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Sexual Violation of Personhood (1)

Like other victims of abuse, I learned to live a lie.  I buried the secret deep inside and pretended it didn’t exist.  I carried the shame. I became adept at keeping the shadowy parts of myself pushed far below consciousness.  Increasingly I felt disassociated from my body in an almost constant state of disorientation.  I walked through life numb, emotionless.  At other times I wanted to kill him.  I hated him, and sometimes I projected that hatred onto everyone and everything that crossed my path.  I felt dirty, like there was something wrong with me.  I was broken, unrepairable.  I tried to suppress my memories, to deny what had happened.  I didn’t want it to define me.

On pages 97-102 of The Five Invitations:  Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully(2017 Flatiron Books), Frank Ostaseski tells about the devastating sexual abuse by his parish priest that he suffered during his adolescence.  He tells how it disabled him, on into his late twenties, and how his process of healing was painfully strengthened when, during the early ‘80s in San Francisco, Stephen Levine, “a pioneer in the field of conscious dying,” sent him to work with people with AIDS.

“Stephen was sending me straight into hell to face my demons.”

When I read that sentence, of course I thought of how bravely and gently Dr. Christine Blasey Ford faced her mentally ill tormentors on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and their nominee, her childhood tormentor and potential Justice.  And I thought of the thousands (among potentially millions) who have come forward to tell their stories, with, as Ostraseski puts it, “our human ability to embrace what seems impossible to embrace,” and “willingness to be with our suffering” and with each other’s suffering.

Ostaseski suggests that sexual abuse so deeply threatens our sense of shared humanity and the integrity of our personhood, that we recoil from the possibility of relationship, especially loving relationship.  Faith in that possibility is what the abuser destroys.  But “without a relationship to each other,” and without “the realization of the intrinsic values of purpose, meaning, and spiritual growth, there is a loss of soul. . . .Soul is about presence.”

Ostraseski found that faith in loving relationship again by being present to others who had been brought by sexuality to suffering, and often to death.  Christine Blasey Ford demonstrated that presence to our citizenry, caught in our national web of abusive, sexualized political (“Lock her up”) relationships.

[It’s a brilliant book, btw.]

[In context of this ongoing episode:  “Sexual Abusers and Abusive Sexuality,” which began a year ago.  Republicans are running on it, in the midterms.  Must vote to take away their power.]

The Reckoning

If I were in Paris (alors, on ne sais jamais) at this sad, sick moment in American history, and a proud descendent of Lafayette were to ask me what in the world is going on in my country, I would share these pensées:

 (1)  All the Chickens

No surprise:  the moment draweth nigh when all of America’s chickens, all of the negative psychopathologies of our democracy, will be coming home to roost, all at the same time.

(What a page that will be.  It might spontaneously combust and be reduced to ash, to be mixed with blood and daubed on the author’s forehead.)

I’ve thought on previous pages of the plot line that—by a stoke of pure narratorial luck, or bad luck—the character who turns out to be the great villain, the jack der ripper, of the novel, Herr Trompf, embodies all of those national psychos.  He brought them all together in one volcanic American image, and invited us to vote him up or down.  Lust for wealth, propensity to violence, classism, racism, sexism, religious fundamentalism, rampant ego-individualism, xenophobia, authoritarianism and nostalgia for aristocracy, . . .

All of our worst anti-democratic delusions and impulses (historically repressed by futuristic declarations of human worth and national identity by our founding revolutionaries) were combined in one man, the nominated leader of a fascist political party that had been working, for decades, to undermine democracy and replace it with unfettered plutocracy. [ * ]

We voted him down.

But the Constitution’s electoral mechanism that was designed to protect the plantation aristocracy voted him up.  The fascists, by minority vote of our citoyens, took control of all branches of our national governance.

The inevitable result is soon to be upon us:

A clash of Titans. The fascists who have weaponized all of those psychos and wielded them against our democracy will soon face the citizens whom they have attacked, in an election that will either affirm their rule by the worst within us, or reject it, and empower the representatives, howsoever imperfect, of democracy and the best that America offers the world, to begin to overthrow them (maybe I lost my grammar in there, but you know what I mean).

