May 02, 2023
“Circling the drain.” It’s a phrase I first heard in a non-plumbing context when a doctor said it in reference to my elderly father’s condition.
It basically means dying, but not yet dead. The end seems certain, but the patient clings to life.
It’s a terribly brutal phrase to use regarding a person.
Or a nation.
Recently, I must admit I’ve started to wonder if, and to what extent, the U.S. might be circling the drain. Now, don’t get me wrong; America’s not gonna die and I’m not suggesting we’re near the end. There’s not gonna be a race war or national divorce, and I know we’re all in mourning over Tucker, but when he screeched about how Pelosi’s Taiwan trip was gonna launch WWIII, I said it wasn’t gonna happen. And when he claims the Ukraine war is gonna launch WWIII, again I say, not gonna happen.
I grew up during the Reagan years. Back when the leftists were the Tucks and not a day went by without kids like me being told by the media and our teachers that “nukyular war” was imminent.
I had one high school teacher who made us watch The Day After. Another who forced us to see Testament. And I laughed all through ’em. I’d seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre when I was 8; movies don’t scare me.
And then a third teacher showed us Threads and I was like, “Okay, that’s unnerving.”
Point is, I’m immune to apocalypse fearmongering. We ain’t gonna blow up.
But…we’re gonna change. That’s for damn sure. My pessimism stems from the fact that I’m increasingly convinced that some of the most distressing aspects of today’s U.S., the things that trouble sober Americans, are here to stay.
Sure, the America into which I was born in 1968 was a place of turmoil. Race riots, political unrest, crime and decay in large cities. We’ve all seen the images of 1970s Times Square, and I can offer personal recollections of 1970s Hollywood. Though I lived in Beverly Hills, I was an avid movie memorabilia collector, so my mom would take me to Hollywood every weekend to check out the newest arrivals at Hollywood Book & Poster and Larry Edmunds and all the legendary stores on and off Hollywood Boulevard.
Now, whereas today you walk down that street and you see homeless, methheads, and stoners exiting the pot shops that line the boulevard, in my day, you’d see homeless, angel dusters, and public masturbators exiting the porn theaters that lined the boulevard.
My point is, the characters changed, but (like Downtown) it’s shit now and it was shit then.
But here’s the big difference between 1970s urban rot and that of the present day: In the ’70s, everyone took it for granted that the men at the top (be it federal, state, or city) were serious individuals. We trusted that the white dudes with the “establishment” haircuts and square suits who ran things didn’t want or like the rot. These men were flawed, as politicians are and always have been. They used mistresses or hookers, they drank, they stole. And a lot of ’em were “characters,” but in a Frank Rizzo way where we still instinctively understood that they cared about their city/state/nation.
Nobody said, “There should be more crime, prisons should be abolished, prosecutions should be ended, policing should cease, theft should be legalized, and crime victims should be told to go to hell if they complain.” Nobody said, “Sex fiends should be mainstreamed and escorted by the National Guard like the Little Rock Nine into the bathrooms of schoolgirls to assault and terrorize them.”
Through the days of ’70s rot, we had optimism because it was taken for granted that the guys at the top were at least trying to fix things, if only because they knew it was their only path to reelection.
That optimism is completely gone. And you can say, “Yeah, but once we vote out them DEMONRATS, them DIMOCRATS, we can beat 2020s rot, too!”
I ain’t so sure.
Did you know there’s a huge debate over who killed the hat? One day, most men wore hats outside the home. Then they didn’t. Some say JFK killed the hat. Others think it was Ike. But the point is, once wearing hats was no longer a matter of social pressure, of following a norm just because…once you were told, “Hey, you don’t gotta wear that; it’s your choice,” hat-wearing among men plummeted. Certainly, there are dudes who still wear hats, some on a daily basis, some occasionally. But hat-wearing will never again be what it was, because the taboo of not wearing one can’t be restored. Americans saw that you could ditch the hat, and life went on. You can’t roll things back to, “But you have to wear a hat because that’s just how it’s done.”
The stuff that previously could never be said, the stuff that even leftist Democrats wouldn’t say because they figured they’d get slaughtered at the ballot box, has been said. “Stop prosecuting crime, stop imprisoning criminals, stop caring about crime victims. There’s no such thing as a woman; there are only men in dresses, who must be celebrated, and lesser beings who think they’re women because they were born with a uterus and vagina, who must be vilified. White people are also lesser beings; they too must be vilified.”
