Your Last Breath

It is a scary thought, breathing out and never breathing in again. Anxiety often expresses itself in this image — I can’t breathe! — Oh my God! — the breath catching, a rising fear of no more oxygen coming in, not enough oxygen, drowning on dry land as the last bit of sand tics through the hourglass of the long soap opera that was, until a second ago, your life.

I saw only one last breath in my life. It was my father’s. A few minutes earlier he’d sent everyone else away, telling them I’d stay with him, that everything was fine. They went down to have a break, to eat dinner in the hospital cafeteria. My father waited until they were gone and then said “I don’t know how to do this.” I assured him that nobody did, that it would be fine.

The moment of his death, maybe fifteen minutes later, was perfectly captured by some poetic Jewish writer two thousand years earlier: like removing a hair from a glass of milk. His death was entirely peaceful, his breathing gently slowed and finally stopped. His last breath was gone a few seconds before I knew it for sure. One benefit, I understand, of dying from liver cancer, it just quietly shuts everything down, making you more and more tired until you simply…

You might think knowing that we all will die would bring out the best in us, our empathy, our higher nature. It is a humbling thing to understand that every life ends with a last breath, the humblest of us and the mightiest. Sadly, the fearsome inevitability of death leads many to indulge the worst side of themselves. Might as well take as many of these fuckers down as I can before I die in a glorious hail of bullets!

We’re living through a time as bad as any in human history. This is a time of vast human panic, irrationality, fear, rage and hopelessness. There are good reasons to be afraid, to be angry, to feel hopeless. Look at the facts. Heck, just look at the lies.

During a deadly, highly contagious pandemic we had autocrats in several large countries telling their nations that the whole thing was a hoax created by our enemies, only weak people believed it, only the pathetic died from it. It would be over soon. No need to worry. A few million died worldwide, continue to die, whose fault is that? Don’t blame the Strongmen!

Our own exceptional American Strongman, the orange one, simply told the nation it was not his fucking problem, that’s what States’ Rights are for, let the states fight it out, that’s what the Constitution was written for, the Civil War fought over.

A few months later, before and after another party-line acquittal in a “partisan” impeachment for doing nothing but speaking his angry mind, in a masterful show of his epic, childish will, he refused to accept the results of the election. He attacked the counting of the votes cast by the American people, denounced it as fraudulent, tried to convince state officials to change the certified vote tallies.

His case is pretty much air-tight, in his mind: a president who, according to the lying polls, had supposedly never cracked 50% in popularity during his time in office got more votes in 2020 than he did in his landslide of 2016. His vote tally, 74,000,000, almost 47% of the vote, set a record for votes cast for an incumbent, therefore– obviously– he won. He continues to insist he won, in a landslide.

His opponent tallied 81,000,000 votes, and there is no real question about those numbers, so Trump and his myrmidons kept reminding people that this corrupt, lying, sleepy, nefarious puppet of the Chinese Communist Party had stolen the election by nefarious means, exactly as he predicted his opponent would do when he himself was attempting to rig the election (in part by conspiring to limit mail-in voting, smug Louis DeJoy ruthlessly removing urban mailboxes and dismantling high-speed mail sorting machines in cities, backed by hundreds of lawsuits and aided in this anti-theoretical mail fraud campaign by no less than Bill Barr)!

70% of the former president’s steady 39% believe the election was stolen from their man, in fact, more than that — 70% of all Republicans. $50,000,000 was spent on an advertising campaign to convince the credulous that the election had been stolen from Trump, no matter what Republican state officials, and every court Republicans brought lawsuits in, kept saying. Finally, another $3,500,000 was spent to organize the rally the Capitol rioters attended to get fired up right before they marched down to breach the Capitol, like normal tourists, and Stop the Steal on the day the vote for the thieving Biden was being certified and made official.

Outside of the millions Trump milked MAGA nation for, all the dark money that funded this incendiary lie came from secret sources, like the money that funds “climate change skepticism” during a time when we are witnessing new instances of rapidly unfolding climate catastrophe weekly. Among these dark money funders, and possibly the smartest of them, is Charles Koch, an evil zombie who refuses to die. Koch (the surviving Koch Brother — Charles and David beat their other two brothers to a pulp in years of litigation) is the mastermind engineer of the radical right-wing long game.

Koch enjoys plenty of company and generous tax-deductible support among his well-born, fellow-traveler classmates. Their billions make sure the credulity of the masses of “low information” Americans serves the cause of liberty from government coercion. The autistic genius billionaire Robert Mercer, who supported Lyin’ Ted to the end, threw his money, expertise and support behind Trump, when the time came, and Mercer’s support– plus the campaign-saving introductions to Steve Bannon and Kellyanne “Alternative Fact” Conway — was critical to the Mercer family’s new candidate’s success. Their endgame is all the same. Pay no tax, preserve absolute liberty from “coercion”, have a strong, violent police force, and fuck the poor.

Men like these die only after inflicting tremendous suffering on as many of the rest of us as possible. It seems to me that the suffering they inflict means as much to them as the profit they reap from inflicting this harm. We had one of the worst of them, for four years, attacking almost everybody in the world, daily, on his hyperactive Twitter feed. It was quite clear from his angry, vindictive behavior, that no victory was complete for him without somebody he hated being publicly humiliated.

His America longs for the good old days, when a rich guy like him could hire goons to break legs, have a mob string up any charismatic opponent, call in a favor from the military, if things got really bad between him and the workers he was trying to screw out of their pay.

Those great lost days when America was great, before the “political correctness” that has made us a “laughingstock” are what MAGA is all about. A time (before women could vote, apparently) when bitches didn’t need $130,000 bribes to keep their big mouths shut about a great man’s innocent “side-action,” when angry Blacks (ungrateful for not being enslaved AND being allowed to vote) didn’t try to sell this horse-shit about their lives mattering, when politically correct losers didn’t suddenly become “woke” and believe that crap about “all men being created equal”.

Obviously that’s not true, they say, people were never created equal, the men who wrote that owned other human beings, creatures they regarded as inferior. There are such things as genetics, eugenics, blood, soil, glory, after all. Only a weak nation allows itself to be taken over by soft-hearted eggheads who think they know everything, feel superior because they arrogantly feel the “truth” is on their side.

This MAGA type dies, like anyone else, but the worst of them are prepared to do things, like participate in a violent mob to stop an election being certified because their enraged leader lied to them, that more thoughtful people wouldn’t do. They die, no question, as we all do. The only question is how many of us will breathe our last before they’re done fouling the air with misdirected anger, miscalculated vengeance and unquenchable desire for the illusion of total domination?

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