Herr Donald, Sheriff Joe, Hurricane Harvey, and the Fate of the Republic

Photo by Caravan 4 Peace | CC BY 2.0

Good Timing

Let history record that the leading climate change-denier and eco-exterminist, arch-authoritarian petro-capitalist United States President Donald Trump threatened to shut-down the federal government as the capitalogenically cooked waters in the Gulf of Mexico swirled on their path to an epic tropical storm that would epically flood Houston and much of southeast Texas in a matter of days.

The president’s moronic threat came at the peak of the hurricane season.  It was made at a white-nationalist campaign-style rally in Phoenix. There Trump heaped praise on a former and recently federally convicted county sheriff who tortured and murdered a moderate Mexican village’s worth of predominantly Latino jail inmates across a long reign of racist police-state terror in Arizona. At this noxious assembly, Trump strongly hinted that he would soon pardon the fascist sheriff.  The Racist Dog Whistler-in-Chief also doubled down on his sickening defense of the frenzied racists who oppose the tearing down of statues honoring “heroes” of the Southern Confederacy (1861-1865), which waged a war on Washington – a war that killed 750,000 Americans in order to defend the system of Black chattel slavery. Meanwhile. high-tech storm troopers charged, shooting rubber bullets and “pepper balls” at liberal and left protesters outside in the sweltering heat.

Trump’s threat to collapse the federal government is presumably on hold in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which has white Texas Republican congressman demanding massive federal assistance for their stricken regions.  Some of these Congressmen were against special federal assistance for the victims of Hurricane Sandy five years ago.  This was for a very simple and sociopathic reason: that also giant and not-so “natural disaster” (an earlier attempt by Mother Nature to wake America up to the grave dangers posed by “anthropogenic climate change”) befell the liberal New York City area – enemy territory in their world view.

Republicans are not unaware that the openly moronic George W. Bush’s glaringly ham-fisted (non-) response to Hurricane Katrina (an earlier educational effort on Mother Nature’s part) was part of how even the dismal, dollar-drenched Democrats swept into federal “power” in 2006 and 2008.

Why did Trump threaten a federal shut-down? To scare Congress into funding the construction his idiotic, criminally racist and unnecessary extension of the U.S. border wall between Mexico and the U.S.

You’d think His Royal Sociopathic Highness would lay off the threat with Houston and other Texas towns and cities underwater, but you’d be wrong. Just yesterday (I am writing on the morning of Tuesday, August 29th), the orange-tinted beast doubled down on his Wall-warning even as news and images of the epic Texas deluge flooded the airwave and Internet. The wicked racist Asshole-in-Chief said he doubted that the Wall question would force a shutdown, but he still wouldn’t swear off the bizarre and chilling tactic. “I hope that’s not necessary. If it’s necessary, we’ll have to see,” he vomited.

Ruling Class…Hello?

Isn’t it about time for the United States “intelligence community” to show the aberrant ruling class idiot Donald Trump the latest digitally enhanced version of the Zapruder film again and ask for a second time if he has any questions?  The blustering, Twitter-addicted dickhead in the White House is a demented megalomaniac and malignant narcissist who cannot be trusted with the remarkable powers of the U.S. presidency. Absurdly and chillingly enough, he sees himself as a genetically superior uber-being above normal bourgeois law, constitution, party, and morality.  He should be nowhere near the nation’s nuclear codes and civil emergency command. A recent Newsweek reflection on the Tyrant’s widespread unpopularity reflects on developments in the two weeks leading up to Hurricane Harvey, which Trump probably welcomes for the partial news-cycle relief it grants to his unspeakable awfulness:

“There’s the ongoing investigation into his ties to Russia, the failed Republican plan to gut Obamacare, his threats of nuclear war with North Korea and, most recently, Trump’s insistence on equating Nazi marchers in Virginia to the people counter-protesting the event, even after a white supremacist drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring many more.  ‘I think there is blame on both sides,’ the president said to reporters. ‘You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now.’”

