, or the middle? Or the up? Or the down? There is an interlocking ecology of annoyances these days. I can’t stand the interrogation of the self that brings forth nothing but oversimplifications. The academics who can’t utter one comprehensible word, and the academics who CAN utter comprehensible words but they’re always reactionary words. I don’t know who’s more intolerable, the people I can’t stand or the people who can’t stand me or the ones who overlap into both categories.

The white people and the Chinese and the Persians and Greeks and Mongols and Tatars started it. Conquering. But even that idea is too complicated for a lot of you. I can’t even itemize what aggrieves me anymore. This is how bad it’s gotten. This is how bad YOU’VE all gotten.

It’s the white men, it’s the black men, it’s the straight men, it’s the gay men, it’s the women of color, it’s the white women, it’s the Jews it’s the gentiles it’s the god damn Buddhists. I’m just, I’m fed up. Not a single one of you has a decent idea about how to proceed. We’re just gonna run in place here. Just jog in place shouting one incomprehensible chant over and over while our spinning wheels wear out the turf and dig a hole underneath ourselves, a bottomless pit for us to fall into.

I’ve tried to be patient and gracious. A lot of good that did. You people lose respect for a gracious individual. You think just because you can walk all over someone that that’s all he’s good for. Well, in my case, you’re right, but it’s still very shallow of you.

It doesn’t make sense to make sense anymore. Ideologies have all become grotesque. They’ve swollen like some kind of leathery pumpkins, swollen with their own internal moisture festering with bacteria, like an obese blister growing on some eldritch garden vine.

I’ve tried being analytical. I’ve tried being emotional. I’ve tried being exuberant. I’ve tried being sober. None of these conditions appeals to me.

I heard someone call this an election year. It’s not. It’s still 2019. That’s nothing. That’s a nothing year. This is the year of grasping the fog. I got an idea, why don’t we all just take the fog, braid it into rope, and hang ourselves from the clouds. Huh? How about it? Why, what’s so great about what YOU’VE got planned?

I understand I’m not giving you a chance, with this vague Jeremiad. Super vague, I know. “What exactly are you upset about, Jeff? Can you be specific so we might at least pretend to care? Go through the motions of caring, like an NRA-beholden legislator after a mass school shooting?” No, I can’t. I’m just utterly, atomistically aggrieved. My agitation is Brownian, like molecules in broth. I just can’t, y’know? I just can’t. The prospect of receiving your insincere thoughts and prayers for my groping, blind aggravation is no incentive to focus.

Can’t you just feel it? Every ethnic, socio-economic, phenotypic, genotypic – every kind of person there is, each and all up in arms, everyone for themselves and God against all. I know you’ve got to have felt like this at some point recently. You haven’t? You might have but you’re not sure because I’m being so expansively inclusive it’s hard to tell?

I’m just trying to give voice to the desperate sensation that there is no way out of the mess. That’s all. And I am succeeding to my own satisfaction, although satisfied I am not.

I hate what’s going on these days. I hate the plot, the writing, everything. But I will admit, I’m interested. You have my attention. I’m invested. Not monetarily. Monetarily? Really? Me? You gotta be kidding. No, I’m bankrupt of every asset you could imagine. I have no interest but the honest one. I’m binging on Earth, and the human species. I’m hooked. I actually have real affection for this story I hate, the plot twists I can’t stomach, the characters I’d like to throttle. I can’t help it. You got me interested. I’m hooked.

This is why we’re doomed. I suspect the only reason we’re all participating in this sick nihilistic mumblecore charade, this existential doomsday soap opera, is because we want to know what happens next. Will Dick finally get down with Jane on Search for Tomorrow? We’re so weak.

This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!


Posted by Alexander Jerri

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

When I first saw David Frum, I said to myself, Damn, that guy’s ugly. Then I heard the bs that came out of his slobbering maw and said, aloud, “Uch, shut up.” Frum is one of those conservatives who fancies himself fair-minded, so he sporadically takes some positions which those defining conservatism at any given time call “liberal.” It’s like being a light-drinking alcoholic.

