Your Latest Review of Current Events

I’ve heard the theory amongst neurologists and behaviorists that the major difference between autistic people and neurotypical people is that the neurodiverse lack certain neurological filters that are present in neurotypical folks, and are exposed to the dizzying multitude of information conveyed by human senses, and, in the face of a wall of unsorted information they (like most of us would), “shut down” and crumble.

I bring that up because this entire week feels like that. I am writing this on the afternoon of Thursday, September 26; that’s important, because, by the time I finish dinner, almost all of the information here is likely to be outdated. Hell, we’re at the point where an obviously-coked-up President might hit the nuclear button, and we’ll all be London Broil by that time. Things are not only moving fast; I was tempted to stay in bed all day because things are developing at a surreal pace. I only have access to the same Internet sources you do, and I’m really writing this as a form of self-therapy to sort through the most recent wave of random news items, and try to figure out if there’s something in the water, if my organic brain disease is progressing, or if someone figured out time travel and has created a time paradox, the results of which caused a chain reaction, that is unraveling the very fabric of the space-time continuum, and destroying the universe.

So, how weird is it, really?

Earlier this week, Greta Thunberg got in front of the UN and told them that we’d all be dead within a decade or two if climate change continued unchecked, and that was one of the more comforting sentiments I’ve heard in the last week.

At the other end of the spectrum, the most completely-unhinged claim I’ve seen in the last day is R. Giuliani, who said — and this is a direct quote reported by CNN ( https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/26/politics/giuliani-denies-charges-whistleblower-complaint-ukraine/index.html), I shit thee not:

“I should be as sympathetic as a whistleblower. I did my job and now all these people are torturing me.”

Almost-good job there, Rudy; you forgot the unfortunate legal precedent set at Nuremburg where the defense, “I was just following orders” isn’t really a good defense, when said orders are actually illegal. Most of El Chapo’s employees are also just doing their job, but the DEA seems to take offense at their actions.

It might seem a little odd that I’m comparing a former New York prosecutor with the most successful drug kingpin in history (especially since one of them is a man of almost unimaginable wealth and power and the other is, well, Rudy Giuliani), but such are the strange, terrible times in which we live.

If you could just describe the insanity with a single statistic?

On the 24th, the Senate unanimously voted to release the full whistleblower complaint to the public. Which means M. McConnell is so frightened at the implications going on, he’s decided it’s best not even to interfere.

Are you tired of winning, yet?

No, but I am tired of waking up and wondering if I died in neurosurgery in 2017, and this is just some weird version of Purgatory. To give you an idea of how completely mad the planet has gone, there’s a non-zero chance Nancy Pelosi might end up in the White House.

Not Pence?

So, for all of my British readers, an impeachment proceeding is like a grand jury proceeding — even if it goes through, there’s no guarantee The Donald will be removed from office (again, though, if McConnell is moving to avoid the potential political fall-out, things have got to be bad). If The Donald is removed from office, Pence would be next in the chain of succession (Speaker of the House is after that). That was probably the general thinking last night, until The Donald unwittingly threw his own VP under the bus by saying that he had also talked to the Ukrainian leadership ( https://mavenroundtable.io/theintellectualist/api/amp/theintellectualist/news/trump-throws-pence-under-the-bus-in-ukraine-scandal-ask-him-about-his-calls-yyF8TGPAg0a815d-eZ0xAQ). To be fair, even though William Barr and several other officials were named in the whistleblower complaint, Pence wasn’t even on the list to investigate, until The Donald, displaying that cool, calculating mind that has seen him through more marriages than King Solomon, flailed around and accidentally sort of implicated his own Vice President. Again, it seems unlikely, but so did impeachment proceedings a week ago. Next week, madness, cannibalism, utter chaos (which might liven up a dull dinner party, but, as a general policy, seems bad); who knows?

In his 2016 campaign, The Donald famously claimed he could shoot someone in Times Square and still get elected. What we now know is, the far-more likely scenario is that he’d be aiming for a shark in the ocean, do a weird turn-about and wind up shooting his biggest fan, himself.

Speaking of N. Pelosi, is there a really weird, out-of-character-for-The-Donald move concerning her?