A serious question: what kind of self-respecting national bourgeoisie and “power elite” permits this kind of behavior in the White House?

“Try to Impeach Him, Just Try It”

It is not clear that this Insane Clown President will accept removal through electoral, legal, or parliamentary means. He is a strong candidate to find, provoke, and/or concoct pretexts for declaring a national emergency requiring the interruption of normal civil liberties.  He might well try to holdup the 2018 and/or 2020 elections, figuring that he could find support for such actions from a significant part of his white nationalist base. A recent Washington Post poll shows that 56 percent of Republicans would back Trump’s decision to suspend the 2020 elections if “necessary” to block alleged mythical immigrant vote fraud.

The Orange Ass-Face sends messages threatening violence to those who might contemplate using the U.S. Constitution to annul his horrific, knuckle-dragging presidency.  One of Trump’s good friends and political advisors, Roger Stone, recently told reporters that any Congresspersons who vote for Trump’s impeachment will be “killed” by an outraged populace.

Stone is a long-time Trump confidant and former official in Richard Nixon’s administration.  He told the entertainment website, TMZ that impeachment (supported by an incredible 40% of Americans just eight months into Trump’s reign) proceedings would lead to an armed uprising among the Orange Beast’s supporters:

“Try to impeach him, just try it. You will have a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection like you’ve never seen. The people will not stand for impeachment. A politician that votes for it would be endangering their own life.”

Asked if he believed there would be “some sort of civil war” if Trump was impeached, Stone replied: “Yes, that’s what I think will happen. Both sides are heavily armed… There would be violence on both sides.”

Who would the vanguard of the “outraged populace” be? The neo-fascist militia sorts for whom Trump recently gave noxious cover and canine-whistle support in the wake of white-supremacist rallying and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Imagine Trump BFF Stone’s fantastic scenario playing out. Would the nation’s police forces intervene to stop Stone’s threatened “insurrection like [we’ve] never seen”? That’s not clear. In a Police Magazine poll conducted on the eve of the election last year, Donald Trump was the choice of 84% of working police officers surveyed.  Trump won wide support from police unions across the country with his racist “law and order” campaign. The Fraternal Order of Police, which represents more than 330,000 law enforcement officers, endorsed presidential candidate Trump, who insanely called for a “national stop-and-frisk law” to stop violence in the nation’s unmentionably hyper-impoverished and badly oppressed, police-terrorized, and incarceration-ravaged Black ghettoes.

Stone’s absurd claim that liberals and leftists are “well-armed” is another high-placed Republican dog whistle to the violent right within and beyond the police state. Along with Trump’s ridiculous claim that the small left group Antifa was just as responsible as the white supremacists for the violence in Charlottesville, it is an ominous green light for cops to crack down viciously on left and liberal protestors.

“Sheriff Joe”

Trump’s absurd pardon of the former longtime Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio (announced just days after the Phoenix rally) sends a dangerous message of encouragement to racist cops and border patrol agents across the country. Arpaio was recently convicted by a federal judge in connection with his long record of illegally profiling and detaining Latinos. For many years, the diabolical ogre Arpaio headed a racist and fascistic police state that murdered hundreds of jail inmates. The “great American Sheriff Joe” (Trump’s sickening words) killed his mostly Latino victims through heat exhaustion, dehydration, miserable nutrition, medical neglect, labor exploitation, isolation, and induced suicide. Behold to one Latino’s recollection of a year he spent in Arpaio’s infamous sweltering “tent-city” jail on a DUI charge:

I arrived at one of Arpaio’s several ‘tent cities,’ outdoor jails where inmates shelter in army tents, mostly exposed to the Arizona elements. I was there on a work furlough program, meaning that I was allowed to leave to work during the day. Every day after work, I would return to the jail and spend the night in the tents. Each Sunday was spent entirely in the jail.

The rules of the tent city were strict, arbitrary and brutally enforced. There are no newspapers allowed; Arpaio hated newspapers. The only food allowed for those of us in the work furlough program was the food in the vending machines, which was grossly overpriced.

