Altered State

For a brief, shining moment, the world was safe.

For eleven minutes Thursday, the greatest immediate threat to humanity’s survival — besides humanity itself — didn’t exist.

It was bliss, a glimpse into an alternate reality where things are still going to shit, but we’re working on it, and it’s not hopeless.

And then Twitter restored Donald Trump’s account.

Back when it looked like Trump’s political incompetence was worse than Hillary’s, we feared that while the Republic may have dodged a bullet, the next would be better-aimed: Trump had done nothing more than exploit the well-tended resentment of Angry White Voters, and we couldn’t be confident that the next demagogue wouldn’t come equipped. A pivot towards the middle, Fascism With a Human Face, and we were doomed.

That, it turns out, was electorally unnecessary. Thanks to a system that is structurally unrepresentative, that can be gamed by drawing arbitrary lines and excluding unwelcome participants, Trump was able to achieve power without bothering to solicit the consent of the governed. And he’s been lurching towards tyranny as hard as he can, with the acquiescence of a governing party in Congress that’s far more interested in its own power than the citizens it purportedly represents.

Trump’s election was a perfect storm.

Unless it wasn’t.

Instead of a freak occurrence, it may have been an indicator of a changing political climate, already past its tipping point, the evidence of which was provided in those welcome eleven minutes when the world we now live in didn’t exist.

Donald Trump as we know him wouldn’t exist without social media. He has said as much himself, only the second known case where he has made a statement of fact without lying. (The first related to pussy-grabbing.) His game show wouldn’t have been sufficient to make his political reputation. Even his political rallies were tantamount to YouTube videos, presented in full on cable networks without mediation. Where candidates once had to deal with the gatekeepers of a mass-media system that controlled both content and distribution, Trump could sidestep all that and reach individual voters directly.

This is not new, by the way. Before the Internet, there was targeted direct mail, which, in the hands of an evil genius like Richard Viguerie, could deliver carefully crafted incendiary messages to individuals without their neighbors (or political opponents) knowing. And Viguerie himself was early to recognize the Internet as a far more efficient, far less expensive, delivery system. Social networks merely complete the evolution from mail and email. Donald Trump can cause more harm while taking a shit than his predecessors could manage with design, printing and postage.

And he’s just an idiot who lived long enough to find his perfect medium. Our new political climate — which includes our new technological climate — allows every bad actor in the world to play in America’s Sandbox, not just our homegrown demagogues. When the Russians weren’t playing Trump’s campaign leaders for patsies, they were monkeywrenching the citizenry, inflaming both sides of an issue, right down to organizing dueling street protests.

This turns out to be ridiculously easy. The other day, a friend posted an anti-Israel meme on Facebook, noting that the fractured English made it likely that the meme was generated by a Russian troll mill. And the first comment on the post ignored the provenance, instead launching into an impassioned condemnation of Israel. When we observed that the meme strategy appeared to be effective, the commenter replied with more details about Israel’s bad faith with its Islamic citizens.

All of which we happen to agree with, in its broad outlines. But the intent of the meme — and the point our friend was making in sharing it — was to push buttons, to foment divisiveness. Mission accomplished.

And this was a lefty meme. Trump’s cult followers may be mindless idiots, but partisans of all labels are prone to sensationalism and wishful thinking. We’ve seen plenty of examples recently of Progressives who are as dismissive of facts as Paleoconservatives. Just claim, with no understanding of legal procedure, that Trump’s name is at the top of a sealed indictment, and watch them come out of the woodwork.

This is the world we live in now, a world of con artists and marks, a world where we are all Robert Shaw in The Sting, targets of elaborately constructed false realities, custom-designed to satisfy our desires, easily delivered to our very fingertips on a massive scale. And this is the world that Donald Trump, America’s malevolent Chance the Gardener, was able to intuitively manipulate all the way into the White House a year ago this week.

It was no perfect storm. It was the first of many Cat-5 hurricanes we’ll be seeing in the political seasons ahead.

And for a glorious eleven minutes on Thursday, it never existed.

66 comments:

9:49 pm • Saturday • November 4, 2017

The Rochedale Herald posted a good one on this yesterday.