This is out in the open now, promoted by politicians across the nation, by the media, and by corporations and schools. That genie can’t go back in the bottle, because previously unspeakable ideas are now normal discourse. Even if you don’t agree with what’s being said, even if you hate it, you’re forced to acknowledge that it’s being spoken aloud and life in America goes on. Those previously unthinkable, unsayable talking points are being thought and spoken, and folks have grown used to it. Meaning that you can fight little fights here and there to keep the madness from spreading, but the taboo will never return.
In the past you could tell a man, “Wear a hat because men wear hats.” That was the extent of it, the only argument you needed. These days, if some politician were to try to bring hats back, he’d have to make a case for it. “Here’s how hat-wearing will benefit you!” And if voters decide, “Okay, we’ll try wearing hats,” and the promised benefits don’t arrive, well, the hat guy and his party would likely lose the next election.
In America’s golden days we didn’t say, “Men in dresses must be allowed entry into restrooms used by female children,” because we just didn’t. It was unthinkable. Once it became thinkable, and now that it’s a reality in cities across all U.S. regions, you can’t go back to the days when it was off the table. Each passing year, Americans just grow more and more used to it being there. So today, if you want to argue, “Mentally ill men in dresses shouldn’t watch female children pee,” you have to explain why.
Which means you’ve lost.
You can push back here and there, but it’ll encroach here and there. You know what I’m not seeing much of these days, at least not as much of as, say, just two years ago? Boastful RED STATERS pig-squealing, “Gyuck gyuck ahm totally safe in mah RAY-UD STAY-UT.”
Too many growing “blue” cancers in red states. Too many “red state/blue city” blacks murdering whites and getting away with it (and too many whites fighting back and going to prison). Too many Nebraska and Montana trannies. And to make matters worse, the party that’s supposed to be trying to counter the flood of rot has split, with half mindlessly obsessed with draconian abortion laws that (as countless examples over the past year have demonstrated) alienate even red-state voters, and the other half just mindless, the brain-dead cult of the most un-serious “characta” to ever hold national office. And these cultists have become so detached from reality they’ll stop at nothing to tank one of the few governors actively and successfully not just holding back the flood but reclaiming some earth. They’ll call him any name in the book, including pedophile, and if you think about that—the GOP’s largest activist base is now more concerned with calling a non-pedophile a pedophile than it is with fighting the actual pervs in schoolgirls’ bathrooms, a fight the besieged governor has competently waged but who knows for how much longer because the people who should be on his side have decided to destroy him as they blindly follow a man who flooded the streets with black criminals and who now wages war against a governor who stands up to black criminals—if you think about that and you feel pessimistic, you’re feelin’ right.
Don’t call the undertaker yet, but we may be circling the drain.
Because there are very few “serious men” left. They’re either on the side of the rot, or they’re too weak to fight it, or they’ve given themselves over to a level of reality detachment so severe, calling it cultish isn’t extreme enough.
When I used to do film production, I worked with a few Scientologists. They were nowhere near as far gone as MAGAs.
Even putting the MAGAs aside, and Lord how I wish that could be done nonfiguratively, I don’t hold much hope for the other supposed “rot-fighters” on the right. Certainly, the GOP establishment will be as useless as ever. As I said a few weeks ago, they’ll always be attentive to pro-life, because pro-lifers want only attention, not electoral victories. But beyond that, the GOP has become remarkably good at jumping on every new bullshit-wagon (blacks are magic, white is bad, men are women).
And Tuck? Freed from Fox’s corporate lawyers, expect him to devote even more time to his favorite big-picture conspiracies. World War III! The CIA killed Kennedy(s)! J6 was a fed setup! Small issues bore Tuck; he wants to be Antony Sutton, telling you tall fanciful tales so that as the rot advances you won’t be able to stop it but at least you can smugly snort, “I know the hidden cause of this!”
And the rest of the right’s leading lights? The ones who threw me under the bus ten years ago because MSNBC called me a hatemonger? How long do you think they’ll resist the daily lectures of “Your words are killing trans kids” and the daily pressure to “Stop committing genocide”? Most high-profile rightists long ago caved on the race issue, and I’ll make a prediction: Four years from now…maybe less…those same weaklings will be claiming that the Democrats are the real transphobes.
Mark my words; they’ll fold.
The fight’s just too damn hard.
I’m not being sarcastic; it really is. And every passing day makes it harder.
And the right doesn’t have enough people up to the task, and too many people actively shirking it.
Take heart; there’ll be no nuclear holocaust.
But America will mutate, all the same.