Last week, as current editor of the Atlantic, Frum took his ersatz common sense and applied it to what I’m going to call “the immigration question.” On the anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, I do indeed intend the phrase to echo “the Jewish question” which was posed by a certain common-sense party in Europe in the 30s and 40s. I don’t mean to call Frum a Nazi, but to aver that there is an unflattering comparison to be made between the way Jews were considered a problem back then and the way immigrants are being considered a problem right now, and Frum’s discussion highlights just about all of its unflattering aspects.

To Frum, immigrants lower the national IQ, strain our social budget, and pollute what it means to be American. That is an oversimplification of his argument, but not a gross one. I want to state plainly that, in this case, I am a bigot. Even if the above statements were true, I wouldn’t consider them problems.

If we had to rescue millions of severely mentally handicapped children from extermination in, say, Europe, or, say, Uganda, or, say, Syria, the fact that they would bring down the national testing average would not be one of my concerns. The real issue Frum elides, however, is that, as a nation, we don’t commit resources to our public schools. In our cities, “common-sense” Republicans and Democrats alike are bailing on providing education to the public. With or without immigrants, this would be true. Neo-liberalism, or trickle-down economics, or the Washington Consensus, or whatever those with “common sense” want to call it, is doing its best to starve the public of resources, or outright steal the public’s resources, and all the “immigration question” does is offer these “common-sense” advocates of privatization and “market solutions” with another crisis they can use to bludgeon the public sphere into submission.

Frum warns of the strain allowing too many low-earning immigrants into our work force is going to put on Social Security and other entitlement programs. I’m sorry, that’s such a farcical assertion on Frum’s part I can barely bring myself to address it. The idea that the so-called “trust fund” of Social Security is being strained by anything other than those who have stolen from it is easily dismissed, and the same goes for Medicare and any other guarantee of public welfare. The notion that the savings systems behind these programs are “going bankrupt” is a delusion. If we cared even an iota as much about supplying medical care or housing for people as we do about giving trillions for our defense contractor friends to pocket, there would be no strain. I never hear that we’re putting too great a strain on our defense budget by investing in fighter jets that can’t fly or wars based on manufactured evidence. We don’t strain to fund that which we care about. Therefore, Frum would find Social Security a strain whether immigrants were factored in or not. It’s a matter of priorities. Whatever government function Frum holds as a low priority, he warns us it’s going to fare even worse if we let too many Mexican hillbillies into the country. That is, Frum will hold up immigration as yet another reason we can’t afford the amenities of a modern republic, amenities he has never supported.

My favorite assertion from Frum is that he’s been warning us about the rise of white nationalism since the 80s or something, if we don’t enact “common-sense” reforms of our immigration system. This is really his main thesis. As a light-drinking alcoholic, Frum can’t stomach the hard-core incompetence and outright fascism of the Donald Dump administration. So, until the GOP is no longer led by Donald Dump, he has no choice but to rely, at least rhetorically, on Democrats for “common sense.” He says something to the effect of, “If Good People won’t do something good about immigration, the Bad People will do something Bad about it.” And this is a global problem, he insists. And he’s right. Globally, the economic elite are forcing austerity on everyone else, causing us to compete for fewer and fewer resources due to artificial shortages, and rightwing parties of the kind Frum has, throughout his career, given periodic rhetorical support for, have used this enforced austerity to strengthen bigotry of the kind Frum believes we now have too much of.

Frum’s insistence that immigrants just aren’t suited to contribute to our national discussion on rights that are singularly American is true. A Catholic farmer from Mexico isn’t predisposed to fight for trans rights. A Syrian refugee might balk at voting for the rights of same-sex couples to marry. But then again, they’re not the main forces agitating against those rights. White people are. Thanks to the economics Frum takes as the tacit basis for all his arguments, the fascist right is rising. I’ve been warning Frum to stop pushing for an end to the public sphere. But he wouldn’t listen. And now we’ve got fascism knocking on the door.

The story goes that Frum was once reading Solzhenitsyn on a bus full of Democrats and they made fun of him or something. And from then on he vowed to disregard the left. If he’d been on a bus full of Republicans who’d made fun of him for reading Edward Said things would have gone in another direction. Instead of defecting to the ostensible center from the right, Frum would have done so from the left, perhaps. I mean, seeing as he’s so fair-minded and full of common sense, it was probably his destiny to champion answers to “the immigration question.”

This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!