I believe that if we do not reject them, significantly disempower them, at this moment, we will not get another peaceful chance.  If we do not throw enough Republicans out of office to reverse the course of our governance, those negative psychopathologies inherent in us, and thus, historically, in our democracy, will be so immensely empowered that they will overwhelm us.

(2) Reality.  Fascism.  Political Revolution.

I would tell that citoyen flatly that the reality is that at this moment in American history our government is fascist (“American style,” as I’ve called it, which turns out to be very much like European style, and just as dangerous), and that the remedy, which is still possible, for this social and psychological sickness of an emaciated soul, is the “political revolution” that Bernie called for, and more.

If the voters turn out, if they give us a chance to begin to redress our grievances, there will be so very much to do.  We must change the way things are done—i.e. we must replace the ways of the fascist Republicans and the ways of the corporate Democrats, with reason and with universal liberté, égalité, fraternité.

Change, brought to us by “enormous changes at the last minute,” some we like and some we don’t, will thrust itself upon us. In response, we must change our vision of Earth, of its conditions and its population, and of society and culture in America.

America is in crisis. Whatever the election results on Nov 6, the most difficult and dangerous days are directly ahead of us. They look us right in the eyes, and we had best not look away again.

(3)  Justice

The Old Guard Conservative Republican elite, especially the Special Counsel and the national intelligence community, combined with the outraged liberal democratic majority of the electorate, especially women, seem poised to take the fascists down.

[ * ]  And yes, of course, I’ll explain that our current pr*sident is indeed a loon; he is, mentally-emotionally, a severely ill person; a symptom of that illness, his pr*sidency, the executive embodiment of our psychos, is a running sore on the heart of our nation.

The Shearing of Hair Trompf (39)

Republicans, double down on this:  Manafort will cooperate with Mueller.  “Fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly…in any and all matters as to which the Government deems cooperation relevant” (doc).  Pleads guilty to conspiracy against the U S, and conspiracy to obstruct justice.  Sound familiar?  Multiple offenses combined in each charge.  O happy day!

Announced at 11 this morn.  Twitter-in-Chief didn’t tweet until (waiting for it).

And Cohen is still negotiating with M.  Apparently there’s a Q as to with Cohen has enough to offer that M doesn’t already know, to make it worth letting him off the hook.  As white-collar crime specialist, Randall D. Eliason explains, definitely Manafort has something to offer:

Manafort was at the center of Trump’s campaign during key events in Mueller’s investigation of whether the campaign conspired with Russians to influence the election. Manafort came to the campaign with extensive ties to Russians and Russian-connected individuals. He attended the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Russian representatives offering “dirt” on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. He was campaign chairman during the Republican National Convention when the party platform was changed to adopt a more pro-Russia stance on Ukraine — one source of suspicions about a possible quid pro quo between the campaign and Russia. In short, Manafort is in a position to know a great deal about matters at the heart of Mueller’s investigation.

Mueller has pursued a classic, painstaking white-collar investigation, building cases against lower-level players and persuading them to “flip” against bigger fish. The pursuit of Manafort took more than a year, but Mueller has now landed his biggest fish so far. Prosecutors typically offer cooperation deals to those who can deliver the goods on someone higher up the food chain — and the list of those above Manafort is not very long.

[Previous page of this episode.]

The Shearing of Hair Trompf (38)

Double down Winsocki, double down….You can win, Winsocki, if you’ll only double down.  * ]

What do you do, if you’re a Republican, and you’re scared, and you control the federal government, and your Republican Pr*sident is a loon, and you admit he’s amoral, and a deep danger to the wellbeing of the nation, and you’re a Republican, and your dream of a lifetime, a permanent fascist majority on the Supreme Court, is about to be realized, and you’re scared that you might lose control, and you’re a Republican?

Oh yeah, you double down.

Your Republican fascist Pr*sident is putting your control of Congress severely at risk; and now he’s talking, at campaign rallies, of a genuine possibility that he will be impeached, if people vote for Democrats, or even if Republicans simply stay home on election day.  Maybe he’s only scaring up his base, to get them to vote.  But would he use “the i word,” if things had not gotten to the point where it really is something for him to fear.

