Politics smells like Meat 2018

The president’s press secretary, former Republican presidential aspirant Mike Huckabee’s daughter, recently praised what she called Donald Trump’s impressive accomplishments in 2017.   He had given everybody a historically huge tax break, she said, while slashing regulations to allow entrepreneurs, and all Americans, to prosper.

Admittedly, that’s one spin to give to the president’s accomplishments so far. [1]   Don’t forget his appointment of a single-minded corporate extremist, to the right of Scalia, to lifetime tenure on the U.S. Supreme Court.  Appointing a dependable right-wing political zealot really pleased his base.  Mr. Smartypants Constitutional Law Professor Obama sure couldn’t do that for his adoring rainbow base!

I was impressed by the recent remarks of a Republican senator from Colorado, Cory Gardner by name, made while standing up for an actual democratic principle in the Senate.   This is something that neither party is particularly good at, and I thought Mr. Gardner’s stand against logically inconsistent partisan political lock-step was laudable.  Here is the essence of his principled remarks (as selected by the Godless commies at Democracy Now!).  A tip of the yarmulke to Senator Cory Gardner.  Good for you, sir.  Good for you!

Meanwhile, the party of the slightly left of corporate center, the Democratic party, (or Democrat party as the southern boys now call it, coyly refraining from so much as a hint of the familiar n-word) was busy getting rid of one of their most articulate and publicly visible Senators over yucky allegations of uninvited kissing and touching that took place before he was in the Senate.   The party of principles!  No point setting a precedent — the accused himself calling for an ethics investigation to decide his fate.  No, sir.  He must resign, immediately.  No political future for someone who could ever do something like that. 

Even though the precedent of the accused calling for an ethics investigation of his own behavior, and the ethics committee making a ruling on, and setting a punishment for, this vexing, widespread, suddenly publicly spotlit problem, would extend the real conversation about how to fix it for good, at least in the halls and chambers of the political whorehouse in question, Congress. 

Tongue kissing a Playboy model, who didn’t want to be kissed, before you went into politics is wrong and gross.  It is offensive and should not  be tolerated.  The offender himself acknowledged this.

Then the offended at the zero tolerance party of the politically correct (donor), always playing to their proven “Identity Politics” demographic, got to work.   It doesn’t matter that the victim publicly accepted Franken’s sincere and groveling apology, what he did was disgusting and intolerable (no matter when it took place).   According to his generally spineless blue colleagues, backs suddenly stiffened, he must face the lightning quick no- jury-needed justice every cattle rustler in the old west used to face, if caught, or strongly suspected, or accused, or a stranger.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if the Republicans, the party that has no public beef with powerful men who grope and harass, elected the first female president?  Wouldn’t surprise me, those far-right punks know how to fight to win on a national scale.  My mother, as she was dying, begged me to promise her that Sarah Palin would never be president of the U.S.   I did.  Not so sure now, after this prissy winner who is our current president managed to bully, bitchslap and gerrymander his way to an impressive (unless closely examined) Electoral College win.  It won’t be Ms. Palin, but it could well be some other equally unqualified creep.

We have fake news, left and right, in our corporately consolidated, post-Fairness Doctrine mass media.  Top-rated Rachel Maddow, for example, who my mother used to love, who I used to enjoy watching, has pulled her share of howlers.  The good folks on the right who grossly distort empirical reality need no introduction.   Their fans simply do not care if they bend the truth a bit, or make up some things about the people they hate, or omit details needed to grasp the full context of statements or events.   We believe what our emotional biases tell us is true: the confirmation bias.   

The person who hated Trump, and, during the viciously gladiatorial election campaign, got a facebook link to a story about Trump and Sheldon Adelson gang-banging a 13 year-old in a Vegas hotel room was about as likely to forward it as the person who hated Hillary and got the bit about her pedophilia emporium in the basement of a pizza place (that has no basement) was likely to forward that equally rancid piece of incitement.   When we hate, it is easy to believe the worst about the Other.

And when the fight is vicious, and ugly, and neither of the two champions is particularly likable, it is hard not to hate. When we hate, the insula section of our brain lights up, shutting down critical faculties.  When we are enraged we are actually biologically incapable of nuanced critical thought.

The brilliant Yuval Noah Harari (who refers to himself as both historian and scientist) notes the difference between intelligence and consciousness.  They are closely related in humans and other highly sentient creatures, and are often thought of as the same thing, but they are distinct from each other.  Intelligence is our ability to think, use language to communicate, solve problems.   Consciousness is our awareness of everything around us, our ability to feel.  Both are involved in creativity and problem solving. 

Only consciousness makes us able to perceive the suffering of other sentient creatures.   The industrial age, made possible by scientifically organized intelligence, led inexorably to what is sometimes referred to as the Anthropocene era– the present epoch, in which humans have developed the ability to destroy all life on the planet, many times over.  Intelligent people can argue over what price may be “worth” the destruction of most of the earth’s population, most of its animal and plant species.  Conscious people, who can feel the suffering of other sentient creatures, are less likely to argue about how much death or extinction is “acceptable” in reaching maximum profit.   

Intelligence (and its appearance) is valued greatly in our society.  Consciousness, which includes the capacity to experience joy, to suffer and to feel empathy for the suffering of others, sadly, not as much.  Too much consciousness is bad for business, downright unAmerican.

Meanwhile, politics continues to smell like meat.  In a world of wildly self-justifying jive talking cannibals. 

 

[1]  We should leave aside, for purposes of this post, that the lion’s share of the tax breaks go, in perpetuity (under this law) to the wealthiest Americans and those profit-driven, psychopathic “persons,” the legally animated multi-billionaires we call corporations.  Also, that the modest tax breaks for the lower brackets of the tax table are phased out over the next few years.  Why let those losers share in an economy meant for the benefit of our greatest winners?

As for the slashing of all government regulation, and the gutting of all regulatory agencies, putting those protections back in place will take a long time.  A new government can recalibrate the President’s grotesque new tax law but it could take years — if ever–  to undo some of the damage President Fuckface’s (crap! I meant to type “President Trump”, damn those fingers…) crippling of regulatory agencies will cause.

Take just the tip of the iceberg — the environmental impact of deregulation.  Opening millions of acres, on land and in coastal waters, for fossil fuel extraction?   Hey, what could go wrong?  It’s not as though offshore oil spills are any kind of concern.  Not only short-sighted, greedy and stupid but dangerous and, actually, evil — not to put too fine a point on it.  Our extractive economic model, heavy on disposables and eternally accumulating toxins, is unsustainable, we need a regenerative model if humans are to have any future on this little planet.

On the one hand we have the longterm habitability of our planet, its ability to sustain life.  On the other hand, massively increased profits for fossilized, super-wealthy ubermenschen like Charles and David Koch, two of the fifty most important people on the earth.   It’s no mystery which side of this existential argument the enraged and unbalanced dotard-in-chief and the Koch Brother’s favorite Vice Presidential uber-Christian are on.   It’s, truly, a no-brainer.

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