I’ve noticed over the years that a good snapshot of my mental health at any given time can be found in my reading habits. Since I am always reading something, usually more than one thing, a casual observer would just see some goober staring at a tablet and assume I am watching cat videos or porn. But it is books that have always been my sanctuary. A relative measure of my overall happiness lies not in the quantity of reading material I consume, but the quality.
I’ve usually got some works of fiction or literature going, and when my life is relatively stress-free and relaxed, I like to read about science and history, philosophy and sociology, even politics and economics. But when my mind is troubled, I gravitate towards science fiction, so it is with some concern that lately I find myself diving into John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series. It’s good stuff, but I’ve already read it, so these are indeed perilous times.
I’ve come to the conclusion that our democracy is broken. Sure, it was damaged before, and for a long time our government has been mostly millionaires busily making the world a better place for millionaires, while the rest of us race to the bottom in our trickle-down economy. But our new reality teevee preznit has destroyed any sense of normalcy. His know-nothing theory of governance seems to be to just do or say whatever pops into his head at any given time and then brazen it out when someone points out that he once said or did just the opposite. It is like watching a clumsy ten-year old boy fall down and then, when his friends laugh at him, lamely pretend that he did it on purpose.
Yesterday the Pulitzer prizes for 2017 were announced. David A. Farenthold of The Washington Post won the National Reporting prize for a series of articles detailing how our new preznit boasted for years about giving millions of dollars to charity, when in reality he gave away almost none of his own money, and routinely diverted funds from his charitable foundation for personal use.
…the Trump Foundation’s largest-ever gift — $264,631 — was used to renovate a fountain outside the windows of Trump’s Plaza Hotel.
Way to give back, Donnie. That’s just the kind of person he is, though. David Farenthold won a Pulitzer for chronicling what anyone who has been paying attention has known for decades. Long before there was an internet for him to scam people with his phony university or his phony vitamins or his phony charitable foundation, Donald Trump was the jackass who routinely stiffed the contractors who worked on his development projects and the banks that financed those projects.
Before he set out to destroy our government by running it like a business, he was the guy who filed for bankruptcy protection six times. Before he wasted 90 million dollars worth of missiles on an empty airfield in Syria in a show of leadership, he was the cretin who brought his wife and his mistress on the same skiing vacation, and bragged about it.
The only people who believe his constant stream of bullshit are the ones who long ago turned their right to think for themselves over to the Fox
News Outrage Channel and the rest of the right-wing noise machine. The problem is, that still amounts to millions of people. Here is a brief, pretty much verbatim conversation I had with a co-worker a couple of weeks ago.
Him: [reading a story in the newspaper about our reality teevee preznit taking credit for a company deciding to expand and create a few hundred new jobs] “You know, a couple of hundred jobs here and a couple of hundred jobs there. Pretty soon that starts to add up. He’s putting some people back to work.”
Me: [pointing out a paragraph in the story that states in plain English that the expansion and new jobs were first announced two years ago] “It looks like this decision was made before he even started his campaign.”
Him: [nodding] “Yeah, he’s really starting to make a difference.”
This militant ignorance is what passes for modern conservatism. Half of our citizenry isn’t even paying attention, and half of the remaining half is willfully blind because their team of incompetent, racist greed heads is winning.
I think about a Voltaire quote from way back before the United States existed as a country: “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” And I worry about what will happen when this administration inevitably goes off the rails. Who will they scapegoat?
Like I said, we are broken. We are an empire on the downward slope, perhaps irrevocably, and it feels like the only thing I can do about it is stock up on ammunition and sci-fi novels.