As a Republican, you know the power of putting ideas in people’s heads, again and again. Concepts, whether good or bad, become realities.  People get used to them.  They begin to think that the concept is already happening.  They can live with it.  It’s normal.  Maybe they even like the idea.  Even if they’re Republicans.  Even Republican senators.  After all, VP Pinch is as much their fascist as Herr Trompf, but slick about it.

And that’s what it has come to.  A growing majority of Americans want Trompf out of here, and they want it strongly.  They are scared of what T will do, they loathe him, they are angry, they are going to vote, and they are not going to vote Republican.

They find T repulsive. In recent weeks, in addition to his being shown to have committed a federal crime (see SHT 37), he has torn apart families, denying the human rights and American legality of children seeking asylum, and he has childishly refused to honor the spirit of a dead adversary, and one whom many Americans consider to be a model of American integrity, courage, and self-sacrifice.  Now the dangerous chaos and foolishness of his executive branch of government has been exposed, by a respected journalist and by members of his own staff.  And his nominee for fascist majority of Supreme Court judges has been called out for lying under oath (although it might be just obstruction of truth, not perjury.

So what do you do? If you’re a Republican?

[ * ] Paraphrasing a song remembered from back-to-school morning radio in the early ‘50s.  Beautiful fall mornings, with the air crisp and the sun sparkling between deep shadows.  Of course the phrase is “Buckle down, Winsocki.”  (And here’s a trailer for the 1943 film—totally whitebread, but with mention of blues and gay.)]

[Previous page of this episode.  Next page.]

Vomit, Anybody?

(As a former Hoosier, first I want to say, as a charm or spell for warding off evil spirits:  Coats, Daniels, Quayle, Pence.  Hoosiers all.  Get thee, get thee, get thee hence.  Gag.)

C’est bizarre, alors. La Maison Blanche = La Ville des Folles, with its bouffon-en-chef whose character is so void that he no longer evokes even a cynical smirk of humor.

Pretending to save us from being destroyed by the blanche craziness, a NYT anonymous Republican op-ed columnist (I’m assuming that the NYT knows that this wasn’t written by Russian military intelligence) speaks perfectly for the wing of the fascist Republican Party that is willing to exploit Herr Trompf in order to pursue their goals of solidifying the financial and political ownership, domination, and rule of our country by the filthy rich American capitalist aristocracy.  If those words sound like a cartoon from yesteryear, consider: Jeff Bezos has been increasing his wealth by about $260,000,000/DAY; he and the two also-rans for Wealthiest American own more wealth than 50% of the rest of us—i.e. more than our poorest 150,000,000 souls and fellow citizens.  Many of us own nothing.  Nothing.  Many of us own next-to-nothing.  Many of us own just a little bit, with no hope of ever having more.  Many of us are working long days and long weeks for an income that will not pay for housing.  Many of us cannot afford medical treatment.

That’s fukt, man.

But now cometh to the NYT an anonymous savior.  A fascist faux-Résistance fighter in the fascist den, helping his fascist Party achieve its true, fascist governmental goals:  reduced taxes for the filthy rich and the corporate monopolies, de-regulation (freedom from rule of law or consideration of the general welfare) of those same, reduction of government plus enhanced corruption in government, permanent judicial support of those same, permanent electoral victory by the representatives of those same.  All to be followed by achieving their fascist social goals of white supremacy and ethnic cleansing, male control and punishment of women, and permanent subjugation of those of us in the morally inferior middle and under classes.

All of which, they are willing to pursue under the banner of MAGA.  Crazy, I know.  Crazy, they know, and chaotic, the faux-fighter assures us.  But not to worry, they’ve got that chaos under control.  They are governing, verily under the wrathful nose of the Mad President.

Fascist gremlins scurrying around to prevent errors while they participate in cruelties.

Quelle courage! What sacrifice! They believe in something.  Something crazy enough—for us to sacrifice everything for.  They’ve got us under their control, and they’re trying to keep it that way, even as they are losing their grip.

