There’s a lot of outrage in the United States over Donald Trump’s latest comments, because of course there is. This time it happens to be an attack on Representative Ilhan Omar and a subsequent literal rallying cry by his supporters, but I mean, who the fuck is even surprised by this anymore?

Trump made an administration based on the mechanics that allowed him to win: escalation combined with a forgiving media—and by ‘forgiving media’ I mean one that is so entrenched in news cycles as a form of profitability that all new stories eclipse the old. This notion of existing only in-the-moment allows for the outrage to repeat as long as Trump gives a new reason for it to.

And this outrage is easy. It’s hollow. Take another recent abhorrent event, the blocking of health coverage for 9/11 First Responders (a cause to which Jon Stewart has thankfully reclaimed some air time for). After 9/11, the talking points were You’re with us or against us and It’s unpatriotic to not support the President and Never forget.

—Now the talking points are about cost structures, even though the state seems hell-bent on spending a trillion dollars on a war plane that can’t fly. But the talking points begin with Rand Paul and at Fox News, subsequently resonating across the internet. The idea that trolling liberals is more important to these right-wing morons than common decency toward people who show up for jobs these online idiots would be far too cowardly to attempt is just as bad as the spineless democrats who try and compromise with their ilk instead of telling them to sit down and shut the fuck up like the children they are.

Maybe it’s that Americans have adopted the news cycle as a model for civilization; that the past is not an accumulation of evidence but simply an archive of Well, that happened sentiment. Maybe it’s because the actual issues that plague society—capitalism, technocratic ideologies and individualist motivation—would threaten the wealth of too many in power and the dreams of those working to get there. Maybe America is just doomed to repeat these vicious cycles of faux-rage and self-indulgent victimization as immigrants get rounded up and representatives threatened until it all breaks down.

How soon we forget.

Since the world is filled with horrific problems, literal Nazis and absolutely no end in sight, television—or streaming content, or whatever the fuck we’re calling it now—has somehow eclipsed its dominance from the pre-internet era, going from a social norm to a bastion of the Potential Economy of New Technology. Netflix spends billions of dollars on ‘original content,’ and the word Binge has gone from an implication of bad behavior to a promotion for weekend indulgence.1 Entire websites have writers for re-hashing plots and speculating about future character choices.

It makes me wonder, maybe this is because television is the one thing right now that can’t be disputed. Fifty years ago a man landed on the moon and it wasn’t six months back I was sitting at a café when the guy next to me tried to convince me it was faked and the world is, in fact, flat. Television is one area of society—professional sports being another—where there is no such thing as Fake News. You can have opinions that can be ridiculed but everyone starts at the same area of common knowledge.2

This investment in fantasy is dangerous. The more a culture digs a psychological hole into what is not real, the more it allows for the terror of reality to propagate unchecked. Millions of people have signed up to ‘Storm Area 51’ while not a couple hundred miles to the south, camps that actually need liberation only grow more entrenched as a norm in the minds of American society.

People wonder how Donald Trump became President, but let’s not forget that guy was a prominent figure on TV for 15 years.

As America grows more fascinated with its creations—few of which have any artistic integrity and most of which are, at best, forgettable—while it allows for social problems to go unsolved, the country sets itself up only for a more dismal future. That politics are now on display as entertainment and issues play out like seasons on a TV show is no mistake; it is a catastrophic failure of those given responsibility for guarding the merits of political process from the institutions of capitalism.3 Integrity and credibility have long been sold down the river, but people are too busy expressing themselves with GIFs from Game of Thrones to be bothered enough to care.

  • Hilarious how excessive indulgence can either be considered good or bad depending on who profits and what the status quo says.
  • This is one reason I love the ending to The Sopranos, because its open-ended interpretation managed to really piss people off.
  • Similarly, the exponential growth in disposable culture is the opportunity of money, uncaring of the consequence toward the actual craft or ideas behind the concept of American art.

“If the road you followed brought you to this, of what use was the road?”

I think about this scene a lot when I think about modern American liberalism.

I do not understand those who believe in Kamala Harris1 or Elizabeth Warren2—or really any of the other Democratic candidates outside of Bernie.3 What part of believing in a system hell-bent on profit and power would make someone think that it does not, eventually, end up with a Trump-like figure? Someone who uses media perfectly to appeal to the weakness of populism and the modern social-media driven mob mentality?4

Of course The New York Times and its ilk will try and convince America that belief in old institutions matters, and that Trump is just an aberration, but the fact is that Trump is the most recent face of the problem and not the problem itself. And to elect anyone who isn’t willing to throw their weight behind a complete overhaul of the system is to stare at an assassin pointing a shotgun at your face, convincing yourself that you can convince him not to pull the trigger.

  • Cop.
  • “Capitalist to my bones.”
  • OK so maybe include Marianne Williamson here, but more in the sense she’s the Democratic version of Trump and actually has a shot at that mindset shit grabbing a wave of new-age populism.
  • Barack Obama did it perfectly in 2008. The people were tired of war, they were tired of a dumbass for a President, and here came this educated man with a savvy online presence talking about Hope. He enraged part of the country the way that Trump is doing now. They’re really two sides of the same coin.

