Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Donald Trump and the End of the World

I realized a few things while I was over at an acquaintance's a couple nights ago, watching BBC and CNN news on her projector (after she'd gotten tired of playing Goat Simulator lol). She and her girlfriend were bristling in indignation at Trump's temporary travel ban, which I merely felt to be yet another foreign policy disaster — par for the course — and an excellent opportunity to test whether or not the decades-long expansion of executive power can withstand a check from the judicial branch of the federal government. So impassioned are both the support for and opposition to our new president, yet I wonder how much of either is rational.

There's certainly much to dislike about the guy: he's a loathesome boor, he was never all that great a businessman, and he's already indicated early on he's grandiose and reckless. And that's not even mentioning his politics: he certainly SEEMS to be racist and misogynistic like most Good Ol' White Boys, his cabinet is a nightmare of inexperience and conflicts of interest (i.e. croneys, or goombas), his immigration and trade sword-rattling are both potentially calamitous, and we less fortunate Americans are fearful of ending up sleeping in shelters and doorways. However, for all that, I emotionally view the guy as the hyperbolic logical conclusion to the American cultural and political trajectory; viewed in that light, it's unlikely he'll get much worse than the likes of Clinton and Bush Jr., or even Nixon.

Does this make me a centrist, cut off by the raging seas of partisan extremism from other like-minded realists like the smaller islands of the Japanaese archipeligo on a bad summer day? As far as immigration goes, I honestly believe that nobody should be allowed into the country who isn't willing to learn English, who won't serve a purpose here, and who would deprive a citizen of a means to make a living. Nor would I mind seeing a trade war against China, as bad as that could get; I'm sick to death of how globalism has reduced blue-collar American workers to pathetic wage slaves. But, as for the travel ban, that's total bullshit: gun-slinging emo American high school kids are more of a threat to our nation's security than are foreigners who underwent months of scrutiny and background checks.

So, yeah, I'm not dogmatically left enough to just hate the guy and want to get all theatrically Thomas Paine on the Establisment because Trump got elected. Besides, I HATE Hillary Clinton! Her husband deregulated more, free-traded more, cut more welfare, and got tougher on crime than most Republicans have within my lifetime — and she's AT LEAST as scary a neo-liberal global elitist as he is. It was a rotten choice to begin with, indicating arrival at the point of critical failure for our campaign and election system. Trump didn't get voted in because most Americans are backwater bozos, but because roughly half of the voting country didn't want another career politician in office.

And, already such a bizarre forty-fifth presidency! I've never seen anything like this scenario spilling out of the White House like metal folding chairs cascading out of a semi hurtling down the freeway, nor can I recall having read anything similar going on during prior presidencies. We the people have grown so stupid, lazy, and selfish ... and, boy howdy, does it show! So much so, that I can only wonder how small-minded or deliberately vapid an American will have to be in 2020 to remain clueless. This could be the wake-up call we political borderland fringe elements have been muttering darkly about forever; but I can just as easily see this being the outside edge of the whirlpool that drags us down into ... Mad Max!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Along the Banks of Cocytus

Significant damage to the front stairs of the central library from a fallen tree limbWinter storm Jupiter* arrived Tuesday afternoon, dumping anywhere between four and fifteen inches of snow on Portland — the most we've had since 1980, which I only very vaguely recall — and still the city is coated in a thick patina of compacted snow and ice. As expected, I lost the first of my newly-acquired Wednesdays (from the other dishwasher); the fourth day this winter has cost me, or about half a paycheck. That's too much money to lose because my city government would rather blow money on useless gimmicky kitsch catered to tourists and monied out-of-staters (e.g. green-demarcated bike lanes and crossings and ugly modern art sculptures at streetcar stops) than invest it in our ailing infrastructure and plan contingently for the future possibility of hotter summers and colder winters.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Mountain Climbing

It's not enough to get into housing and return to work, insofar as getting my shit together is concerned. Everything has to change: drinking, sleeping, diet, hygiene, handling money, even how I choose to amuse myself and with whom. It's tantamount to somehow yanking yourself up in the air by your ankles and upending yourself, or at least that's how it feels; impossible and distressing in its beyond-awkwardness. Of course, on paper anything can look pretty understandable and doable — which is why I'm going to keep this self-improvement inventory at home in my spiral notebook — but without a life coach or gut-wrenching resolve the inertia of even flagrantly self-destructive habits can mock and weary like a winter stroll through the Alps.