Welcome to the Kakistocracy

1916572_689842171157910_6288094094310148293_nSisters and brothers, it’s time to shake off our spiritual hangover from November. Things are happening very fast since the Clown Prince was inaugurated. A high level of alertness is required right now.

No small feat, maintaining alertness during times like these. But by astrological logic, there’s a link between the intensity of world events and the degree of focus required.

Transit-wise, these are the most important years of our lives. So it’s no surprise that they’d be full of extraordinary happenings: they make us concentrate. We’re forced to stay clear, just to keep the lights on upstairs.

It’s the only approach that can get us through this with our integrity intact. In the process, we grow psycho-spiritually.

Staying sane

Conscientious Americans are walking a tightrope, with an abyss on both sides. On one side, there’s the threat of Cyanotype by John Dugdale, 1960
falling into groupthink — a danger whatever our political persuasion. On the other side, we risk falling into escapism, a theme whose variations include cynicism, passivity and despair.

To avoid these perils we need to press into service whatever rituals we use to maintain perspective. This takes self-discipline, because we need to do it regularly.

This might mean meditating more, or consulting more often with our spiritual teacher. It might mean re-reading The Power of Now, or throwing the I-Ching. We each have our own way reminding ourselves that There Are No Accidents.

For astrophiles, this means remembering that we were born into this particular era on purpose, i.e. soul purpose. Our pre-incarnate selves apparently felt we needed the lessons the world is presenting us with right now.

Not everyone subscribes, of course, to the law of universal purposefulness. But if we do, what better time than now, to put belief into practice?

A new circus has come to town, just as Ringling Brothers goes out of business. Out with the elephants, in with the screaming carrot demon.(2)

Stepping up our game

May we disabuse ourselves, once and for all, of the false dichotomy that pits the spiritual against the worldly? There’s no sacred-vs.-profane polarity here. Copping a cosmic perspective does not mean drifting off into self-indulgent abstraction.

Quite the contrary. Keeping a clear inner focus is how we step up our game on the battlefield of cultural events. It keeps us from getting sucked into the vortex of mass anxiety, so that we can pay d9f1c43e32586ffdf3a067c121066049attention to what’s happening on our watch.

Given the miniscule attention span of America’s media culture, personified by the toxic Gemini-gone-wrong who has emerged from it like a burst appendix, we’re given precious little time to reflect upon any one of his outrages before another takes its place.

Already this tangerine trash fire of a president has appointed foxes for several of the cabinet’s hen houses, and is about to start in on the Supreme Court. Have you noticed how many of his picks are good-ol’-boy Southerners? As former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown points out, Trump’s posse calls to mind a Civil War re-enactment where Dixie won the war.

And he has wasted no time raising his billy club at the anti-pipeline movement. As the elders of Standing Rock warned, we will need to pace ourselves with this one.

The We-Were-Here-First Ban

Last week’s anti-immigration orders show he has no intention of moderating his lust for jacked-up cultural warfare. Proudly pumping up his racist cred, he’s already axed his Attorney General for not doing his bidding, he’s inspired Democratic boycotts and municipal lawsuits, and he’s fired up airport demonstrators by the thousands before they’d even had the chance to hang up their pink hats.

Risibly, his orders disallow entry from just about every Muslim-majority country except where America’s attackers actually came from (the 9/11 perpetrators were mostly from Saudi Arabia, but it’s not 11350650_10205735212277674_8845145700016427121_nincluded in the ban. As for the San Bernadino perp, he was a US citizen).

Unsurprisingly, the edict leaves unscathed any countries where President Candy Corn has business interests. Nor does it say much about halting the H-1B tech visas: not likely, with men like Peter Thiel part of his new posse. (Uber‘s Travis Kalanick may or may not still be a BFF, as of this week).

Bullies don’t take on the rich and powerful. They target the vulnerable: war refugees, dissidents fleeing persecution, maids and gardeners trying to reunite with their families.

Smoke and mirrors

It is not knowable yet whether this scroll of royal writs will withstand the rigors of Congressional gridlock, resistance boycott, financial feasibility and global tolerance. What is knowable is that our headline-grabber-in-chief ‘s every action derives from an insatiable thirst for theater.

Such as his extravagant plan, right out of the gate, to expose the “voter fraud” that put Hillary Clinton over the top by millions of popular votes. A local wag suggested that he should hire for this job the investigators that O.J. Simpson used to find his ex-wife’s killer.