The eight-hour time zone difference between Ireland and America means any major event in the States, I usually wake up to instead of read about in real-time—the way most things go these days. This creates a non-specific sense of dread, in that checking The Guardian or The New Yorker each morning is going to have one horrifying new story or another.

That sort of fear creates a general anxiety, less with regard to certain doom and more that its very existence seems a pretty strong piece of evidence that everything is completely fucked.

Today is different though. Right now everyone in America is asleep. And when they wake, the horrors of targeted raids against immigrants will begin. The Trump administration has blatant disregard for any concept of human rights and the impending violence—both physical and psychological—of what will happen in America just hours from now is an indefensible atrocity.

And those atrocities will be the headlines I will wake to on Monday. That this grotesque cycle of fear is making it easier to predict the future is truly terrifying. That it is defended by some, funded by ‘the opposition’ and ignored by most is tragic. That it is becoming routine for this depraved indifference to keep advertising revenue flowing into Op-Ed pages is quintessentially American.

the dead-end ephemera of The West used to be plastic toys on the middle shelf sold at grocery stores. now it’s the intangible, all-consuming cloud of frustration that is the interconnected contemporary human psyche.

—sitting today listening in one ear to Tom Waits and the other to stories from East Germany Before The Wall Fell and reading the various official documents describing the President raping a child and i have to remind myself that any light i see at the end of this tunnel is that of an oncoming train—

we all just flail through the patterns of personal belief, each a fragment on this fractal of existence. every life an equation, dividing itself down to zero. the heart is a chisel and time is the hammer that hits it into our fragile bodies. history is a sleight-of-hand trick. the future is a dead rabbit.

if art is just going to entertain the people who don’t have to afford to give a shit about anything until the end of the world, then what the fuck is the point? opportunists and amateur humans come in all forms.

reading the news is a trap. daily routine seems more like existential prison than maintaining a balance of information and culture. the grotesque, pointless discourse of the internet seems more intent on attaching itself to the world of profiteering than the mechanics of change (in which action follows words).

whereas my rage used to be enough to keep writing, as if the words would make a difference, that accumulated static appears to hide its nature like one of those magic eye posters; underneath the patterns are a hamster wheel of despair, exhausting the minds of any and all who participate in the trivial cycle of debate about when and how this all is going to come crashing down.

—if we spent half as much energy trying to change this system of parasitic, psychopathic capitalists and their corporate oligarchies as we did blindly fighting one another about invisible divisions based in propagandized paranoia and pretending we’re on different sides of armageddon, maybe it all could actually be avoided—

this fucking world.

Are y’all fuckin’ Americans or something?

I’m not sure if he was just visiting or if he lives here, but he certainly was Dutch. For a small Irish fishing village of 850 people, I’ve met a fair share of ex-Hollanders. He’d draped a flag over the wall, under the television playing the World Cup final. At the time, the game was still tied, and he was trying to will the bar into rooting against the Americans.

It wasn’t too much later—somewhere between the first and second goals by the US—when it happened. It always does. I don’t remember the context or the reason, but I heard the name: Donald Trump. The subsequent collective sigh. A couple laughs at whatever joke was made. Everyone takes a drink, and the air of the room for a moment is deflated by the pricking pin of Well what can you do? psychology. I’ll never understand people.

Certainly, the Trump administration and its horror show of concentration camps and gaslighting is one of the worst in the post-Nixon era of the United States. Yet sitting in MacCarthy’s, listening to the chatter, watching the game, I wanted to stand on the bar and yell about how he’s no different than Obama, Bush or Reagan. Men who committed serious atrocities against human rights but were excused by one form of passive social abstinence or another: Obama’s drone warfare and deportation regime and anti-Occupy police excused by ‘liberals’ because, well, he was Obama. Somehow the absolute war criminal in George W Bush is given a pass because the fucker took up painting.1

These men were excused of their crimes because Americans treat politics the way they watch sports: it’s Us vs Them. You don’t question your team, you don’t doubt it whatsoever even after the final whistle blows.2 Except, of course, the framework for politics isn’t one of rules or structure or even a final fucking whistle, and the entire apparatus of metaphorically linking it to gamesmanship only weakens the people while the rich are free to propagate the idea they wouldn’t be better off hanging from lamp-posts across the country.

So now I just sit and boil. The internet has enabled everyone to believe their opinion is worthwhile, or even that criticism itself is worthwhile, and so liberals and conservatives endlessly battle each other on Facebook and the New York Times employs people like Russ Douthat and in the end it’s all a game even if it means children are locked in cages or the country starts illegitimate wars or destabilizes entire regions of the world out of the sight of everyday voters who are busy buying patio furniture.

And I sit and watch a group of American women—who, inexplicably, still have to fight for things like equal pay—dominate the rest of the world in a way that the rest of the United States should be envious of: with an authentic grace, a sincere passion and unrelenting commitment to greatness. These are all ideas that otherwise have been packaged, sold, and used as branding campaigns for everything from pharmaceuticals to wars, because that’s America now, and this empire is unrelenting and inescapable and we’re all fuckin’ Americans in this hellscape of a world.

But for at least a few minutes, watching those women, there was a shred of something to be proud of.

  • Hitler also painted.
  • Which, fine, if you’re a fan of a sports team and feel like a complete lack of criticism is a good thing then to each their own.