10:32 pm • Saturday • November 4, 2017

@DElurker: “Power hungry arseholes also pervy fuckers shocker”. I’m signing up for home delivery.

1:05 am • Sunday • November 5, 2017

Call me a contrarian, but I like Trump on Twitter, as well as the rest of those racist assholes. Keep them talking, and perhaps those that need to hear these things will hear them. I doubt it, but I want them saying horrid things until society is horrified.

10:03 am • Sunday • November 5, 2017

And the best is yet to come: Very soon we’ll have fully-realized fake audio and fake video, and then life really will be a choose-your-own-adventure.

11:09 am • Sunday • November 5, 2017

@blogenfreude: Spoiler alert: Society will not be horrified.

11:10 am • Sunday • November 5, 2017

@¡Andrew!: One wonders why we even need VR gear, since many folks are quite adept without it.

4:05 pm • Sunday • November 5, 2017

@nojo: well, the part that needs to be will not …

5:30 pm • Sunday • November 5, 2017

@blogenfreude: I can’t find a racial breakdown of the latest WaPo poll, but someone noticed with a previous poll that whites are split evenly in their Trump opinions. There’s no debate among everyone else.

Whites are now around 60 percent if the country. Half of that is 30 percent, or the third that consistently shows up in polls — any poll, any subject — as fucking idiots.

We have met the enemy, and they is us.

5:37 pm • Sunday • November 5, 2017

@nojo: Seems I read that us honkies will be in the minority as early as 2024. Can’t come soon enough given how badly we’ve screwed over everyone else.

BTW, it’s phony Twitz ‘n Prayers time again.

5:49 pm • Sunday • November 5, 2017

I once read in a dystopian novel about how the wealthy in the future pay for computers to read their prayers aloud to gawd on auto-repeat.

If computers are praying, is gawd listening?

That absurd abdication carries as much validity as the false piety of Twitler and Lyin.

6:08 pm • Sunday • November 5, 2017

@¡Andrew!: I’d been hearing 2030-2040 for the Great Demographic Shift, which was giving me hope for the future until…

Someone noticed they will end up clustering in big-state cities.

America’s going to be pinned down by pairs of Senators from small states for a long time. They, in turn, will continue perverting the judiciary. And if you don’t like it, each state gets one vote to amend the Constitution.

Still, given the harm caused by Republican presidents since I was ten, maybe bringing the Electoral College back into rough alignment with voter preference is a fair trade.

But whilst we wait, where are all those pissed-off homeless Puerto Ricans moving?

Florida.

Should have kept them happy on their powerless island, folks.

6:48 pm • Sunday • November 5, 2017

Twitter trolls already trying to label Texas gunman as Antifa or Muslim convert. Whatever the Russians are doing, they learned it from the American Right.

7:12 pm • Sunday • November 5, 2017
11:12 am • Monday • November 6, 2017

Salon hits our national crisis right between the eyes.

Trump’s popularity has sunk to historic lows for a president at this point in his first term, yet he maintains high levels of support among Republicans and his other core supporters. How it is possible that such a political fiend could remain so popular with tens of millions of people in what is supposedly the greatest democracy on Earth?

Donald Trump is popular among tens of millions of white Americans precisely because he is rich, ignorant, a bully, violent, misogynistic, racist and crude. In his shortcomings they see admirable virtues which they desire for themselves.

One cannot ignore how, in voting for Donald Trump, his supporters made a conscious decision to cause pain and harm to their fellow citizens. In understanding the allure of Trumpism, the pleasures of political sadism and the psychological wages they pay cannot be underestimated. Ultimately, Trump represents the worst aspects of America’s national character distilled down into one human being. Instead of being condemned for this fact, too many millions of Americans view Trump as a hero and defender of their values.

11:29 am • Monday • November 6, 2017

TexASS always takes the gold in the Asshole Olympics.

11:51 am • Monday • November 6, 2017

@¡Andrew!: “Political sadism” is as precise as it gets.

4:43 pm • Monday • November 6, 2017

At least someone beat the shit outta Rand Paul.

