I’ve been mighty quiet on The Running Iron Report. I don’t feel good about it. Actually, I feel negligent. The strange and disconcerting thing is that, now that the Crash that Rullman and I have been anticipating for years is upon us, I don’t seem to have much to say about it. I feel like I’m just standing by some metaphorical LA aqueduct, like William Mulholland announcing the arrival of the torrent of water he stole from the Owens Valley. All I can say is:
“There it is. Take it.”
Some of my friends have urged me to turn my pen on the bizarre phenomenon of President Donald Trump. Not interested. There is nothing about that man that cannot be explained by the simple dictum that I have applied since 2016:
Follow the narcissism.
I do not wish to spend any more time than I am forced to in the company of a man unworthy of consideration, much less the highest office in the land. And it’s not as though his manifest failures of leadership are an aberration in an otherwise functional polity. Failures of leadership can be found at every turn, and on both ends of the political spectrum. Unsurprisingly, the farther out into the ideological zone one goes, the more frequent and profound those failures of leadership become.
I recently wasted time and effort I won’t get back — on social media (I KNOW) — decrying the pathetic state of chaos that the mayor of Portland and governor of Oregon have allowed to fester for the better part of two months in the downtown core of a city I used to love. Now we have federal snatch teams on the street rolling up nihilistic vandals who have latched like parasites onto protests stemming from the killing of George Floyd, to indulge in wanton destruction and a minor siege of the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse.
I don’t like it; I don’t applaud it. There is no good outcome from this kind of action, which will be exploited by everyone with a dog in the 2020 electoral fight to grandstand and promote bullshit narratives.
Things should never have come to this pass. Municipal authorities have thrown up their hands and abdicated responsibility for the security and livability of their own city, and the governor has refused to act since June 1, so somebody is gonna do something. Targeted action would seem to be both more effective and less provocative than wholesale head-cracking — but that doesn’t seem to register with those whose fixation on Trump won’t let them see anything outside the context of Trump. Which, ironically, is exactly how Trump views the world himself…
Pointless, I know. All of it. Everything is viewed through an ideological lens these days and people simply believe what they want to believe. I could spend hours every day calling out hypocrisy and double-standards. Many of the very same people who are wringing their hands about the action in Portland were demanding action when the Bundy Gang took over federal property at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. That includes Governor Kate Brown, who then demanded federal action and is now demanding that the feds leave Portland.
I didn’t hear those of my friends who were appalled at the Malheur takeover saying that we should “listen to the protestors and acknowledge that there is a problem.” And they sure as hell shed no tears when LaVoy Finicum was killed. And, on the flip, people who were ready to fight the feds over the Bundy claims are perfectly happy to see them rounding up “Antifa” in the big city. And so it goes.
But blazing away at fish in a barrel is not how I want to spend my time.
Which leads me back to questioning what I might write, what tale that I might tell, that actually offers value. I recoil at merely contributing one more screed to the howling cacophony of cultural noise. The prospect of falling into that mode literally makes my skin crawl. It is important to me that my work be generative. I just don’t know how to do that here right now. I may have shot my bolt on useful commentary back in March with Mattias Tannhauser, Man of the Hour.
Put no faith in political saviors; trust not in institutions co-opted and corrupted by the mighty. Take care of your family — blood kin and found. Know your dearest friends — and what, for their good, you are willing to do.