Monday, November 30, 2020

Waiting for Brunhilde


The opera has grown increasingly Wagnerian, and I never had much tolerance for Wagner — too long and just too noisy to sleep through.  Although all the major news outlets have accepted the idea that Biden won the election, a distressingly large number of Americans still firmly believe that Tr*mp was “robbed” of  victory.  The cognitive dissonance suffered by Our President is shared by his loyal base; and their news sources are working hard to preserve their illusions.

Trump still seems to be counting on “his” Supreme Court to back up his play to remain in power, and the first test of loyalty will be his attempt to discount illegal immigrants when allocating representation in the House.  Frankly, I can’t see how self-proclaimed “Originalists” and “Literalists” can twist the plain language of the Constitution to exclude them, but logical consistency, of late, hasn’t been held in especially high regard.

For all the optimism around the Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca vaccines, it’s hard to imagine a two-dose protocol having enough impact to make much of a difference. It’s hard enough to get people inoculated even once, much less have them return for a second dose a month later.  In the Third World especially, dispensing on-time second doses will be next to impossible.

Wagner’s painfully long Ring Cycle “ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings” — and it looks like the fat lady, this time around, isn’t even waiting in the wings.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Tr*mp, the Opera


Reality being what it is at the moment, I’ve found it easier to cope by viewing current events as a kind of dramatic performance which, sooner or later, will have to be over.  Too tragic for farce and too farcical for tragedy, it has to be opera.  The music is in my head.

In my libretto, Tr*mp sincerely believes the craziness he’s been spouting (and Giuliani sings the role of Tr*mp’s id.). All his life, Tr*mp has been a devotee of Norman Vincent Peale’s Power of Positive Thinking.  He genuinely believed he would win a second term: after all, positive thinking always had worked for him before!  (It often works pretty well for those who are born to rich fathers who bail them out of all their failures.)

Friedenberg’s cognitive dissonance theory gives us a useful description of how people behave when their deeply held beliefs are disconfirmed.  Their first response is to double-down, finding rationalizations for why the disconfirmed belief remains valid.  With a decent number of fellow believers (or sychophantic enablers) around them, they can cling to their delusions for a long time.  

Chorus: Indeed, Sir, ’tis a dark conspiracy!
             If you believe it, we, of course, agree!

Rudy:    And I, your knight, shall rout the enemy
              Including Soros, Gates, and AOC!

(In a subplot, Christian Soldier Mike Pompeo is off in the Middle East, pursuing policies aimed at hastening the Apocalypse and the Second Coming.  He has his own delusions, and his own agenda.)

I don’t know when the curtain finally will come down on Tr*mp, and I expect that Tr*mpism will outlast him.  Meanwhile, the virus thuds along the bass clef like a tympani, impossible to ignore for long, however hard we try.  This opera, I’m afraid, is Wagnerian — too dark, too noisy, and too damned long.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

About that election...


 You may feel like it's okay to take a breath now, but the stink of authoritarian populism still hangs heavy in the air.  Biden may aspire to lead a united country, but it won't be happening any time soon — if ever.  Some of the oversized American flags may come off the pickup trucks, but the American reservoir of racism and misogyny remains full to the brim, continues to spill over into the streets, and will allow Republicans to continue exploiting the divisions that make minority rule possible.

Tr*mp's supporters. whether they know it or not, are okay with fascism — and there are a hell of a lot of them.  Add in the 20% who didn't trouble themselves to vote – which probably means they figure they can live with anything – and that's a significant majority of America.  That ratio is probably neither better nor worse than what you'd find in other developed countries, human nature being what it is, but the past four years offered ample evidence that the threat of fascism in the USofA is real.