The mark of the beast …

… and, in Ontario, zombie revenge for “The People”


image of Trump yelling "she's not my type" superimposed over pic of E. Jean Carroll, his accuser.
E. Jean Carroll. (Not his type.)

LADIES AND GENTS, MEET E. Jean Carroll. Ms. Carroll, a distinguished author, enjoys the dubious honor of being the twenty-second — TWENTY-SECOND — woman to allege she was sexually abused by Donald Trump (raped, in fact). Being sexually molested by the Prez is now so common, we just gloss over it.

“Well, of course he did, it’s Trump, dude! How about those Raptors, eh?”

That must be why Ms. Carroll’s story, which I’m fairly sure would have made life just a little, what’s the word, awkward for any other President — in fact, back in the day, for any male at all, even a sanitation worker, even a CEO or vacuum cleaner salesman, or even a recently fired Beer Store employee — her story didn’t make a single front page.

That’s how much we care about women.

And you know what Trump said?

“She’s not my type.” Like sexual abuse would be understandable if she were. Lucky ol’ Ms. E. Jean Carroll!

Ms Carroll’s snapshot by the New York Times captures more than you might think, if you care to read it, and I do, especially because I know nothing about her background, personality or history. This is my newest party trick, which makes this all about me, and I don’t care how accurate I am, though I’m at an age where you’ll have to smile indulgently if I get even the least detail correct, like you do when a new acquaintance tries to nail your astrological sign.

“Oh, VIRGO! That was my second guess!”

And if I don’t get anything right you still have to indulge me because I’m old and you’re a millennial, which I define as anyone at least a week younger than me.

Anyway.

In the photo by the New York Times, Ms. Carroll wears a turtleneck sweater (I imagine her deciding what to wear for the interview, and doing the middle-aged woman “I’m going to hide my crepe-y neck” thing), and that detail, along with her short hairstyle gives her a sporty, casual look that’s still pulled together. She’s breezy. She’s the kind of woman who wears what she fancies, rather than what fashion dictates; who power walks, watches what she eats, but not fanatically, and possibly enjoys a friendly game of tennis. She’s not a “girly-girl” as female friends of mine might classify these things.

She’s up on environmental issues, she knows who killed the ERA, she’s political, and gives you her forthright opinions, even if you haven’t quite got around to asking her for them.

You’d hire her for the job.

Her tentative smile is a challenge more than an invitation. It’s like she wants to smile more naturally, let her smile bloom at little, but then constrains it. There may have been a day when she offered the smile without cost, but now there is a cost. You have to earn the smile.

But it’s her eyes that most fascinate me. They are forward, direct, but vulnerable, they are the eyes of someone who has been wounded and survived and wants you to know this; not for pity, but as a gift of her hard-won wisdom. And yet she’s not cynical.

Her eyes kill me. And her eyes arouse in me a kind of atavistic cave-man energy, so that, gay as a goose be damned, I sense that I would break a chair or five over the head of anyone who tried to harm her.

Donald Trump harmed her. Or, put in the over-heated rhetoric of the religious right, which for once seems appropriate:

The mark of the beast is upon her.

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Think about how far we’ve sunk. No, really, I want you to think about this. TWENTY-TWO women have accused Donald Trump of sexual abuse / rape and NOTHING HAPPENS.

NOTHING HAPPENS. Trump declares, to an online audience presumably of millions: “If there was intel from a foreign country about my political rivals, of course I’d take it!” But then he adds: “I’d do it again.”

This is, in fact, a confession: “I’d do it again.” To do something again, you must have done it once already. He’s telling us that he did accept foreign interference in the election.

He’s not just corrupt. He flaunts his corruption the way a flasher opens his dirty raincoat to flaunt his flaccid dick. Then he laughs and runs off. And NOTHING HAPPENS.

NOTHING HAPPENS.

Why doesn’t the justified public outrage sparked by #MeToo translate to impeachment or even arrest in Trump’s case? What is wrong with people and the system here?

Corrupt. A criminal. Through his “charity”, the “Trump Foundation,” he broke the law, willfully, with intent, mens rea, time after time, and that’s taking into account just this one organization, which was basically used to funnel charitable donations to his political campaign or into his own pocket.