During the sweltering summer, the temperature could reach 115 or 120 degrees. I was in the tents when we hit 120. It was impossible to stay cool in the oppressive heat. Everyone would strip down to their underwear. There was no cold water, only water from vending machines; and eventually, the machines would run out. People would faint; some had heatstroke. That summer, ambulances came about three times. One man died in his bed.”

But the winter was even worse. During the winter, there were no heaters. Most jackets and heavily insulated pants weren’t allowed; they don’t want you to be comfortable.

When the temperatures dropped, we were forced to come up with makeshift ways to keep ourselves warm. The showers were kept scalding hot during both summer and winter. We hated to shower, but we would fill our empty water bottles up with the nearly boiling water and put the bottles between our blankets when it was freezing outside. We also would save the plastic bags we found when we cleaned up the jail yard and wrap our feet with them, tucking hot water bottles inside to keep our feet warm while we slept.

Still, it was freezing, achingly cold. I was in so much pain that winter that now, when I’m cold, it reminds me of being there.

Arpaio saved worse abuse for others. Those who were in full detention had to wear pink socks, underwear and flip-flops. They ate peanut butter and bread, and the only other meal they received was baloney and bread. They also had the option of ‘slob,’ which was an unknown, disgusting substance that looked like some kind of thick stew and tasted like cardboard. (The poor people in the work furlough program who couldn’t pay for vending-machine food had no choice but to eat it.)

This was Arpaio’s fascist and racist Hell, fatal for dozens upon dozens of brown-skinned inmates.  “Sheriff Joe” unabashedly called his murderous “tent-city” jails as “concentration camps.” As NBC commentator and attorney Raul Reyes noted last Saturday:

What Arpaio did amounted to gross violations of human and civil rights…He denied medical attention to diabetics and people with HIV who were in his care. He had women working in chain gangs. He deliberately humiliated prisoners by making them wear pink underwear, keeping them in these tent cities, also parading them around in front of the news media for his own publicity purposes. He himself referred to these tent cities as a ‘concentration camp.’ Those are his own words…And as bad as this all sounds, these are only the tip of the iceberg.

In announcing Trump’s pardon of the Maricopa Monster, the White House said that Fascist Joe gave “years of admirable service to our nation.” The administration called him a “worthy candidate for a presidential pardon.” Orange Ass-Face described the jackbooted racist Arpaio “an American patriot” in a tweet later last Friday. “He kept Arizona safe!” the president added.

The nation’s many racist police-state operatives walked with a little more pep in their proto-fascistic steps after hearing that.

President don’t generally pardon people until the end of their time in office.  Trump decided to pardon a murderous racist and fascist prior even to sentencing (might that be more obstruction of justice?) in just the eighth month of his malicious presidency.

El Donito’s Ugly Calculation

Herr Trump is plagued by the most consistently and epically low approval numbers (now at a pathetic 35% approval and a whopping 60% disapproval) of any first-year U.S. president in the history of modern polling. The majority of the populace likely now sees him as unfit for the presidency.

Trump has willfully alienated even many of the top Congressional Republicans who signed their name in the Black Book of the TrumpDevil in the hope that he would help pass their radically regressive and reactionary agenda.

Meanwhile, the nation awaits a special federal prosecutor’s report on the Royal Brute’s real and/or alleged Russian ties – a report that could spark the beginning of impeachment proceedings.

A former National Intelligence Director James Clapper and a sitting top Republican U.S. Senator (Bob Corker of Tennessee) have publicly questioned whether Trump has the competence and stability required for his position – something that raises the specter of 25th Amendment removal.