In NYMag Frank Rich correctly identifies these losers as Vichy cowards and collaborateurs.  They’re running scared, and they’ll get what’s coming for them.

But Kaep is rightOur belief in ourselves and our dreams for ourselves have not been big enough.  Not crazy enough.  Let’s show how “crazy” sanity can be.  Be something bigger than politics, bigger than wealth.

[Update already:  On an earlier page I was thinking out loud about the Gates argument against our taxing him, and how wrong-headed that is, from the point of view of democracy.  It occurred to me in the shower a few minutes ago, that since only taxation poses any significant potential threat to his luxurious lifestyle (short of atomic warfare or total self-assertion by the supervolcano beneath Old Faithful), what the argument really comes down to is:  let me keep all of my money, or spend it if I want to, on what I want to spend it on, and hope that people like me will feel charitable about some of the money that we can’t possibly need.  I don’t know if Jeff is that thoughtful.

9-9  Woodward says (see video clip of interview), seriously, the American people had better “wake up to” how dangerous the T presidency is, because of T’s incompetence (my word, as a euphemism), and pray that we don’t experience a national crisis while T is president.

I think the identity of The Anonymity doesn’t really matter (Woodard says it’s important).  As Mark Sumner puts it (DKos), commenting on an excellent piece by Leonard Pitts Jr:  “never forget — the Nazis who tried to knock off Hilter were still f#cking Nazis.”  I agree with Sumner that it’s a distraction.  But Sumner thinks maybe it’s strategic:  “Honestly, my number one suspect on the list of who is behind the op-ed would be … Donald Trump. . . .having the story out there. . .serves the purpose of keeping everything at a high boil. Which is excellent cover for getting things done. Where things means obstructing justice and robbing the nation blind.”  When Sumner quotes Martin Pengelly (article about reactions by VP Pinch) quoting the original text, I noticed this locution (i.e. quirk):  “he or she also drew attention to administration achievements – Republican goals including ‘effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more’.” Blah, blah, blah and more.  Who’s the greatest inarticulate American president in world history, probably, almost, and more?

And now, for your further delectation, here’s an Identity Quiz Q.]

McCain Agonistes

I served in Vietnam in 1968, the same time Senator McCain was there.  By chance I got to meet him, a couple years ago at the National Cemetery.  And I walked up to him and introduced myself.  I said, I also am a Vietnam vet, with two purple hearts.  He gave me the biggest bear hug.  And he whispered in my ear, he said, why didn’t you come get me.  And I said, if I knew you was there I would have.  So I’m here to show him respect, and the honor that he deserved.

(Recorded in a WaPo video, “’He gave the ultimate’: Arizonans bid McCain farewell.” Aug 30, 2018.  Begins at :59.)

John McCain grew up in a military family with plenty of money and plenty of status.  His father and grandfather were admirals. He graduated from the Naval Academy #894 of 899.  He became a pilot, and apparently a somewhat reckless one.  Then, on his 23rdbombing mission over Hanoi, his A-4E was hit by a missile.  He was injured by the explosion, and injured again by his immediate captors. In prison he was further injured by botched surgeries, severe torture, and two years in solitary confinement. In 1968, when his father was named commander of all U.S. forces in the Vietnam sector, the North Vietnamese offered him release; but even in the face of renewed torture he refused to be released until all Americans taken prisoner before him were released—more than five years later.  Arizonans elected him to the House in 1983 and then to the Senate.  In 2012 he was the Republican candidate for President.

My opinion and feelings about Senator McCain have been quite mixed.  I have held him in high regard for his rock-solid stand against torture, even when it was championed by Vice President Cheney and President GW Bush, and for his decisive, in-yo-face, thumbs down to Marse McConnell’s attempt to destroy Obamacare.  He knew from experience what it is to be psychologically (i.e. physically and emotionally) deeply wounded, and what the physical/psychological torture of an enemy combatant is; and from that same experience he knew what it is to need medical attention to a body that is broken.

At these moments, in the face of Republican politicians who had taken steps to avoid pain, and sacrifice, instead of risking their lives for their country and the humane principles that it imperfectly embodied and championed, as a politician M acted decisively to apply those principles to pursuit of truth and the common good.