The Board of Directors (his family), who were supposed to ensure that funds were used in compliance with statutory law, did not meet once after 1999 and rubber-stamped every cheque. And HE IS STILL PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

NOTHING HAPPENS.

And he dares to say, “Crooked Hillary”?

But that’s the marketing savvy at work. In marketing, it’s not “location, location, location,” but “repetition, repetition, repetition.” He never mentions Clinton without the adjective “crooked.” Just like he never says “New York Times” without “failing,” or responds to a criticism without “fake news.”

He knows, instinctively, that we remember best what we last heard, true or not. It’s the availability heuristic, and it’s the essence of the “genius” of the used-car salesman, or the purveyor of snake oil at nineteenth-century carnivals.

It’s like having a super-powerful Mafia don for POTUS, the kind who knows exactly how far he can go without technically breaking the law; or a five-year-old child who’s testing how far he can go before our patience is utterly exhausted (apparently much, much further than we could have possibly imagined).

Trump will tank the world’s economy with his tariffs, close down the press, start World War III with North Korea and China, and implement The Handmaid’s Tale on behalf of Mike Pence. NOTHING STOPS HIM.

Then, once it’s too late and the damage is done, he’s taken down and removed from office when he parallel parks in the wrong direction on a one-way street.

Assuming there are still streets.

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Dug-Up Ford, For The People.

Meanwhile, in Canada — just think, “up there” if you need to get your bearings — aware that our political drama is but a twinkling tea-light to the interplanetary flamethrower of the U.S., we plod dutifully onward in our horn-rimmed glasses and Chairman Mao suits, pushing in front of us like human shields our bargain-basement, brown-nosing tributes to the United States of Fuckery, our discount Donalds. We have our Andrew Scheer’s, our Jason Kenney’s, our Maxime Bernier’s, our Tanya Granic Allen’s and our Faith Goldy’s. These are, inevitably, members of the — does anyone remember what they’re called?

Anyone?

Are they the Wild Rose Party or the Reform Party or the Conservatives or the Progressive Conservatives, or…? They’ve changed names and interbred and put on the Hallowe’en masks so many times hoping we’ll forget and I’ve kinda lost track. No sooner does Andrew stand up and say, “the abortion debate will not be re-opened!” and we sigh with relief, when someone in Alberta says that the Rainbow Flag of Pride is comparable to the Nazi swastika, and boom! Tense again! Toes are clenched!

Let’s just say they are conservatives, and they are cannons loaded to the brim with loose shot. Pow-pow! Gay people are against liberty! What, are you tense? Time for a name-change! How about — Progressive Reform Roses!

Our conservatives are a herd of unruly cats in heat. No sooner does the “Gays against liberty” thing die down but that Andrew poses with Faith Goldy, our dime-store Sally Bowles and pin-up girl for White Supremacists, the thinking Nazi’s wank.

"... The Canada we long for is so white, mein Herr, 
And if you're not, you'd best stay out of sight, mein Herr,
Your niqab'd women give us such a fright, mein Herr!
So I preach
Racial hate
And the whites
take the bait
..."

or it’s Tanya “vomiting” on cue at the thought of gay marriage and —

— why is it that the bigots who go crazy at the idea of gay people spend so much time obsessing about gay people? You’d think their therapist would tell them to think of something else, wouldn’t you? Maybe some deep breathing? Take up stamp collecting? —

— wringing her hands because, in her twisted world, up-to-date sex education means that grade school kids are spending their class-time dreaming up perverse, new ways to use their properly-named genitals when they should be learning their times tables.

This is what conservatives are worried about. What you’re doing with your genitals, how better to punish the poor for being poor, how to keep people arguing with each other and not asking awkward questions, and how to keep government small, but not quite small enough to let women determine what to do with their own wombs.

Meanwhile our real problems — homelessness and a nationwide crisis of affordable housing, a dying planet exacerbated by deniers in the pockets of the oil industry, a war against women, an underfunded healthcare system, underfunded transit, reparations for our First Nations genocide, stagnant wages and weary cynicism, nepotism and corruption — get the same old treatment, which is nothing except the slow torture of death by a thousand cuts that makes privatization “logical” and “inevitable.”

