The Glue Trap of The Daily Horror

“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.   Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”

                                                             ― Martin Luther King Jr. [1]


A friend told me the other day that he’d had a realistic anxiety dream that woke him in horror after a few hours of sleep.   A true nightmare that left him sitting bolt upright, breathing hard.  I empathized.  Shit, even in sleep, when you’re supposed to be relaxed, getting rest from all this, letting your body regenerate itself and regathering your strength, the daily horror all around us intrudes to rob you of that needed relief.  We talked about the dream for a moment then I expressed thankfulness that I rarely have such dreams (inviting Murphy, of course, to invoke his law).

Naturally, this morning, after maybe four hours of sleep, I woke up from a disturbing dream, not a nightmare, exactly, but disturbing enough to keep me from falling back asleep.   In the dream I’d been urged by an old friend to stop being such a hermit, to become friends with neighbors, people he’d met, who he touted as very nice people.   

These neighbors seemed friendly enough, until they began expressing their great admiration for Mr. Hitler, which was active and ongoing.   They considered Mr. Hitler a genius philosopher and benefactor of mankind and enthusiastically believed in the ideals of Nazism.   We eventually got into a violent confrontation over Mr. Hitler’s arguably one-sided view of human history.   It was several of them against me, and the facts we were disputing made no difference at all.

“Motherfuckers,” I thought as I sat up and realized that was going to be the end of my night’s sleep, “they got me too.”   

I checked my phone.   Herman Cain, wealthy black Trump supporter and former contestant for the Republican presidential nomination, had died of covid-19, contracted a month ago at Trump’s mask-free Tulsa rally.   

Louie Gohmert, vocal Representative from Texas, who proposed recently in Congress that the “Democrat” party be banned from the House of Representatives because they are the party of the KKK, a fiercely defiant “anti-Masker,” tested positive for covid-19 yesterday.   Gohmert does not allow his staff to work from home, social distance or wear masks in the office.  They were not wearing masks when he addressed them all personally in his office today, not wearing a mask himself (why would he?) to tell them he had covid-19.   They already knew, from this article on

Louie Gohmert said today that he probably got the disease from his mask, which he wears Texas-style, off his face around his neck, as he did at the recent Bill Barr hearing.  Some virus must have gotten on the mask, he said, and he must have breathed it in.   See, masks can kill you!  He said he’s taking the hydroxy now, like Mr. Trump claimed he was, like the dictatorial former military junta member leading Brazil to disaster, and the world’s second highest covid-19 infection and death rates, claimed he was when he became infected.

It’s a death cult, this science-denying, reasonable precaution-defying, mouth-breathing pandemic spreaders.   SO?  They love freedom and hate tyranny!   You got a fucking problem with that, puny earthling?

I’ve been trying to reassure worried friends that this idiotic death cult will not sweep all the same heedless criminals back into office in 2020.   I tell them that, after being pushed to accept increasingly unacceptable government by force, we have actually reached a national moment of conscience, a moral tipping point, that the margin of victory by the forces of ordinary human decency will be too big to rig.   

I point out that the military has not gone along with the would-be authoritarian’s command to forcefully clamp down on peaceful protesters.  Defense department leaders have distanced themselves from their Commander-in-Chief on this issue.   The courts still regularly uphold the laws that the president and his loyalists routinely violate.  They violate these laws still, true, (think of countless little Hispanic kids still in cages) and every norm of democracy, and the courts are now stacked with ideological rightwing zealots chosen for their loyalty, but still — we are a nation of laws. 

I emphasize to them that this is not a replay of 2016.  I point out that Biden, doddering, shit, sell-out, compromise candidate that he is, is not nearly as hated, or as awkward a politician, as Hillary “Benghazi” Clinton was — there won’t be the same reluctance by tens of millions to vote for him (as there was among millions who could not bring themselves to vote for Ms. Clinton) if it means getting rid of Mr. Trump, who has now proven what he is capable of, over and over.  And over.  And then doubled down on his bad bets, his cruel, divisive strategies. 

