Minutes to midnight

Our pastor was talking to us the other day and reminded me of a conversation she and I had a few months back. In it, we were bemoaning the perilousness of Donald J. Trump as president. She said she has a friend who checks her phone each morning as soon as she wakes up, not for text messages or emails, but to see if Trump has “dropped the bomb on someone.”

I told her I do the same thing, which my wife confirmed. Each day under Trump is a new day. Each day brings us closer to a global catastrophe – the literal outbreak of World War III, all thanks to the “election” of one man. If our pastor recognizes the danger we are in, it confirms one thing: that all the faith in heaven and on earth might not prevent the worst from taking place.

We are in an awful period in American history, and I’d say there is probably more than a 30-percent chance of it being the last period. We have elected – with the aid of Russia – a despot. His every word and action is that of a dictator. Experts have posted warning after warning about Trump, comparing him (favorably) to some of the worst tyrants in history. I don’t have to go into the comparisons here, but each and every parallel is terrifying – Trump is well on his way to becoming another Hitler. The firing of FBI Director James Comey is just another step down that road. Once Trump installs one of his boot-licking toadies in Comey’s place, you can reasonably expect the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election to come to a screeching halt. There’s nothing Trump hates worse than even the suggestion of Russian interference; to expect a new director not to shut down the inquiry would be the worst form of sticking one’s head in the sand.

Yet … that is exactly what Trump supporters (Trumpeters) do so well. They stick their head in the sand and put out a sign reading, “AT LEAST IT AIN’T HILLARY.” If you can hold your nose long enough to read comments posted to Facebook, you’ll see the following phrases: “Get over it, snowflake;” “libtard;” “we won, move on,” and “butt hurt,” phrases that have come to substitute the hard/alt-right’s attempts at political discourse in a post-fact environment. I have no idea how the alt-right (which, you will notice, has now replaced the post-9/11 term, “neocon”) came up with the term “snowflake,” but it is irritating because it is meaningless, a ridiculous insult deployed by morons parroting what they’ve heard on FOX News.

And here lies the crux of the entire matter: FOX started setting us up for Trump – and his base – not long after 9/11. It became combative and aggressive in its single-minded pursuit of the “conservative” point of view. It trumpeted “fair and balanced” news coverage when, in fact, it was anything but. It demonized Democrats and whitewashed George W. Bush. It jumped on its own bandwagon, tooted its own horn, and inundated viewers with so much audio-visual stimulation (LOUD MUSIC! FLASHY GRAPHICS! FLASHY HEADLINES! NEEDLESS SOUND EFFECTS!) that watching it was to submit to brainwashing. You couldn’t come away from FOX without thinking exactly what the network wanted you to think. The message was the content and the content was the message – skepticism or opposing points of view not allowed.

It also introduced us to the era of the pugnaciously opinionated talking head – Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage and Ann Coulter chief among them. Most of these types have either self-destructed or long since been exposed as partisan pinheads, and carry nowhere near the amount of cultural weight that they did, say, 15 years ago, but the damage has been done. They have blurred the line between entertainment and news – fact and opinion – to the point that now, legitimate information is deemed “fake news” – by the so-called, acting “president” of the United States! FOX has spent so many years libeling, belittling, condemning and otherwise insulting Bill and Hillary Clinton that its watchers (followers) now equate the Clintons with Satan – and that is no exaggeration. Trump’s cultish followers are perfectly fine with their lying, thin-skinned, ignorant, oafish and quite possibly traitorous leader, as “long as it ain’t Hillary!” FOX News will tolerate, promote, defend, promulgate, and heap praise upon any lie, dirty deed, nefarious action, devious statement or incompetent foul-up, as long as it’s issued by one of its own. It will place upon a pedestal literally anyone whose name doesn’t happen to be Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. By anyone, I include Donald Trump, the liar, the con artist, the buffoon, and the Most Dangerous Idiot in the World.

Each year, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists resets the Doomsday Clock, a symbol representing how close the planet has come over the previous 12 months to a manmade global catastrophe. This could take many forms – economic, biologic, environmental, or, of course, nuclear. After spending the last few years with the minute hand set at 3 minutes before the hour – pants-shittingly close! – scientists this year reset the clock to 2.5 minutes. Their reason? THE ELECTION OF DONALD TRUMP. It will be interesting – to say the least – to see where they set the minute hand next year. If we get to see it.