The Muck We’re In

“Shifty Adam Schiff is a CORRUPT POLITICIAN, and probably a very sick man. He has not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!”

– Twitter, Jan. 26, 2020

“She’s a nasty, vindictive, horrible person.”

– President Trump, speaking of Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi

“It’s a totally upside-down world.”

– Senator Chris Van Hollen

Let’s just survey the muck in the impeachment field in which we are now:

The favor Trump wanted from Zelensky was please clean up the corruption in your country before I send you any aid money Congress wanted you to have;

Even if there were a quid pro quo, it would not amount to an impeachable offense but rather an example of Trump’s clever deal making ways on behalf of national security;

Rudy Giuliana, America’s Mayor, was once again fighting corruption in the Ukraine on behalf of national security while the Bidens were profiteering on behalf of family greed;

Abuse of power is more clearly shown by the House of Representatives than by President Trump insofar as they have launched an unconstitutional impeachment against his executive power;

The President did not abuse his power corruptly for personal and political gain because he told no one that was what he did, and if evidence and testimony conclude that was precisely what he did, the “Get Trump” partisanship of the Democrats corrupted such by conducting an unfair and unconstitutional impeachment process, for which they, specifically Adam Schiff, who “has not yet paid the price, on behalf of the country;”

Just as those responsible for initiating the Mueller investigation are now under investigation, Pelosi, Schiff, Schumer, and others should be investigated by Attorney General Barr’s office for jeopardizing national security and Constitutional authority;

Subpoenas for witnesses issued by the House should be ignored by right of Presidential executive privilege which can be extended to wherever a President in an impeachment inquiry wishes to extend it;

Failure to comply with a House subpoena should be sent to the courts and its appeals process and impeachment await those results, thus passing House impeachment responsibility to the judiciary. Failure to do so by the House subjects them to obstruction of justice charges;

Impeachment of a president undermines the voice of The People who have elected him and that election makes him Teflon proof against any charges that he is acting on his own behalf and not on behalf of The People;

The Congress needs to accept President Trump’s assertion: “I can do whatever I want as President” and so forget about their Constitutional oversight of the presidency

As press secretary Stephanie Grisham has said: The Democrats seem to hate Trump so much that “they’re willing to be on the side of countries and leadership of countries who want to kill Americans” and not on the side of the authoritarian leaders Trump admires;

We must heed the closing argument of lawyer Cipollone — “All you need in this case is the Constitution and your common sense. You know what the right answer is in your heart. You know what the right answer is for your country. You know what the right answer is for the American people – even though Trump was impeached for Constitutional violations and the American people are mired in the muck of contesting “right” answers.

About half the country will nod in agreement at the statements above, the other half will feel that the world has been turned upside down.

Common sense is thus common with some, uncommon with others, indicating that there is no “common” understanding anymore, although every opining soul claims to be making sense.

We have more words, written and spoken, all in a bitter battle with each other, all engaged in a retreat to photos and videos to escape such rival claims to the truth words make.

This is a foundationally dangerous place in which we are now because if we don’t make a commonsense pathway through the muck, we may be giving a “truly nasty, vindictive, horrible person” a second term as president.

President Trump has escaped so many clear impeachable violations of his office that we can expect such success will embolden him to mobilize all those who defend and swear allegiance to him to fight with him against his possible defeat in the 2020 presidential election.

The muck will thicken. The Senate’s failure to convict will almost immediately result in further impeachable actions by Trump. Like the scorpion on the back of the frog: it’s in his nature.

A fear that Trump will have another term keeps Senate Republicans compliant during this trial, causing them to make a deal, too ignoble to be called Faustian, with a presidential candidate whose followers vote for him and not for the party. The alternative to this selling of their souls is to convict him and run the risk of a Warren or Sanders presidency.

There is more fear on the Republican side in that possibility than fear of what a totally unleashed second term Trump may do to everything but their investment portfolio.

The liberal side of the Green is Money affiliate, a clandestine affiliation couched firmly within both parties, is caught between their investment returns and a thorough dislike of Trump’s “temperament.” Thus, what swirls in the muck is this: compounding dividends vs. vile tweets.

Accordingly, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are looming dangers to not only invested Republicans but Democrats as well. The coded messaging of moderation of Klobuchar, Biden, and Buttigieg is thus no more than a signaling to the invested class that they have no intention of following Sanders and Warren in their attack on our economic system.

Once again, the DNC is likely to do all it can to subvert both Sanders and Warren, estimating that it is not only big corporate money and every Republican that will launch against either but also the wealth class in its own party.

We are divided on the validity of this description because we are divided on our ways of knowing, adrift now on a collapsed pathway to common understanding.

In too many cases a common understanding of what is true and real stands opposed to personal interests. We don’t understand because it is not in our financial interest to understand.

Such would explain an otherwise baffling attachment to such an embarrassment before all nations and all of U.S. history that we have in this current president.

Nevertheless, it is not in the financial interests of the Many to settle into the muck that a destruction of common understanding has created. We need more description of our collapsed pathway to common understanding. In no more lethal way has Trump undermined us than in this undermining of our pathways to mutual understanding, our ways of finding meaning in not only words and images but in events, chance or otherwise, our ways of bringing the world and our own lives to meaning that ground shared understanding.

