Tuesday, September 27, 2016

President Trump?

By Kelly Cogswell

Well, I won't do that again. Not without a lot more alcohol down the hatch. But I did it. I watched the first Trump-Clinton debate. I will summarize it for you as a rational, mostly truthful woman answering the moderator's questions on one side, and on the other a shrieky, red-faced man interrupting her twice a minute with a mix of gobbledygook and factually challenged, often terrifying statements, all delivered with the absolute conviction of a sleazy used car salesman.

FYI, Ford is not packing up and taking its plant to Mexico. No, Clinton is not responsible for ISIS. Or the Iraq war, either. (See Bush, George W.; unilateralism). And the fourteen million your pops gave you to start a business was not a "small" loan. And no, you absolutely don't get to bomb another country's ship just because somebody made a rude gesture to yours. Yes, Russia is to blame for recent cyber attacks and hacking meant to elect Trump and/or discredit our electoral process.

And long before Trump declared Obama and illegal immigrants were responsible for the uptick in murders in Chicago, while repeating his dog-whistle call for law and order, I was thinking for the millionth time that you'd have to be nuts to vote for him, and have no idea at all of how the world works, or even your own country. But then I remembered-- that's entirely possible. This is America, where half the people that get federal entitlements are against federal entitlements because they don't understand that that's what disability payments are, for instance. Or social security checks. Public schools. Medicare. VA programs.

Reason and logic and knowledge have nothing to do with it. We've proudly announced for years that we vote for whomever we want to have a beer with, so why not that smirker Trump who rails against the politicians who screw everything up, and positively gloats about not paying taxes "because they would just be squandered"? Yeah, he tells it like it is. So heck yeah, I'm for Trump, his supporters say. So what if he's declared bankruptcy a whopping six times, he must be a smart business man because he always seems to come out ahead. And ISIS is a big problem. And Secretary Clinton has been in power for like a million years, so it's all that cunt's fault.

Almost as deluded are the folks on the other side who believe that just because Trump uses imaginary words like "bigly" bigly! and lies every time he opens his mouth, that voters will laugh him out of contention, a tactic that worked so well in previous elections (ibid). It was almost heartbreaking how happy they were last night that the polls after the debate showed viewers believed Clinton trounced Trump, as if a poll actually had some long-term impact.

A large part of the problem is that the mainstream, and even alternative media, does little to challenge Trump directly. Mostly because they don't really care about fairness or justice, just the illusion of it. Remember their coverage of same-sex marriage? They'd have one person rationally explaining the importance of equality under the law and what it meant to lesbian and gay citizens, and then some random preacher ranting that The Gays were going to destroy the family and we should all be killed. And both were equivalent, as if we were discussing whether tax penalties or incentives were more effective.

This time, we end up with rags like The New York Times using their op-ed page to offer the unprecedented acknowledgement that a candidate is entirely, one hundred percent unfit to be president, but this morning sends out an email again reporting on the attacks and responses in the debate as if the strengths and weaknesses of both candidates were equal.

Ditto after the debate, when I watched the PBS commentators lift a few mild eyebrows at Trump, but then go after Clinton, quibbling with how she responded to Trump's criticism of her economic proposals, but mostly offering the usual Hermione-hating crap like "her answers were too long" "she didn't offer us a vision" "she didn't reveal herself." In short, she didn't slide down in the stirrups and let us see a vagina bursting with rainbows and unicorns.

So I'll tell you all what I've been telling my friends for months. Don't underestimate the power of stupidity and misogyny in this election. If Democrats continue to smugly laugh at Trump, if the extreme left and independent voters continue to say both parties are equal, advocating protest votes, we could very well end up with President Trump. He would not only support conservative white nationalists that hate minorities of all kinds, including queers, (seriously! they hate our guts), but would ravage the economy and environment for his personal gain. Trump might even employ nuclear weapons to avenge the slight insults. And I will be the first rat off this sinking American ship.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Season of Grief

By Kelly Cogswell

My uncle died a couple days ago in Kentucky. I can't digest it. Maybe because I'd only seen him once since I left almost three decades ago. At first I'd make occasional pilgrimages back to visit my gay-hating mother, but there was too much suffering involved, it messed me up. So I finally quit going altogether, and lost them all-- cousins, uncles, sisters. Even now, with small reconciliations, it's too late to recover what's gone, or grieve what I already mourned.

I won't go back for the funeral. Who needs to revisit old wounds? Who needs a memorial, installation, TV program, anyway, to remind us of the dead? I know what I'm talking about. Saw both towers fall with my own eyes. Today, September 12th, 2016, it's enough to look at the sky which is the same bright blue that the passengers saw fifteen years ago before they crashed, the same gorgeous blue in which we first saw the two enormous plumes of smoke that would loom over the city for months. Or are burning still.

I've never been to the 9/11 memorial, though I've seen the selfies of friends who've grinned in front of it for their camera phones. I guess that´s better than the fake solemnity you sometimes get. One of New York's football teams went and during the pre-game show we got to see a video of this beefy white guy trying to bow his head but having trouble because his neck was so stiff with muscle. Probably we don't deserve better. The streets were still covered with ash when vendors began to sell tee-shirts, "I survived the Twin Towers" or whatever.

There's not much dignity in human history. It keeps repeating itself, sometimes in tragedy but mostly farce. We didn't even get a gloomy sky as backdrop. Worse, it was an election Tuesday in New York with the usual cast of ridiculous Democrats running for mayor. The big, red-faced, meaty-fingered Hevesi. The flip-flopper Ferrer. And whatshisname Green. I want to say Al, but that's just wishful thinking. Ana and I woke up to shouting from our neighbors behind us, and for some reason turned on the tube. Then Ana went downtown with her journalist's notebook, while I went up on the roof, saw the world changed, then went back downstairs and, after Ana returned safe, but covered in dust, predicted the rise of a stupid new American nationalism, cycles of revenge and retribution, foreign wars, racism, Islamophobia.

Nothing that came after was a surprise, not even the Islamophilia in which "progressives" absolve themselves of their own privilege and bigotry by letting that religion off the hook for misogyny and queer-bashing we'd never let slide in Catholics or Southern Baptists.

Still, I had nightmares. For weeks afterwards, local TV showed nothing but the buildings burning then falling, then burning, then falling, and people jumping from the upper stories again and again and again, and every night I'd be fleeing fireballs. When the bombing started in Afghanistan, portions of ravaged bodies would also enter my dreams. I was overcome with fury and grief, mourning the victims here in New York, but also those in Kabul, and then all of us who would be destroyed by the delayed real and metaphorical explosions any idiot could see coming in Bagdad, Aleppo, Orlando, Nice. Moscow.

Remember how Putin was emboldened to become less and less democratic after Bush's unilateral actions in Iraq? Remember that while the world was distracted, the Cuban regime arrested a huge swath of disgruntled bricklayers and independent librarians, many of which are still in jail, or exiled, or conveniently dead?

Our whole response was so stupid, but it's too late now. Even this cult of September 11th is weird because we usually mark the ends of wars, not the beginning, except in local ceremonies. And we're still in the middle of this one as a nation with no end in sight because the "War" Bush declared "On Terror" wasn't against a human enemy, but an abstraction, requiring not just the usual boots on the ground, but an army of watchdogs, an infrastructure of new language and a legacy of fear and loathing that we must continually replenish.

There's something so… made-up … about the whole thing I sometimes think we should be able to unravel it. We've been duped. Before September 11th we Americans didn't even have a Homeland to defend, just a home. Or a country that may or may not have embraced us, but was ours. Sadly, the history we repeat doesn't offer quick solutions. It's only easy to destroy.