Lower taxes, tough on crime: The little-black-dress-with-pearls of conservative policy. You look good in it, it goes everywhere and makes itself the perfect solution for every problem. Dress it up or dress it down, it’s safely non-committal, yet chic. Wear it to work cutting Arts Council grants, then off you go to a cocktail reception at the World Economic Summit with just a quick refresh of your lipstick!

Canada’s current signature knock-off, the Premier (think Governor) of Ontario, who has launched the Titanic of Ontario’s deficit onto the icy seas of austerity, the vessel on its maiden voyage of doom is, of course, that bloated barge, Premier Doug “Is-it-real-or-is-it-undead?” Ford.

With his maniac, mirthless muppet-grin frozen at the limits of plasticity, but betrayed by the deadness in his eyes as fakery, ol’ Dug-Up has set about being the fox of the people in the hen house of Liberal corruption and overspending.

He is the People’s Premier. He is For The People. He is going to drain the swamp, stand up for the little guy, make Canada great again, and —

Hold on, hold on…. this is weird but — I’m having this déjà-vu moment. Is it possible that….? This all sounds strangely familiar and… Do you get that, too?

Nah. Just being paranoid. It can happen! Probably a bad sweet potato fry from dinner last night. I made the fries from scratch, and they were delicious, but I did notice a couple of little round holes in the flesh of the potato, holes that looked like little worm holes.

So I bet I ate a sweet-potato worm and that’s what’s causing this headache and nausea and inability to stop sobbing with despair.

Now, the first thing Ford did after winning the prize — although the entire City of Toronto voted against him, literally the entire city, fearful of what was to come, the 1998 amalgamation of Toronto with its conservative suburbs did its intended work once again — was to make it perfectly clear that this wasn’t going to be an ordinary Premiership.

With an overwhelming mandate to ignore his platform and do whatever he wanted, Ford redrew Toronto wards to favour his “base” — a noun that serves perfectly as its own adjective — in the middle of the Toronto council election campaign, thereby cutting City Council in half and knocking out anyone at City Hall who might have elitist ideas and/or who gave his late bro, Rob, disrespect.

You see, this isn’t just politics. This is personal.

Ford pushed through his gerrymandering by threatening to invoke the Notwithstanding Clause (this is the weasel clause in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, allowing inalienable rights to be taken away for five years at a time — but we made everyone cross their hearts and hope to die that they wouldn’t use it frivolously, so that’s OK!) then, dashing over to the Ontario Legislature, proceeded to install his cronies and relatives to various key positions, all while while cutting Ontario’s essential services to the tune of billions of dollars, to solve the crisis of the deficit, which was not a crisis.

Up to speed?

The list of the Doug Ford government’s cuts in its first year is exhausting and dispiriting to read. Here it is. (Click on the image to view the full-size, readable version.)

a list of cuts made by the Conservative government in Ontario in the first year after their election.
CLICK TO VIEW.
From: National Observer (http://bit.ly/2KGbKYd),
June 7, 2019, Byline: Fatima Sayed.

The thing about Doug Ford and his conservatives being For the People is — what people, exactly? They don’t seem to be for students getting up-to-date education, or even breakfast; or artists, or scientists and researchers, or workers, injured or whole; or people of the First Nations, or women who’ve been abused, or who have not been abused, or at-risk youth; or people with low incomes, or non-binary and trans persons (who endured the humiliation of Tanya Granic Allen’s motion, adopted by the members, that gender identity was “liberal ideology,”), or people needing medications, or tourists, or prisoners, or people with addictions, or people with HIV or cancer.

Who, exactly, are they for? Or is this just a great big ideological cluster-fuck of “All government is bad, all money in my pocket is good and I’m gonna show those Toronto elites what happens when you kill my bro!” ?

Some day, I believe, we’ll all come to our senses again. The scales will fall from our eyes. We’ll stop in-fighting and start protesting. We’ll see through the manipulations, the cant, the idiotic conspiracy theories — all the attempts to steer us away from seeing the truth: That the system that grinds us into dust, a system rigged for the benefit of a few fat, rich, old white men, is not broken. It’s doing what it was designed to do.

That reality is bad enough by itself, and has no need of the hot fudge sauce and the chopped nuts on top.

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