Then, in my dream, I find myself fighting with friendly Nazis who insist they would be my friends, if only I’d accept Mr. Hitler’s worldview.   I am suddenly stuck to the glue trap that is this present, perilous moment of human history.   With no clear way to band together in realtime with the millions of my countrymen and countrywomen who feel exactly as I do, I sit sweatily in front of a fan blowing hot air on me, fearing the worst again as the corporate Democrats continue to run the show, as they always do in the land where money talks and power walks. 

I think of the power of the irrational in human affairs, how every atrocity in history was committed by mobs whose blood was violently stirred by their masters.  I start recalling past Democratic presidential campaigns, particularly ones running weak, compromise candidates, where huge projected leads were squandered, and I begin to shudder too.  The fear in our United States of Fear is palpable and pervasive.

I found myself thinking about epigenetics again, the messages of despair deep in my DNA, or at least on approximately the same genetic level as my DNA.  After all, when my mother was a fifteen year-old girl, any of her twelve aunts and uncles who were sill alive, along with their families, and any of my mother’s surviving grandparents (and several were alive and corresponding with my young mother, until the letters stopped one day) were marched to a ravine on the northwestern edge of their Ukrainian town, shot and buried in layers in the soft dirt.   Shoot, that August, 1943 massacre was only of a few thousand souls, it’s not even recorded anywhere in the books, there were so many similar slaughters in those dark days of 1943.

My grandmother, by then an American citizen twenty years in the Bronx, was the only survivor from her large family.  My grandfather was the only survivor from his large family.   My mother was an only child.   When she was fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, was a word mentioned about all of these murdered relatives who suddenly stopped writing back to her?   I don’t know, but I’d wager not.   I myself rarely heard so much as a mention of any of them, even when I was old enough to start asking about them.

My grandmother drank more and more vodka as the years went by.   She was generally cheerful when she’d had enough vodka, with only flashes of weepiness and other wild emotions.  I never knew my grandfather drank vodka, but I once saw him down a good quantity like he was drinking cold water on a hot day.  It seems likely he did it more than that one time.   They were both silent about their painful losses, except for the fear they conveyed to me about the world.   Their fear was not passed on in any conscious way, but it wound up in how my genes allow me to organize myself to fight.

I assemble as many facts as I can.   I approach a position I find hateful and oppose it with arguments based on all the facts I can use.  I organize my thoughts, try to comb out excess emotion and express my ideas as clearly as possible.  I have achieved a reasonable degree of clarity in my writing.

I do this in a world that has no use for this kind of argument, this kind of unpaid, involuntary writing.  Sure, everybody I respect pretty much operates somewhat this way, you know, show me convincing evidence that I’m wrong, I’ll change my behavior.  The fear creeps in looking around at the world beyond my close circle, a world not ruled this way.  A world where irrationality is King.  

The graph of coronavirus infection is shaped like a pyramid in most countries.   Infections spread, authorities started to act, figured out what worked and what didn’t, as rates continued to climb, at the peak the “curve” was eventually flattened and began to decline.   The US graph, like Brazil’s, like Russia’s, is shaped like a ski jump.   It goes up, levels off, goes up again and continues to climb.   It is the highest ski jump in the world right now, like jumping off the edge of the Grand Canyon into the end of the natural world.

Sure, the president is a very nasty man, his few remaining loyal henchmen/sycophants are likeminded, unprincipled men on a mission.   Their mission is power and domination, on behalf of a tiny percentage of citizens, our few greatest citizens, people who increasingly enjoy most of the country’s vast wealth and a more merciful system of justice and health care than the rest of us.  Their mission is aided on the ground by millions of angry white men with grievances and guns, men willing to believe anything but what is actually coughed into their faces.   

The president and his very fine people care as much about these common, angry, fearful men as the wealthy Planters of the antebellum south who formed the Confederacy cared about the so-called White Trash they sent to fight their own country in a bloody war to preserve their privileged way of life. 

A way of life, based on proud, open and often grotesque inequality they call “liberty,” a thing worth dying for, the thing that most of the very wealthiest among us are still fighting like the Devil to preserve.




[1]  this was quoted by a commenter on this beautiful video of Bill Frisell’s  recent performance of a great Burt Bacharach tune.  Heck, this one:

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