FREAK OUT FRIDAY – October 30, 2020

We have neighbors down the street with whom we had developed a sort of tradition.  Every year we’d go over to their house on New Year’s Eve.  We’d celebrate the end of the old year, watch the ball drop in Times Square.  I’d sing “Edelweiss” for some reason because the wife loved the way I did that song.  It was a nice annual interaction.

We never discussed politics.  Never came up.  I had no idea where their allegiances were, and no particular interest either.  And that was fine.

Then Trump was elected.  And apparently they discovered my political leanings.  And as it turned out, they were Trump supporters.

And we were never invited back.

Not my doing.  We’d be perfectly happy to pick up the tradition.  But I suspect that’s not going to happen.  And if it did, not discussing politics would now become somewhat strained, because politics now informs every aspect of American lives.  

Part of that is because of social media.  Trump has infiltrated every aspect of our lives, between his incessant, unending string of twitter rants and his followers—both genuine American and Russian bots–permeating Facebook, Twitter and every other means of public discourse.  If you’re a Biden supporter and put signs up on your front lawn, you’ve drawn a target on your house and the signs will likely vanish when you’re not looking.  If you’re a Trump supporter you scornfully challenge the manliness of anyone who is wimpy enough to wear a facemask because you know that the Coronavirus is on the retreat even as death counts spike

How did we become this fractured, this divided?  Is it ALL because of Trump?  Was he able to single-handedly shred the country this badly?

No.  Any awareness of history indicates that he is simply the culmination of the slow disintegration of American discourse.  He is the head of the pimple that took decades to develop.  The rise of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh combined with a political climate that became increasingly divisive.  The notion of GOPers who valued adherence to American values over party loyalty that led to Nixon being told to leave office is long gone.  Over the past decades, what we believe in terms of the party has defined us, separated us into tribes.  It used to be believed that the things that united us were far more significant than that which divided us.  That those who held variant views were defined as the loyal opposition.  

That is no longer the case.  There’s us and there’s them.  There’s real facts and alternative facts.  Those who agree with us love the country.  Those who disagree with us hate the country.  They are not the opposition, they are the enemy.  They are fascists (and mysteriously antifacists at the same time, because both are bad somehow.). They are racists or socialists.  They are evil and we are good.  They are traitors to the American spirit and should just get the hell out of the country and go live somewhere else, which is something of a challenge since most countries won’t allow us to cross their borders.  And whose fault is that?  If you’re on the left, it’s Trump’s.  If you’re on the right, it’s the Chinese and Dr. Fauci and the Democrats.

We literally cannot agree on truth anymore.  If Watergate were happening right now, forty percent of Nixon’s followers would not believe the coverage of the Washington Post.  Deep Throat would be considered a fictional creation of those liars, Woodward and Bernstein, and Fox News would be pounding away with opposing stories decrying the savage witch hunt from liberals trying to take down Nixon whom they’d been gunning for ever since JFK unfairly beat him in 1960.  That is how much the world has deteriorated.

It didn’t have to be like this.  On the other hand, maybe it did.  It may well be that social media has caused the American experience to deteriorate because the veil has been pierced and we know too much about each other.   Walt Simonson said years ago that the separation between fans and professionals was a good thing; that we should remain divided from the fans to help maintain the mystery.  That is long gone, and now pros must live in fear that one moment’s uncontrolled angry post on Twitter can literally end their careers as they become “cancelled,” driven into oblivion.  There is a constant search for a new enemy to be pilloried. 

No one is exempt from this.

Except, seemingly, Trump.  The living incarnation of Teflon Don.  We have become so overwhelmed, so numb to his violations of decency, that things which—had Obama said or done them—would have wound up on the front pages of every newspaper, don’t even register anymore.  Hell, if Hillary Clinton had handled the Coronavirus as badly as Trump, the GOP would have impeached her and removed her from office.  Done deal.  But Trump has his hardcore defenders.  His supporters were left to freeze to death in Nebraska and you know the majority of them will still defend him.  

Four years ago, on my website, I put out a poll asking how long people thought he would survive his presidency.  How and when and why would he wind up leaving?  A handful thought that he might make it through all four years; most believed that he would resign or be thrown out of office.  I suppose he should get SOME credit for surviving much longer than most of us believed he would. 