This is the second time he’s been attacked this year. You’d think he’d realize the universe is sending him a message.

6:20 pm • Monday • November 6, 2017

@¡Andrew!: Neighbor. Long-running argument over leaf blowers.

I am not kidding.

9:32 am • Tuesday • November 7, 2017

@blogenfreude: I agree 100%. If he’s tweeting maybe he isn’t reaching for the nuclear codes.

9:34 am • Tuesday • November 7, 2017

@nojo: I can’t help but think there might be something more sinister going on here. Now this just might be a result of 40 years in law enforcement but still 5 broken ribs over leaf blowers? Could happen. I’ve seen crazy stuff like this, but still…….

9:37 am • Tuesday • November 7, 2017

@nojo: No they won’t and that might be the scariest thing of all.

8:54 pm • Tuesday • November 7, 2017

Looks like Virginia is not for Racists/GOPers.

9:18 pm • Tuesday • November 7, 2017

@ManchuCandidate: Considering all the Dem bedwetting the past week, this is a very pleasant surprise. I’m trying not to get excited about What It Portends, but I’m still huffing what others are saying.

Which election did you couch-jockey with me? Was that 2010?

10:13 pm • Tuesday • November 7, 2017

Northam won 42% of white voters, compared to Clinton’s 35%. Meaning: A majority of whites still preferred a race-baiting scumbag. America has a Honky Problem.

11:24 pm • Tuesday • November 7, 2017

So, Andrew, happy sounds up yonder?

9:08 am • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

@nojo:
Re: VA

THANK THE FSM!

Maybe this is a preview of a return to sanity and basic human freakin decency.

Re: WA

Just woke up, so I haven’t checked the local returns yet. The Republinazis hold a one seat majority in the state senate, so if the Dems flipped it we’ll have our West Coast Blue Wall against the barbarians.

If you hear an agonized scream from a northwestern direction, it’s just me.

10:06 am • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

@¡Andrew!: What’s amazing is how thorough it was, state by state, race by race, detail by detail. There are some pissed-off people out there, and they voted.

We still have to hang tight another year, but now we know what’s possible.

11:11 am • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

VA also elected its first out, trans state legislator–WOW–who will replace an insane homophobic bigot in an especially gratifying case of poetic justice.

Seattle just elected our first out, lesbian mayor, who also will be the first woman to hold the office since 1928. Bring it, sistahs!!!

11:19 am • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

VICTORY!!!!!! Yeeeeesssss!!!!

Take it away, Dan Savage:

ELECTION NIGHT: The Democrat won the governor’s race in Virginia and Democratic candidates took 15 seats in the Virginia Assembly from Republicans, “an upset that stunned members of both parties and arrived with national implications.” The Democrat won the governor’s race in New Jersey. A black woman was elected mayor in Charlotte, North Carolina, a first. A black man was elected mayor in St. Paul, Minnesota, another first. A Sikh was elected mayor in Hoboken. A trans woman of color was elected to the city council in Minneapolis. A New Jersey county official who mocked the Women’s March was defeated by a woman who was so angered by his comments that she decided to run against him. And, um, a lesbian was elected to the mayor’s office in Seattle.

TWO VIRGINIA ASSEMBLY RACES WORTH HIGHLIGHTING: Danica Roem, a trans woman and first-time candidate, defeated the states biggest anti-trans and anti-gay bigot. The man she defeated in the state assembly race, Bob Marshall, was a 26-year incumbent and the author of Virginia’s anti-trans bathroom bill. Marshall refused to use Roem’s correct pronouns during the campaign, referring to his opponent as “he,” but Roem refused to attack Marshall after turfing (terfing?) him out of office: “When asked about her opponent last night at her victory party, Roem said simply, ‘I don’t attack my constituents. Bob is my constituent now.'”

And then there was Chris Hurst:

A first-time politician who lost his girlfriend to gun violence has defeated the National Rifle Association-backed incumbent in a state house race in Virginia. Chris Hurst, a former television journalist, ran on a platform that included gun violence prevention. Hurst’s victory, just two days after a mass shooting at a Texas church left 26 people dead, was hailed by gun control advocates as proof that it is possible to make progress on America’s gun violence crisis at the local level.

