Absurdity and Impunity Reign in the Time of Don and Rahm

Photo Source Becker1999 | CC BY 2.0

Absurdity Reigns in the terrible time of Donald Trump. Just five days apart, the tangerine miscreation went from calling the right-wing Supreme Court appointee Brett Kavanaugh’s primary accuser, Dr. Christine Blassey Ford, a great person and a good witness to openly mocking her painful recollections of sexual assault in front of thousands of laughing white brutes in Mississippi.

The arch-sexist genital grabber-in-chief has a nasty habit of siding with men accused of beating and sexually abusing women: Roger Ailes, Rob Porter, Judge Ray Moore…the list goes on.  I’m guessing that only Bill Cosby’s technical Blackness cost him a Trumpian soft pardon on epic sex crimes.

Remember this from 2015:  “Trump Mocks Report with a Disability”? I was reminded of that clip when I beheld the president’s disgraceful assault on Blasey-Ford. Former Trump backers who claim to be “surprised” at how awful he is should be forced to wear a bright orange dunce cap for one month and to watch clips like this and numerous other ones just as bad from 2015 and 2016 (and before).

Every reptilian-brained cretin who not only voted for the creeping-fascist Trump but also still defends him should be shunned, rejected, quarantined, and generally viewed with guarded contempt.

On a more humorous note, Trump managed amidst the Kavanaugh circus to Tweet out something about how he and his fellow Orwellian Kim Jong-un, “fell in love” during their intimate encounters earlier this year.  We all await the touching and provocative memoir that will one day emerge from their rocket summits.

The nation experienced a cell phone national presidential security test last Wednesday afternoon. A correspondent wrote to say “My first thought? Twitter finally, FINALLY yanked his account.”

My first thought was “instructions on where to report for transportation to internment camps?”

My cell phone made a strange noise and got the urgent message: “Presidential Alert…No Action is Required.”

I liked that. “No Action is Required.  Continue to Live in Demobilized Isolation and Individualized Mass Consumerism. We’ve Got Things Under Control.”

“It’s all good. Three people have as much net worth between as the bottom 50% in the U.S.  The profits system is wrecking livable ecology. Racist mass incarceration is still intact. But No Action is Required!”

The New York Times reported this week that the silver spoon tax-cheat billionaire-in-chief did not in fact pull himself up by his bootstraps and actually built on a fortune inherited from his rich, racist tax-cheating daddy. The president isn’t a “self-made billionaire.” I thought I already knew that, but the detailed report was useful.

A smart left political scientist I know wrote me to say that “No person of integrity who’s studied this question believes that ‘self-made’ millionaires or billionaires have ever existed. It’s a monstrous myth.” I don’t like myths in general, but I particularly don’t like monstrous ones, I say with (I hope) integrity.  I agree of course that any billionaire or millionaire is socially, societally, and institutionally produced. Same for poverty and inequality

Reflecting on the Timesstory, the jaded New Yorker Craig Gordon wrote to remind me of Bob Dylan’s line: “Steal a little and they put you in jail, steal a lot and they make you king.”

All of which, and El Donito in general, reminded me of a lesser bard, Springsteen’s ’s line: “Poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king, and the king ain’t satisfied til he [rules?] everything…”

That’s part of what the sickening Kavanaugh nomination is about – helping Trump be king. A little forgotten background: How did the gross orange sex-offender get the Christian right on board in 2016? By handing it the Vice Presidency and promising the Federalist Society the power to name judicial nominees across the federal bench, not just the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh wasn’t even on the Federalist Society’s original submission list. The accused rapist and clear repeat liar moved up for one reason: his position on behalf of executive privilege and immunity. (He is also a former author of the legal “justifications” for the torture policies of George W. Bush, who touched America’s heart by giving Michelle Obama a bipartisan cough drop at war criminal John McCain’s funeral. Michelle’s husband, by the way, provided liberal cover for Dubya’s criminal practices during his 8 years as the Empire’s New Clothes. Michelle’s “candy” friend George has come out strong for “Good Job Brett.”).

I am amused by how many liberals have described Trump to me as “anti-American” and “not what America is about.” Hello? I loathe the orange monstrosity as much as, if not more than, they do, but, no, I’m sorry, Trump is as U.S.-American as apple pie and McDonalds hamburgers.   Hucksterism. Obscene wealth acquisition by corrupt means. Narcissism. Racism. Nativism. Carnival-barking boosterism. Plutocracy. Fake populism. Sexism. Militarism. It’s all pretty damn U.S.-American. “Also,” Victoria Wilson writes me, “mindless consumerism, excessive militarism, filthy ecocide and a pathetic and lying attempt to sugar coat the violent beginnings here.”

(Somewhat down-scaled versions of people like Kavanaugh are no small part of why I made the decision not to attend high school a long time ago. Funny, the first time I saw Kavanaugh’s face, I thought to myself: “looks like a nasty rich white, ‘Animal House’ frat boy.” Just a first impression.)

I enjoyed the moniker of one of the Yale alumni who dared to question Kavenaugh’s false image of himself as a chaste choir boy in high school and college: Chad Ludington. How perfect an Ivy League name is that? Sounds like a character in The Great Gatsby.