I need to note that I was worried that his presidency would indeed be a disaster.  That Hillary would be right:  some emergency would surface that he would be unable to handle, which is exactly what happened.  

But I wanted to be wrong.  I wanted him to grow into the role.  I wanted him to surprise all of us.  I wanted him to be a strong leader who set us down a path to greatness, supported American ideals, protected all of us.  I cannot recall any time in my life where I wanted my gut instincts to be misplaced.

And now here we are.  Nearly a quarter of a million Americans dead.  The environment under siege.  The Supreme Court with a bulletproof conservative majority representing the views of the minority of the populace.  The very notion of truth now under siege as people cling to their own truths rather than deal with facts that fly in the face of them.  

It is interesting to note that George Orwell, who wrote “1984,” the novel through which we are now living, was a Democratic Socialist.  That would be enough to get him tagged by modern commentators as a Communist, even though he based the dystopian world of “1984” on Russia.  A world where everyone is always being watched.  A world where facts give way to Newspeak, which rewrites language into a new vocabulary that suits the wants and desires of Big Brother.   The Thought Police—or as they’re known now, Social Justice Warriors on the left or angry snowflakes on the right—come after you if you dare to say something that runs contrary to their popular beliefs (currently they’re targeting the Girl Scouts for congratulating Judge Barrett, which pissed off the left, so they quickly took down the tweet, which pissed off the right.  Either way, lower cookie sales this year.)

The fortunate thing is that, for the moment, we still have an option that Orwell’s world did not possess:  the opportunity to vote people out of office.  Granted, Trump is going to do everything he can to try and invalidate it, because that’s what dictators do.  They take away rights not immediately, not in one shot, but progressively, one small slice at a time, the death of a thousand cuts.  

This Tuesday is going to make or break this country.  That’s what it comes down to.

This is the last Freak Out Friday.  I admit that Trump has somewhat dominated this site the past two weeks, irrespective of my desire to limit him to one day a week, but with the advent of election day that is more or less understandable.  

If, God forbid, he wins…if every single poll in the country is wrong…I will not return to Freak Out Friday.


Because my attacks on Trump will be unabated.  I will no longer endeavor to constrain myself to one day.  Every day of the week, whenever I feel like it, I will lay into him and attack him, because that will be the only option left.  It will be a full-on assault.

The gloves will be off.


Final Presidential debate

8;18: Currently watching “Supernatural.” Feeling very relaxed. That’s gonna change.

8:59; Please don’t let Biden screw up.

9:03: So I wonder how long it will be before Trump tries shouting over Biden’s mic.

9:05: Oh yeah. I’m sure Trump will let Biden speak.

9:05: And literally the first sentence out of his mouth is a lie. The estimated 2 million who were going to die was if the government did absolutely nothing. The vaccine is not coming and not ready. It’s all bullshit.

9:07: No, he hasn’t been congratulated. Almost every country in the world has forbidden US citizens from coming there. And no, it’s not going away.

9:08: There we go. Biden is answering the question directly. Stark contrast. Meanwhile Trump actually looks like HE is falling asleep.

9:10: The military has NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.

9:11: Jesus. Winter is coming has now become part of our lives.

9:13: What in the hell is Trump talking about? He’s just kind of rambling. I’ve lost track of his point.

9:15: “We’re not learning to live with it. We’re dying with it.” Best line so far.

9;16: Excellent. Biden finally stated that his comment about xenophobia wasn’t related to the shutdown. A lot of people might still not know that.

9:19: Have to admit, Trump is more under control this time. He’s not interrupting.

9:21: No, New York is not a ghost town. Kath was in NYC just a few days ago and she says it’s not. YOUR wonderful city? You disowned it, you schmuck.

9:23: Seriously? He’s attacking MICHIGAN? Where his followers tried to kidnap the governor?

9:23: Biden is trying not to break up. And no, Fauci is NOT a Democrat. He’s an independent. He keeps tossing this lie around.

9:25: “We have plenty of money.” Bullshit. They’re out of money, having to pull advertising in a number of states.

9:29: And once again he pulls out the bullshit rumor that Biden was given $3 million from Russia. We know that’s complete nonsense. Again, it’s right out of the Goebbels playbook. Say a lie enough times and it becomes the truth. ‘

9:30: He has the nerve to state that BIDEN is raking in money? Trump has made millions upon millions of dollars off American taxpayers.