11:24 am • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

WA flipped the state senate!!!!

THE BLUE WALL: With Manka Dhingra’s victory on the Eastside, Democrats are now in control of the Washington State senate and in charge of everything all up and down the West Coast.

This is an extinction-level event for the racist, hate-crazed GOPKKK. Happy dance!!!

11:39 am • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

The GOP urban strategy—attack cities, attack people who live in cities, attack the “values” of people who live in New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, and other big cities—is the Grand Old Party’s other demographic time bomb. As the country gets browner, the GOP gets whiter. And as more Americans move to urban areas and rapidly urbanizing suburban areas, the GOP grows ever more hostile to urban Americans.

When multiple demographic trends are stacked against you, voter suppression and demagoguery are your only paths to power. Those can be successful strategies in the short run, as the results of the 2016 election demonstrated, but those are strategies that turn democracies into demolition derbies. The question we face now is, What will the GOP destroy first: Itself or the country?

11:43 am • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

Chris Hayes on Twitter:

“this is really important: the Trump appeal *worked* in the most hard-core trump areas, which moved even further towards Gillespie. The backlash was just much much bigger”

By “backlash”, read non-white vote. The Senate will always be fucked, but everywhere officeholders actually represent the electorate, the Great Demographic Shift is happening.

11:44 am • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

@¡Andrew!: I see we’re grooving to the same music.

11:56 am • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

@nojo:

Twitler on Gillespie: I don’t know her.

(snickers!)

11:59 am • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

The Seattle City Council now will be majority women (6:3), including four women of color leading one of the most prosperous cities in the nation. DOUBLE WOW!

12:57 pm • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

@¡Andrew!: After at least five previous tweets endorsing Gillespie. But hey, heroes don’t get captured.

1:05 pm • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

@nojo:
2010. The Teabbaggening

1:10 pm • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

@ManchuCandidate: At least we had popcorn. We had popcorn, didn’t we?

1:15 pm • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

@¡Andrew!: Voter supression, demagoguery — and gerrymandering.

Regarding the latter: Someone snarter than me observed last night that modern computer-driven gerrymandering creates razor-thin majority districts. Looks great on paper, but your electoral margin for error becomes very slim. One wave election can fuck everything up.

And last night was a wave election. We’re still a year out, but everything’s looking good that can at this point.

1:50 pm • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

Seth Meyers: “Soon it’s just going to be Fox & Friend.”

(snort!)

1:55 pm • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

@nojo: The only reason we’re suffering under the jackboot of the GOPKKK in the first place is because of the legacy of our racist, white supremacist system of government.

What makes VA so stunning is that high Dem turnout in an off-cycle year flipped the tables on even the seats that the Republinazis gerrymandered for themselves. This all reminds me if the 2006 Blue Wave.

1:55 pm • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

@¡Andrew!: “I don’t attack my constituents. Bob is my constituent now.” Classy af.

1:58 pm • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

Re: Virginia puns, why have I not seen the obvious (to me, anyway) joke that Old Dominion Republicans are stuck singing “Losing My Virginian”?

2:01 pm • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

@¡Andrew!: 2006 is what I’m hearing as well — all the leading indicators are in place.

Not mentioned: The egregious Republican overreach that followed 2004. Republicans claim mandates that don’t exist, piss off folks mightily, then meet their comeuppance.

And then it all happens again, because White Americans are fucking idiots.

2:02 pm • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

@mellbell: Golf claps. Well done.

2:26 pm • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

@mellbell: Ha ha, love it!

2:27 pm • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

@nojo: Except very soon demographics will make white people far less of a danger to ourselves and others.

3:06 pm • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

@¡Andrew!: Except the Senate, where the Shrinking White States still get two votes each — particularly for judicial nominees. And each Shrinking White State still has a vote to amend the Constitution.

Other than that, yes — the chances of Republicans pulling off a two-branch sweep will minimize. But Stupid White People will still have plenty of opportunities to throw sand in the gears.

