Thursday, May 18, 2017

Deep State Interregnum

The media-political complex is breathing a collective sigh of relief now that the Police-Surveillance State has the whole free world in its hands, having been awarded essential control of the federal government during this Trumpian crisis of leadership.

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller's stated task is to investigate Donald Trump and his administration's connections to Russia. His overriding actual task, however, is to provide a place of greater safety during these perilous times for the Powers That Be and late-stage capitalism. He is being portrayed in the corporate media as a Moses with a badge who will shepherd us from the Trumpian desert of chaos back to the  promised land of good and plenty for a smarter, better, non-Tweeting oligarchy.

"Both Democrats and Republicans embrace Robert Mueller as Special Counsel" and "Mueller Hailed By Both Parties" and "Rare Bipartisan Moment" and "New Special Counsel Known For Independence" and "Both Sides Have Utmost Confidence in Mueller" and "Mueller Universally Respected" are the typical and ominous headlines lauding our new unelected Rescuer-in-Chief. He is the wet dream of the extreme center. After all, the FBI under Mueller's directorship concentrated more on scapegoating alleged foreign terrorists and manufacturing homegrown plots than it did investigating the true domestic economic terror unleashed on ordinary people by Wall Street and plundering multinationals.

That Mueller arrives at his new gig through the revolving door from a white shoe law firm which has represented Paul Manafort, himself suspected of Russian wheeling and dealing, along with Jared Kusher and Ivanka Trump, is apparently no cause of concern. These incestuous plutocratic relationships happen. They are pretty much unavoidable in the rarefied world of the .01%. I can already hear the wrist-slapping.

 So we proles are actually supposed to be happy and grateful, now that what is grotesquely called the "Intelligence Community" is taking over and effectively reducing Donald Trump to a quivering blob of jelly. The question remains as to whether this blatant "deep state" interregnum will be temporary or permanent.

The media's war against Trump has surged to epic, nearly vicious proportions in just a few short days, ever since he spilled alleged state secrets to Russian diplomats. Tune in to CNN for an hour, or scan the front pages of the Washington Post and the New York Times. The media mission is clear: remove Trump from office by any means necessary. Impeachment, criminal indictment, gaslighting, the 25th amendment - they're all on the table. The odds of him lasting out his term exponentially decrease with every passing day.

Nicholas Kristof, resident neoliberal concern troll of the New York Times, is typical of the gloating journalistic genre:
By firing James Comey as F.B.I. director, President Trump set in motion the appointment Wednesday evening of Robert Mueller as special counsel. Mueller is a Trump nightmare: a pro who ran the F.B.I. for 12 years and is broadly respected by both parties in Washington for his competence and integrity. If Trump thought he was removing a thorn by firing Comey, he now faces a grove of thistles.
One crucial lesson here: Pressure matters. It was public opinion that stalled the Republican effort to repeal Obamacare, and it is public opinion in part that will ensure the integrity of this investigation.
It is, of course, the job of Kristof and his media cohort to mold this public opinion, to steer us toward accepting a national police state as the guardian of democracy.  All we should want is that this "cloud over the presidency be removed." Whether this cloud-removal will actually allow the bright sun of government by, for and of the people to ever shine through is not examined in his column. What should matter to us is not where our next meal or loan payment is coming from, but whether Trump and Putin were really in cahoots. Also, we should be bowing down in reverence to the Times and the Post for their intrepid publication of leaks about the crumbling of a man whom they themselves were instrumental in elevating to power.

I can actually envision Trump just quitting. He can't trust anyone. Every time he farts, it's in the New York Times. Whoever is leaking details of internal executive branch chaos to the media is so close to him that even the subtle shades of redness on his scowling face are being reported in the most minute detail.

Despite the fact that the Surveillance State has essentially suborned our remaining democratic processes, Mueller's investigation might at least drag on long enough to also do lasting political damage to Trump's dangerous successor(s). Vice President Michael Pence is even more terrifying than his boss because he knows the system so well. Unlike Trump, he's a diehard right-wing ideologue with friends in high establishment places and a proven ability to get some truly nasty things done. So let's at least hope that enough Trumpian dirt rub offs on Pence and those other two psychopaths, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, to irreparably weaken them right into some premature lucrative retirements.

One example of Trump not being able to get things done while this investigation proceeds is his plan to destroy the entire American public education system. His kleptocratic agenda makes the neoliberal No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top stealth attacks on education by the previous two administrations seem positively benign in comparison:
Funding for college work-study programs would be cut in half, public-service loan forgiveness would end and hundreds of millions of dollars that public schools could use for mental health, advanced coursework and other services would vanish under a Trump administration plan to cut $10.6 billion from federal education initiatives, according to budget documents obtained by The Washington Post. The administration would channel part of the savings into its top priority: school choice. It seeks to spend about $400 million to expand charter schools and vouchers for private and religious schools, and another $1 billion to push public schools to adopt choice-friendly policies.
Members of Congress are becoming increasingly loath to work with the White House, given the pressing manufactured concerns about RussiaGate. So these competing witch hunts -- against both Trump, and against public spaces and programs -- may cancel one another out,  paradoxically end up being a very good thing for ordinary citizens despite the best malign intentions of the extreme centrists, After all, were it not for the drama of the Clinton impeachment, Social Security might well be privatized by now too. It was on the bipartisan table then, and it's on the table now.

The Democratic Party leadership, for its part, is passive-aggressively trying to tamp down the Trump feeding frenzy. One must not act too greedy or too hasty too soon before the 2018 midterms, they say, lest one appear too greedy or hasty and risk losing one's own tentative grasp on power. Let Mueller perform his role so Congress doesn't have to perform theirs.
So despite the five-alarm fire that Trump is accused of igniting, there's no cause for more than a spritz here or there to keep the funds of fear rolling in to the Democratic Party with every new Trump atrocity outrage.

In the short term, I suppose it's preferable that our ankle-biting elected officials remain too busy and too distracted going after each other and grabbing for power and posturing for the TV cameras to find enough free time to break any more promises to their constituents.
  But what about tomorrow, next month, next year, ten years from now?

To paraphrase Ezio Mauro, we citizens have our own bridge to cross, the one  leading from the landscape of inchoate anger and occasional protest to a place of hope, projects and proposals, and mutual aid, a place where we can actually change things.

As J.M. Coetzee writes in Diary of a Bad Year, "The question why life must be likened by a race, or why the national economies must race against one another rather than going for a comradely jog together, for the sake of health, is not raised. Why does the world have to be a kill-or-be-killed gladiatorial amphitheatre rather than, say, a busily cooperative beehive or anthill?" 

Perhaps we can take a break from the very important people's hysteria over RussiaGate and change the conversation entirely while they are so busily and deliberately not paying sufficient attention to us.

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