I’m quite glad you asked. Despite The Donald’s repeated claims of invincibility, he seems so horrified at impeachment proceedings (or possibly what Congress might discover in such proceedings) that he reportedly called her up a day before she announced impeachment proceedings, and begged her not to proceed ( https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-asked-pelosi-to-negotiate-amid-impeachment-probe-she-declined-2019-9). At this point, it almost doesn’t matter if The Donald is removed from office; she’s effectively the power behind the throne if the President is desperately seeking to parlay with her. Given how clearly-misogynistic Trump’s behavior was regarding Clinton in the 2016 election, it seems almost karmic that he’s now bargaining for his political life with a woman who not only scares the hell out of Republicans everywhere, but has emerged victorious from almost all of her political challenges. Also, if Trump’s career is now dependent upon his PR and salesmanship abilities (his legendary affinity for making deals), I’ll give even odds he’s in front of a firing squad before Thanksgiving. I’m well aware that wasn’t on the table of likelihoods yesterday, but Mike Pence’s career going up in indictments wasn’t either.

Is there some unequivocally good news from the latest news cycle?

Yes, R. Giuliani was actually named in the whistleblower complaint, so it’s possible he may be removed from circulation and sent to wherever they’re hiding Kellyanne Conway from the public eye. That brief respite for the soul of America might justify the recent bout of madness.

Is there a single article that’s symptomatic of how chaotic US politics is right now?

Yes; noted dark wizard and statistician Nate Silver is on-record saying that he’s officially out of his depth for predicting anything ( https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/if-this-is-trumps-best-case-the-ukraine-scandal-is-looking-really-bad-for-him/). When N. Silver says, “I got nothing but gut instinct and I’ve been having recent tummy trouble;” something weird is going down.

I wrote earlier this week about how the 20th century sociopolitical system by which we live is aggressively, dangerously self-reinforcing and self-perpetuating, and tends to grind up any and all who stand in their path; The Donald may currently be a free man, but it would appear he’s rapidly becoming a direct threat to both The Establishment, and things common serfs love in this country, like rule of law, order, and no large-scale cannibalism. I honestly never thought I’d be rooting heart and soul for a career politician like N. Pelosi, but here we are. Welcome to Thursday.

It’s worth noting that one analysis I’ve read suggested that latest round of ousters left Trump in total, unchallenged political control of the presidency ( https://www.politico.com/story/2019/09/19/trump-presidency-aides-white-house-1502041). What’s telling is that story was published on the 19th, and, literally less than a week later, N. Pelosi was announcing formal impeachment proceedings. Admittedly, this is about incidents that occurred in July, but, literally, less than week left entirely to his own devices, and the president is looking to be on the wrong end of the legal system.

Is there a pithy, three-word, jingoistic slogan you’ll be using frequently in coming days to remind everyone of the ludicrous, cruelly ironic nature of current affairs?

Lock her up!

On a more serious note; the other night on The Daily Show, CA governor Gavin Newsom pointed out that The Donald’s popularity among his base has never really waned, but also pointed out that, because The Donald has only ever acted as the president of that base (which is actually a minority of Republicans), he hasn’t engaged any of the sort of political team-building or new-voter/supporter recruitment that’s traditionally needed for reelection or seeing politicians through these sorts of Titanic-level political disasters, which means that if even a slim percentage of Trump supporters become former Trump supporters, The Donald is toast.

The Donald himself, has responded to recent events in a noted, even-handed statesmanlike way of issuing a terse-but-polite press release saying he will cooperate fully with investigators and will issue no further public statements until — just kidding. He got black-out drunk (best-case scenario) and went on Twitter to claim that the whistleblower is engaging in a partisan, political move (even though the Inspector General concluded, in his own investigation, that the whistleblower’s complaint was substantive and non-political in nature) and make vague, veiled death threats and chip away at the whistleblower’s qualifications, saying they were “basically a spy” (in the intelligence community? Surely not, The Donald) who would’ve been “handled a different way in the old days.” ( https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/26/us/politics/trump-whistle-blower-spy.html)

Yikes. Public temper tantrums, grandiose claims, psychosis, death threats; is there a specific character — or even scene — that’s just begging for a comparison?

Oh, yes.

Next week in America; undead armies, dragons, incest, and Dothraki hordes! Be sure to tune in!

Written by

Science journalist, cancer survivor, biomedical consultant, the “Wednesday Addams of travel writers.”

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