What could possibly be going on El Donito’s twisted brain? Certainly, one set of messages flickering around his malevolent neural pathways tells him that he can exploit or concoct some kind of national emergency/shock/crisis that will boost his popularity (remember the openly idiotic George W. Bush’s skyrocketing public approval numbers after September 11th) and/or allow him to put what’s left of American democracy on police-state ice.  In an authoritarian pinch, the Clockwork Orangutan likely calculates that he can count on muscle from the nation’s vast gendarme class, including 431,600 prison guards, 766,000 police officers, 1 million plus military enlistees358,000 National Guardsmen,  1 million-plus private security guards, not to mention its untold tens of thousands of private mercenaries, and  500-plus militia groups

Exit pollsters reported that 60 percent of Americans with past military records backed NapoleDon BonaTrump in the 2016 election.  Just 34 percent of the nation’s veterans (92% of whom are male) voted for the “lying neoliberal warmonger” Hillary “My Turn” Clinton.

Military enlistees preferred Trump over Clinton by a nearly 3 to 1 margin in a Military Times poll last fall.

A Very Destructive Ideology

Again, and again, the population is told that going into a two-[capitalist-] party ballot box for two minutes once every four years is a great and glorious exercise in popular self-rule. As Howard Zinn reflected on the “the election madness” he saw “engulfing the entire society including the left” as fake-progressive Barack Obamania took hold in the spring of 2008: “the election frenzy…seizes the country every four years because we have all been brought up to believe that voting is crucial in determining our destiny, that the most important act a citizen can engage in is to go to the polls.”

Under the American religion of voting, Noam  Chomsky told Dan Falcone and Saul Isaacson last year, “Citizenship means every four years you put a mark somewhere and you go home and let other guys run the world. It’s a very destructive ideology… basically, a way of making people passive, submissive objects…[we] ought to teach kids that elections take place but that’s not politics.”

What happens when the U.S. ruling-class let’s one of “the other guys [who] run the world” be a vicious and quasi-fascistic, arch-narcissistic thug atop the most powerful and deadly office on Earth? We the People are then compelled like never before to transcend the deadening definition of democratic political participation as a once-every-1460 days 2-minute vote for one of two terrible major party candidates and to figure out how to form a durable popular insurgency beneath and beyond the nation’s ever more absurd, populace-marginalizing, and time-staggered election spectacles.

Along with his perceived backing from the nation’s giant police state and gendarme class, Trump is smart enough to sense that tens of millions of Americans have been turned like the proverbial slowly boiling frogs into the empty shell of an ex-citizenry: “passive, submissive objects.”

Herr Donald is a sadist.  He would relish an opportunity to beat up like no American tyrant before on the defenseless cripple that is “We the People” in today’s “corporate-managed democracy” – a  simultaneously Huxlean and Orwellian nightmare zone of “inverted totalitarianism” and an Armed Madhouse to boot.  Think of Trump as a Great White Shark, a big stupid brute who is sufficiently sentient to smell the blood in the murky waters of what’s left of “really existing capitalist democracy” – what Chomsky darkly and rightly calls “RECD, pronounced as ‘wrecked.’”


Hurricane Harvey is yet another deadly reminder that Nature Bats Clean-Up and will not let homo sapiens off the hook for letting its capitalist “elite” drive global temperature to deadly extremes with excessive carbon emissions that are a direct consequence of modern capitalism’s lethal addiction to endless accumulation, commodification, and quantitative “growth.”  It is darkly suggestive that the Earth Mother has now targeted Houston, a leading capital city of corporate and eco-cidal Big Carbon situated in the vanguard petro-capitalist state of Texas.  But, of course, most of the Houstonians and Texans struggling to survive this catastrophe have never been consulted on the nation’s energy policy and deserve our support in this time of need.  We must demand that our “democratically elected” representatives provide essential federal assistance and reconstruction dollars and resist all efforts by corporate-capitalist America to use Harvey as an opportunity for more privatization and repression on the model of Katrina.  In the meantime, as we are stuck with inadequate public services in this noxious neoliberal New Gilded Age and Koch Brother era, it is essential for those who can afford it to contribute to voluntary associations engaged in humanitarian relief in southeast Texas.

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Paul Street’s latest book is This Happened Here: Amerikaners, Neoliberals, and the Trumping of America (London: Routledge, 2022).