9:31: Nail him on the tax returns. Screw him to the wall. Yes, Biden is saying everything I was just saying.

9:32: Oh God, he’s STILL hauling out the whole thing about how he can’t release his taxes because they’re under audit. It’s a complete lie.

9:34: No, they did NOT spy on his campaign. And now he’s off on the whole witch hunt thing. Jesus, this doesn’t end.

9:37: Yes, exactly. Trump cozies up to dictators and screws over our friends.

9:40: She’s doing a good job at wrangling him.

9:41: Good. Don’t get dragged into back and forth. Talk directly to the American people.

9:43: There’s no war SO FAR. Kim is preparing for it and he’s not acknowledging it.

9:45: Cut his microphone off. Let her steer the conversation.

9:46: He’ll make a vague promises about a much better program and talk about the individual mandate. That’s all he’s got.

9:48: He wants to come up with a new program? Odd. I thought he already had one. And no, Biden will NOT terminate private health care.

9:50: Good. Spell out that he’s not going to eliminate private insurance.

9:52: I love the contrast: Trump shakes his head while Biden speaks, and Biden is clearly laughing while Trump talks.

9:54: No, he’s not talking about ANY of that when he’s talking about a private option. “He’s very confused.” Good observation.

9:55: Trump’s losing it. The stock market? When was THAT brought up?

9:57: “We’re ready, willing and able” says the guy who walked away from the negotiations.

9:57: Biden is getting seriously pissed, talking about the stalled Heroes Act. Good to see that passion flying.

9:58: Yes, Democratic cities were being helped, and so were Republican farmers. But hey, why not take the opportunity to throw out some xenophobic comments about how people are going to want to come here from foreign countries.

10:02: And he’s not going to answer this question. And no, we don’t have 400 miles of wall; it’s thirty. “We’re working on it; we’re trying very hard.” Uh huh.

10;04: “We made a mistake.” Four words you will NEVER hear Trump say.

10;07: And we’re back with the whole thing about the notion that immigrants are murderers and racists. Gee, why would ANYONE think he’s xenophobic.

10:10: Given a chance to show his empathy, Trump says one sentence and then goes to the attack. And now he’s hauling out the whole “I’ve done more for black people than any other president” bullshit.

10:12: Good. Don’t repeat the lie. Just say, “I never said that.” If you repeat the lie, that’s what people come away remembering.

10:12: Yes, he did run because of Barack Obama; because Obama made jokes about him.

10:15: Yes. He’s bringing up the exact story that I posted just the other day. Trump is spewing all sorts of bullshit that the Russians have been feeding them.

10:17: “I have great relations with all people.” Gee, I seem to recall lots of people writing books about how much they hate him.

10:18: “A dog whistle as big as a foghorn.” Best line so far.

10:19: Once again he admits a mistake, something Trump will never do. Of course, it could be argued that he’s changed his mind in this instance because his own son suffered from drug problems. But so what?

10:21: Asked and answered. He and Obama DID do things during the eight years. Trump seriously can’t process it. And yes, we did have a Republican congress. Talk them into it? McConnell made a point of saying he was going to block everything Obama wanted to do. You don’t get to blame a man who wasn’t president on things that Obama wasn’t able to do because the GOP blocked them.

10:23: No, he hasn’t done an incredible job. He’s been doing everything he can to remove all rules protecting the environment.

10:26: Biden is laughing again. That’s gonna make Trump nuts.

10:26: Well yes, the plan he’s describing is crazy, but that’s because that’s not remotely the plan; it’s just a figment of his imagination.

10:28: WIND KILLS BIRDS? SERIOUSLY? Next he’s going to say that roadrunners outwit coyotes.

10:30: Well, thank God that’s over…oh. Shit. They’re still going.

10:31: I’ve totally lost track of what they’re talking about.

10:34: “I was getting calls”. That’s what he always says when he makes shit up. And here’s the last question and once again HE DOESN’T ANSWER IT.

10:35: Biden, of course, answer it directly. It’s perfect because talking directly to Americans is when he’s at his best.

10:36: Anyone who forgets to vote at this point is so stupid that we don’t need their vote.

10:37: Christ, they’re going to say Trump won because he didn’t interrupt Biden.