Liberal and other Democrats want you to see the Kavanaugh nomination as an argument for voting and, of course, or voting Democrat. Okay, but think of it also and/or instead as the latest outrage that demonstrates the basic underlying illegitimacy of the U.S. state and its thoroughly rotten class-rule charter.  The U.S. state’s institutions, processes, structures, founding documents, legal system, and (so much) more are wretched and oligarchic to the core. Its political and underlying economic and social processesare corrupt, un- and even anti-democratic at heart.

It was good to see people occupying parts of the U.S. Capitol yesterday in response to the authoritarian and sexist absurdity of the Kavanaugh nomination process. Sure, it sometimes looks goofy, but our only hope starts with mass and long-term rebellion and the collapse of absurd and hierarchical structures like the U.S. capitalist and imperial state. Consent to unjust power and undeserved authority must be actively, militantly, and permanently withdrawn. It is very important to rebel. It’s only the first step, but you haven’t lived until you’ve rebelled alongside others, the more and more militantly the better – along with a coherent set of demands and a vision of alternative programs and institutions and an alternative society.

As South Sider (of Chicago), I could not feel too much pain over the total, season-ending humiliation of the Chicago Cubs: two different teams celebrating post-season victories on their home field two days in a row (the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday and the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday).  I found this disgraceful exit especially delicious in light of Yahoo Sports’ revelation that the right-wing oligarch and Cubs owner Todd Ricketts funds ads that support the open liar,  accused rapist, and right-wing torture advocate Kavanaugh’s “strong moral character.”

So long, Kavanaugh Cubbies! The next World Series in the North Side’s super-white Wrigleyville is scheduled for 2087, by which time Rickett’s beloved profits system will have long melted the Antarctic if is not abolished first in the name of the common(s) good.

On a more serious note. A 12-year old boy named Naser Misbeh was killed by an Israeli sniper last week. U.S. so-called mainstream media didn’t care.  It was a non-issue for all the All Trump All the Time talking heads. They could barely bring themselves to mention the epic natural disaster that killed thousands in Indonesia given the hostile takeover of the news cycle by the president’s nauseating Supreme Court nominee.

Speaking of cities, the racist killing of children by gendarmes, and Chicago, two potential and nationally significant acts of gross impunity are nearing critical moments as I write. I’ve already mentioned the first one: the Kavanaugh nomination. The second one is a jury verdict on the savage and racist 16-shot murder of the Black 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by the white Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke nearly four years ago. This Wednesday, Truthdig published my account of that hideous killing, the broader context of urban racial and police state oppression within which it occurred, and the racial politics that have followed in Chicago up through Van Dyke’s murder trial, which came to closing arguments yesterday. You can read my report here.

It’s hard to imagine Van Dyke being exonerated.  The widely viewed tape of the murder he committed – a dashcam video that activist journalists Jamie Kalven and Brendan Smith finally forced into public more than a year after the killing (leading to mass protests and the charging of Van Dyke) – is just too clear about what happened. The prosecution’s case for premeditated murder is strong. The weak defense argument includes the openly absurd claim that McDonald’s little knife posed a serious threat to Van Dyke while the youth lay dying in the street and the officer pumped more bullets into him.

Still, I’ve learned not to count out the possibilities of racist absurdity again and again. Even though Chicago is one third Black, the 12-person Van Dyke jury has just one Black person. That’s absurd. The jury contains a young woman who has applied to be a Chicago police officer and has aspired to hold that job since age 12.  That’s also absurd.

Speaking of race/racism, Van Dyke’s attorney put the officer on the stand three days ago. “His [Laquan’s] face had no expression, his eyes were just bugging out of his head,” Van Dyke said. “He had these huge white eyes, just staring right through me,” he told the jury.

“Huge white eyes” that were “bugging out of his head”? At best, Van Dyke’s language is highly racialized. At worst, it’s overtly and absurdly racist.

What kind of expression did Van Dyke have on his face while he launched a fusillade of bullets into the stricken youth? How big did Van Dyke’s eyes get while he made the dying body of Laquan twitch with each new shot, smoke rising from each new bullet hole, as the stricken teenager lay in a fetal position?

It’s not for nothing that the Chicago police, fire, school, and other authorities and business are preparing for significant disturbances in the event of a not-guilty verdict.  Could Chicago explode? Every activist and observer I’ve spoken to here says the chances of mass protest and disturbances are high, because the city’s black neighborhoods are full of young people fed up with brutal and racist policing and the savage race-class inequality and segregation that it enforces.

That the city’s noxious Zionist and corporatist Mayor Rahm Emanuel, widely hated in the black community, is leaving could temper things. Much of what drove huge city protests over the Laquan killing in 2015 was Black anger over how Emanuel and his city allies had tried to cover up the murder and the tape.   Emanuel’s recent announcement that he won’t run for a third term next year is very much about how his handling of the incident solidified his alienation of Black Chicago, whose neighborhoods he has starved of public investment while he has showered tax cuts and other subsidies on rich and powerful commercial and real estate interests in wealthy and whiter parts of the city.

At the same time, the fact that “Mayor Rhambo”—a great lover of the militarized urban police state who volunteered for the Israeli Defense Force twice  and rolled out a vast high-tech repressive apparatus to intimidate anti-NATO protesters in 2012—no longer has to worry about losing black votes could help entice him to order a harsh crackdown on protests.

My prediction throughout has been guilty on second- but not first-degree murder.

My other prediction: If it’s “not guilty,” there will be hell to pay.

Help Street keep writing here.

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