He also voted against a tax policy that would funnel more of the national wealth to the already filthy rich, he championed campaign finance reform, he supported fair immigration policy, and he spoke the truth about climate change.

On the other hand, it often seemed to me that, for some reason, he betrayed his own principles and let his country down.  Was that caused by inherited point of view, rebelliousness, impulsiveness, impatience and anger, confusion, lapse of attention or momentarily weak judgment? All of the above?

He adopted the political nickname of “Maverick.”  But that could “maverick” mean within “Republican”?  In our time, one can’t really be a Republican and be a maverick.  To be a Republican is to serve the cause of a permanent plantation aristocracy.  Even given the increasing willingness of the Clintonian Democrats to serve the interests of the rich, at the expense of the poor and the middle class, while presenting themselves as the champions of the poor and the middle class, McCain’s humane and democratic principles should have made him a Democrat from Arizona.  Especially after Trompf became president.

I don’t want to oversimplify a long life and a long career in politics (or to draw too close an allusion to Sampson or Milton).  But I wonder if his whisper, one veteran of that wretched war to another, very private, emotion-charged, spontaneous, in a public place of high historical and personal significance, might be a key moment in the plot line of McCain, revealed only by a walk-on at the end of the tale.  (And heard almost accidentally by the present narrator.)

I’ve been thinking that one of the situations in which we get a glimpse of the soul, of a thing, including a human thing, is when it is put under great stress—injury, pain, destruction, death.  Here’s a military example, from watching, in WWII AAF film, a bomber, badly shot up by enemy fighters or flack, which it barely survived, lumbering down to earth, to attempt a landing at its home air base.  You can see the tears and holes in its body.  You know that some of the crew members are dead and others are alive but wounded, quite possibly dying.  Fire trucks and ambulances are out on the runway. In the stress of those things, plane and humans, and of the warfare of which they make an immediate part, you see the soul of their being, of our being, exhibit itself.  In its agony.  Its pathology.

I think that’s what that Arizona vet witnessed in the national cemetery, and testified to, by offering his tearful regret, respect, and honor.  It’s la condition humaine.

And I wonder if that agonized soul might be the key to McCain’s ambiguity, and ambivalence.  A steady state of confusion:  shock, grief, disbelief, and wonder.

Combat and torture failed to get him, but brain cancer did.  I believe he did his positive best, maybe especially as he planned his last national service; daughter Meghan spoke to all of that (with, I think, the same ambiguity; but I’ll sum what she said with a Shakespearian nothing breaks true love).  So while I go on wondering, I’ll close this page with President Obama’s testimony to McCain’s political best.

Who Let the Fkkkng Dogs Out?

The Republican Party, of course, when they empowered Trompf with political legitimacy, and then accepted his administration by White Supremacy fever tweet and a pack of fkkkng racist advisors and cabinet members, and supported him in Congress.  Ol’ Marse McConnell had led the way, with his policy of emasculating the first black president.

Because it’s all they got.  They’ve been morally and intellectually bankrupt for a hundred years, because their single idea and mission in life have been the superiority of a wealthy (white) few; and now, in order to bend democracy to the service and protection of today’s Plantation Aristocracy, they have to go for racist blood, unleashing their blood hounds, their maddog racist voters, against any opposing candidate who might defeat them, and trying to turn every person of color into an animal, a pariah, or even a mythic Willie Horton.

They’ll eliminate democracy if they can, but call the new system their ‘permanent Republican majority,” even though it’s actually rule by a permanent corrupt minority.

At this moment in the plot, as we step up to the starting line of the official campaign season, it’s time to call Republicans what they are:  fukkking racist fukkkups.

Starting with this particular FL shit-for-brains, Trompf-wannabe Ron DeSantis.  Things are going to get really really ugly. (But interesting, in context of our historical slave narrative:  in the spirit of going high when they go low, Gillum responded with a “north star” image:  “’What we’re trying to offer in this race is a North Star for where we want to go as a state,’ he said.”  The hounds are out of the kennel and off the leash; we’re running, but we’re not running scared, and we know where we’re heading, with the sure Guide of Truth.