12799278_689844711157656_4957913182089447165_nThe cultural meaning of these conniptions is their shock value, and this is what has the conventional media playing straight into his hands. What better clickbait than the tantrums of an unembarrassable toddler-in-chief? (3

During the long, sordid months of election coverage, the news industry – despite being caught mortifyingly off-balance — was fat and happy from record ratings. This is the bottom-line reality behind Trump’s putative “war on media,” and it makes the issue far more complicated than the phrase suggests.

Headline addiction

Even when, last week, Washington pundits were quoted as calling his bloopers about crowd size “crazy” and “unhinged”, they were still giving him the headlines he craves.

We are now hearing that the media — or more specifically, journalists who criticize Trump — constitute “the opposition party.” The teeth-gnashing paradox here is that this same media (4) was the vehicle of Trump’s self-invention. These were the guys who put this blathering racist — Twitter’s id made manifest — into the White House.(5)

The chaos that surrounds Trump like Pigpen’s dust-cloud has left reporters flat-footed and scrambling. But the fact remains that by continuously repeating his lies and snit fits, and the reactions to them that echo outwards as from a bomb site, the journalistic establishment is diverting our attention from Trump’s substantive policy changes and behind-the-scenes criminality.

Our attention is being diverted from the crimes against humanity being planned by the soul-less politicos riding his coattails.12801393_684946164980844_800175085363843375_n

Adoring fans

As for Trump’s fans, they’re still riding a cheap buzz of vindication. They see their hero as boldly taking action. They love it that he’s jumping into things, seemingly fulfilling the vengeance fantasies he promised them.

With every day that passes, however, it seems more inevitable that his neuroses and incompetence will be his undoing. Only two weeks into office, the Great Negotiator is proving unable even to negotiate a meeting with the president of Mexico.

It is certain that his adoring crowds will forsake their used-hate-salesman once they’re hit in the pocketbook (healthcare, mortgage rates and job loss — through automation, not foreign competition). At that point, the only part of the job he enjoys – performing at the podium of his “victory” rallies — will be gone.

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Breathless musings

But the downfall of this kakistocrat could be a lot quicker, and less damaging, were the media to confine itself to soberly reporting what is important. Instead we’re getting Anderson Cooper’s breathless musings about whether Melania’s outfit was a true robin’s-egg blue.

Here is where we must step back and remember the big picture. The panic that has befallen Washington, the US public and the media establishment is not meaningless, from the point of view of the long-range transits we have been looking at.

One of the larger lessons of this period concerns the relationship of the media to the thinking public (discussed in my Tower of Babel blogs, Parts Two and Three).

Fake news

Consider the concept of fake news. Although barely hatched, it has changed its meaning several times already. At the moment, our mango Mussolini has wrested control of the phrase “fake news.” As Sam Bee has pointed out, he has plucked the words out of the media’s hands and pointed it at their heads.

He’s now using the idea to cajole his followers, as all good dictators do, into thinking they should mistrust everything that doesn’t come straight from him.

What most of us mean by fake news, by contrast — intentional disinformation — is a real thing, and it’s making the blood of truth-seekers run cold. But the only thing about it that’s new is that it’s now out into the open, and has been given a name. This is the first step in combating any monster.12744049_684164161725711_6730217165075925445_n

Fake news, an outgrowth of the digital capitalist economy, is comprised of insidious tricks of the trade such as native advertising, content marketing, and now, the publication of deliberate lies. These fall along an predictable trajectory of “Black Ops media developments. Americans forfeited the right to be surprised by these things years ago, when we allowed the ludicrous propaganda spewed by Fox to be referred to as “news.”

Although he would hate it if we took our attention away from him for even a second, it’s time to consider that what’s going on is about more than The Donald.

 

Notes

Title note: A kakistocracy is a “government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens.”

1 We’re in the assimilation phase of this transit, whose last peak was in Sept ’16.

2 The best of these insults are from John Oliver and Samantha Bee.

Title suggested by Nancy Sommers of Starlight News.

12821568_687329214742539_1325772638883185015_n4 When the conventional media, including Fox News and its ilk, uses the phrase “the media,” they aren’t talking about what some of us call clean media: outlets such as Mother JonesTruthDig, Democracy Now, The Intercept, The Baffler, Al Jazeera, Salon, Slate, The Nation or the mostly reliable The Guardian and New Statesman.

5 Alliteration thanks to the excellent David Talbot.

Image sources:
Cyanotype by John Dugdale, 1960
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