Unless the idiots age out. Speaking for my slim demo, the rise of neocons during my college years wasn’t heartening. The smarter you are, the more easily you buy that Party of Ideas shit.

3:33 pm • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

@¡Andrew!: Her correction this afternoon on Twitter only makes it better:

For the record, I didn’t say “Bob.” I said Delegate Marshall. I respect the office and he serves in it until January.

3:47 pm • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

@nojo: I’m not saying it’s not going to be hard–the dying spasms of white supremacy are gonna be terrible–but it is gonna happen.

Just look at the Best Coast Blue Wall. Even a decade ago, it seemed unlikely, yet today it’s become reality.

Hope is back, buddy!

3:59 pm • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

@¡Andrew!: Hope is a dangerous thing. Personally, I’m feeling like both Andy and Red at the moment. Hopeful that this is a good omen for next year and worried that Democrats will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

5:47 pm • Wednesday • November 8, 2017

@mellbell: I completely agree, and I’d never underestimate the Dems’ talent for colossal fuck-ups and ability to pooch the screw…

HOWEVER!

Today we can all stand a little taller, hold our chins a little higher, and be just a little prouder that we may yet be able to save ourselves from this abominable disaster.

The Jezbians have an excellent, life-affirming roundup of all of the tremendous, inspiring results from last night.

10:12 am • Thursday • November 9, 2017

WaPo:

“Donald Trump is an anchor for the GOP,” said veteran party strategist Mike Murphy, a Trump critic. “We got that message in loud volume in Virginia. The ­canary in the coal mine didn’t just pass out; its head exploded.”

10:20 am • Thursday • November 9, 2017

So… what about Alabama? I’ve been too freaked to look.

10:48 am • Thursday • November 9, 2017

@¡Andrew!: Stupid White Men refers to the Dems as well as the GOP. The reason for hope here is that the results were driven by women and women won like never before.

I am convinced that there is something in the water in Alabama that dooms them to a perpetual state of ignorance and boorish behavior.

11:01 am • Thursday • November 9, 2017

@DElurker: Yeah, let’s not get excited about Alabama. Gillespie tried to do Trump without Trump. Roy Moore is the asshole idiots want.

2:18 pm • Thursday • November 9, 2017

BREAKING: WaPo is about to publish an article in which four women allege Moore(ron) sexually assaulted or harrassed them when they were underage.

Follow up story: Moore(ron) just hit the RepubliKKKan jackpot of being a brutal, theocratic bully, a shameless swindler, AND a sexual predator. ELECTION GUARANTEED.

2:21 pm • Thursday • November 9, 2017

@¡Andrew!: Dead Girl/Live Boy applies here.

2:32 pm • Thursday • November 9, 2017

“These allegations are completely false and are a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and the Washington Post on this campaign,” Ayatollah Moore(ron) said in a statement, “and if anything did happen, then these ladies are all lying sluts who were asking for it.”

2:34 pm • Thursday • November 9, 2017

@¡Andrew!: I am shocked, SHOCKED to find that someone who feels compelled to constantly remind everyone what a morally upright, Ten Commandment-following guy he is turns out to be a sexual predator.

2:52 pm • Thursday • November 9, 2017

@nojo: It’s Alabama, so, short of withdrawal or forcible removal by the party, he’ll likely win anyway, but I imagine he’ll lose enough ground among women (who, I guarantee you, all have at least one experience of an older man being creepy toward them at a young age) to make it somewhat close. That’s my cautiously pessimistic take. We’ll see soon enough!

3:33 pm • Thursday • November 9, 2017

@mellbell:

When it comes to age of consent in Alabama, less is Moore.

Quotin’ it!

3:48 pm • Thursday • November 9, 2017

@¡Andrew!: Clever, but yeesh.

4:02 pm • Thursday • November 9, 2017

@¡Andrew!: That was my first Blurb thought, but I went with the second.

4:21 pm • Thursday • November 9, 2017

@¡Andrew!:
Me too

11:42 am • Friday • November 10, 2017

“If True” is the Thoughts & Prayers of Republican sexual atrocities.

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