When all this is turned topsy turvy, as it is in the present Senate trial, we either wake up or fall into a disarray not historically seen before, a disarray that also endangers a planet much in need of immediate recuperation. A second term Trump would be a catastrophe causing event.

We are experiencing a collapse of our own storage and retrieval processing even though we believe that our digital memory capacity and our instantaneous retrieval of anything brings us closer to true meanings of our world and ourselves.

By this last, I mean that a continuous nano second flow of digital information in the present disables our own personal storage of meaning and understanding. We’re being delivered stuff we can neither store nor sort. We leave the retrieval of this superfluity to a digital search engine, Google or Alibaba, for instance, replacing our own efforts to retrieve a cohering and developing depth and breadth of meaning and understanding.

Expecting cybertech to order its own disordering productions is comparable to looking to technology to remedy the planetary destructions it has created. However much methane cow farts could produce it would be difficult to imagine a global warming as we now are experiencing as a result. The pre-Industrial world was not heading for global warming. Plague, starvation, wars, enslavement, and septicemia were the past’s doom makers. Losing oneself in cyberspace would not have aided us in any of these real world threats to life.

It seems clear by now that we need to depend less on our tech ability to flood us with more and more speech as well as our much-heralded AI and robotic “mentality” to classify and retrieve it and much more on our own human intellectual and imaginative capacities.

In short, we need to interpret what is said and written in able ways so that meaning can be extracted and understanding result. And this is a development of our minds, not computer memory and speed.

Education comes first. Not an education guaranteeing semi-literacy by which one can read words but must look to “Influencers” as to what those words mean.

In a culture of volume and repetition, of bombarded rants launched in cyberspace, previously with very limited real-world access, semi-literacy is a greater danger than total illiteracy.

Jacques Ellul pointed out that illiteracy was protective against the arguments of power whereas semi-literacy put you at the mercy of power. I didn’t buy that argument when Elllul made it in Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes some fifty years ago because as an American, I saw no power so invasive that my own mind couldn’t defend itself. I see now that the manner of demagogue assault Trump has launched thrives in a muck previously inconceivable. His invasion of our understanding is a production of a post-truth temper and all its suspicions, all these now meshed with the rising anger of those our financialized, globalized economics had left out of the game.

All events since Trump took office tell us that we had not educated ourselves to a necessary resistant level, our minds offering no antidote to a confluence of demagoguery, precariat anger, an alternate online reality and its delivery systems, growth measured by profit alone, and profit driving education away from the processes of critical understanding. We can no longer deliver ourselves from the muck.

I could not envision a Reality-TV celebrity as President of the United States demagoguing endlessly on something called Twitter, a venue on which he has 55 million readers/followers/disciples. Both the new anti-foundational, anti-any authority outside one’s own voice plus the circuitry to disperse those voices like an endless cacophony of geese flying overhead brought Donald J. Trump to the stage.

With him has come an assault made by presidential power on what anything means, queuing up the entire Republic Party behind what this new Humpty Dumpty says anything is to mean.

It’s not the diversity and the differences it brings, which Trump assails, that has brought us to a chaos of personal meanings and understanding but the axiomatic advances of a dividing economics.

The fluidity of wealth which had previously generated mobility of all sorts, not least being economic, has now solidified on two levels: one a diminishing share of wealth and power of wage earners and the other, a rising share of wealth and power of those invested in the market and who derive their income from such investments.

This solidifying has corrupted meritocracy by preparing and supporting the already wealthy while disabling from such competition those already in a precariat condition.

What we can observe online and offline is that some percentage of Americans are flying the banner of privileged identity, that identity, white. The preference is for an assimilation of difference into cultural preferences regarding religion, ethics, politics, economics, family, marriage, work, play, and so on.

All this has run head on to a rising diversity and heterogeneity in the culture, as well as a political party devoted to identity politics, making the issue of equal justice extended to whatever differences come to our attention paramount.

In this divisive muck, what resident power does is direct the animosities and grievances of the former faction toward the latter group. Resident power is grounded in resident wealth; the politics of such are narrowed to a matter of taxation or burden on itself. Equal justice demands economic justice and so the diversity that some applaud, others, namely resident power, see only as costly to themselves. Power to protect privilege diminishes as power is extended to all others.

There is a questioning of the fairness of our economic system going on, but it is not being conducted by resident wealth nor by those who conflate political freedom with our “free” enterprise system.

Even though the precariat crosses party lines, those committed to standards the Tea Party had announced do not fight for change in the economic system. What is conservative is this politics of not opening the roads to wealth and power to those who have neither. What is conserved is always a defense against sharing.

The newly arriving to this country, those already long marginalized economically because of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, those seeking an efficient ladder to climb, incensed by its lack and the hardened path of economic mobility, cannot be corralled into a party defending resident wealth and the power that attends it.

If this description of the muckiest elements of the muck in which we find ourselves has any validity, the question to be asked is how to regain ways of knowing that will lead to a commonly shared grasp of meaning and thus a commonly shared understanding?

Joseph Phillip Natoli’s The New Utrecht Avenue novel trilogy is on sale at Amazon. Time is the Fire ended what began with Get Ready to Run and Between Dog & Wolf. Humour noire with counterpunches. .