California floods, America burns, irony explodes

January 9, 2017 Originally published on SFGate

The bloated orange president-elect is in love with dumb-thug Russians, tweets about himself in the third person and is readying his murder of conspiracy-minded billionaire-idiots to lead the nation into the darkest, most shamelessly corrupt period in our short history, all undertaken with a sexual predator’s shrug and an engraved gold pinky ring that spells out #-l-o-s-e-r.

Meanwhile, the 7th-largest economy in the world just underwent truly biblical flooding – and not the helpful kind – following a half-decade of being parched to the bone, thanks to weather extremes wrought, unstoppably, of climate change.

Cars are going driverless, homes are going Big Brother, women are being slammed back to 1950, immigrants are in mourning, Democrats are going underground and stunned Millennials are moving back in with their wary parents as the planet records yet another year as the hottest on human record, shuddering and sighing and girding for much – and with Trump, we do mean much – worse to come.

And that’s just yesterday.

Are you tracking it all? Can you possibly navigate this bizarre Reverso-land, much less integrate? Don’t worry; no one else can, either.

Trust me when I say: Hard and fast and with a thick, bloody thud do the news items hit the wires these days, a ferocious cavalcade of astonishing invention and feral-but-intermittent beauty, completely shot through, quite literally, with staggering amounts of horror and moral abuse.

Turns out social media is the new WMD. Turns out you really can dumb down the world’s most powerful nation into a terrible reality TV show, a truly stunning moral and intellectual insult occurring right now at the highest levels of democratic power – exactly the kind of corrosive villainy to which America, quite naively, thought it was immune, but which will be made grotesquely official on January 20th, also known as The Day Democracy Soiled Itself.

There is no real solution, you see. There is no immediate remedy to the fact that we are about to be overtaken by a horde of scorched-earth nutball extremists who make G.W. Bush’s crew look like squirt guns at an AK-47 convention. Trump’s GOP is easily the most hardcore band of extremist white-male sociopaths the nation has seen since the Civil War. Is that an exaggeration? It isn’t.

Then again, not everyone is miserable. America just forfeited every ounce of international goodwill it earned from the imminently graceful, intelligent Obama era. But what we’ve lost in admiration from the world’s finest leaders and its greatest democracies, we’ve gained in sadistic lust from its cruelest warlords, dictators, terrorists, thugs, criminals, trolls, charlatans, con men, rapists, prison operators, gun makers, pharmaceutical executives, coal plant owners and oil magnates – just about anyone, really, who champions the quick and lucrative destruction of human life as we know it.

Don’t you know? Terrorists love Trump. Ditto strongmen, killers, torturers, people who burn holes into human skin with lit cigarettes. Russia’s oligarchs cheered his victory. This is what we’re in for. This is how you know.

What does it mean? For progressives and those with a functioning intelligence, it means a dramatic ideological whiplash. We are no longer building toward the obvious positives we once knew; we are now slammed back to trying to prevent their planned destruction.

We are no longer looking forward to any number of bright horizons: an intelligent female president, fewer gun massacres, thoughtful social policies, more international harmony; we are, instead, scrambling to protect the remnants of what we have, not to mention our own homes, our loved ones and ourselves from online abuses, venomous bullying and endless threats of rape and murder from armies of neo-Nazis and raging, gun-obsessed white males. In America. In 2017.

We are, in a very real way, concerned all over again about unchecked nuclear buildup, race wars, fiscal collapse, World War III. Just ask China.

Perhaps worst of all, we are, however temporarily, suddenly unable to see MLK’s radiant version of history, the one that bends toward justice. Instead, we are watching it, in real time and by way of a succession of vile tweets, being beaten into a near coma.

Maybe, for now, this the only real question: how do you seek balm? What can you do, on a daily, seemingly inconsequential (but not really) basis, to locate joy and proffer love amidst what feels like a tsunami of antagonism? Or rather, can you somehow do both? Offer love and extoll beauty and loudly, publicly, relentlessly defy the bloated orange wolf grunting at your door?

In my world, alchemy is key. Taking a base matter – a situation, human atrocity, news item, president-elect, you name it – adding something to it, and landing somewhere new – new and, ideally, better than before.

This does not mean “looking on the bright side.” This does not mean “it’s all good” – the current situation is, by no measure of human endeavor, “all good.” It does not mean “focus on the positive,” or “give the man a chance” – he’s had hundreds, and proved every single time to be the truly monstrous ogre he is.

It simply means, when staring down the barrel of the dour and feeling the temptation to drown in bitter fatalism, to instead take some form of action – any action – toward the good, the nourishing, the positive.

Do you want a list? You do not need a list. You need, the wise ones suggest, to make your own list. It might be the only way.

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Mark Morford

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