The Past is Prologue


by Roxanne Tellier

… while those of us who DO remember the past, are doomed to watch those who DO NOT, make the same mistakes, over and over again….

One of the few benefits of getting older is having not only a lot of past to remember, but for some, the time to do so in a leisurely fashion, and with a philosophical bent. If we are lucky, and if we look back with clear eyes, we may actually begin to see where we’ve been, and maybe even to see how our past has impacted upon our present.

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time wondering how and why so much of the civilized world, and North America in particular, has been working very hard to turn back time and progress.  

if you grew up in the fifties and sixties, you remember fighting for civil rights, equal rights for women, abortion rights, and so much more. My generation had an enormous impact on society.

So what went wrong? How is it that the despots of today are being allowed to turn back the clock to the ugly world of before?

I guess it could be argued that not every one was happy with the advances we made – that in fact, there were misogynists, xenophobes, bigots and racists that weren’t very happy at all with those advances.

Are those the people hell-bent on returning us to those days?

Children of the fifties and sixties were shaped by the dramatic events of our time. Since we’d never known any other kind of world, it felt relatively normal to us. But it was the most explosive, impactful, and eventful time in modern history.

Bear with me now – cast your mind back.

In the United States, Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy was shepherding a form of terror by government into place from the late 1940s through the 1950s, as ordinary citizens were accused of subversion or treason without any regard for evidence.  

70 years on we have replaced McCarthy with Attorney General William Barr, who has been stealthily ‘investigating the investigators’ of the Mueller Report, despite no evidence of impropriety.

Just a month after the United States tested the first atomic bomb, in July 1945 at Alamogordo, New Mexico, it used that same technology to obliterate Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A lot of us boomers had parents who’d been in WWII, or in Korea, and many of those parents brought back photographic images of the horrors on view in the destruction of occupied Europe and Japan. By 1949, the USSR had exploded it’s own atomic bomb, raising those stakes even higher.  It was only by a series of high level discussions, and the implementation of the  Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) doctrine of military strategy and national security policy that we brought to an end a nuclear escalation that could have  caused the complete annihilation of both the attacker and the defender in a nuclear war.   

Today, many countries are moving towards nuclear armament, including North Korea, where a very miffed Kim Jong Un has been testing his arsenal of approximately 20 to 30 nuclear weapons, now deemed capable of reaching Washington, DC.

Back in the fifties and sixties, we were being flooded with a new wave of science fiction movies and magazines tasked with the job of distracting North Americans, and soon we were looking ahead to driverless, flying cars.

Remember Them! (giant irradiated ants, ) X The Unknown (radiation run amuck in Scotland,) and a host of other films in which radiation and/or atomic fallout caused the ordinary to radically change into mutant monsters?

“Some of these films envisioned a terrestrial holocaust destroying or threatening humanity as a result of nuclear testing or war [World Without End (1956), On the Beach (1959), The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961), Crack in the World (1965)]. Nearly all of the atomic films centered on the strange powers of radiation.

This kind of radiation causes Douglas Fairbanks Jr’s duck to lay uranium eggs in Val Guests’s Mr. Drake’s Duck (1950), makes Mickey Rooney glow in The Atomic Kid, puts Peter Arne seven and a half seconds into the future in Timeslip, creates geniuses or zombies in John Gillings’s The Gamma People (1956), shrinks Grant Williams in Jack Arnold’s The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), grows Glenn Langan in Bert I. Gordon’s The Amazing Colossal Man, revives a murderous native as a walking tree in Dan Milner’s From Hell It Came (1957), makes Japanese gangsters sentient slime in Ishiro Honda’s Bijo to Ekatai Ningen, turns Ron Randell to steel in Allan Dwan’s The Most Dangerous Man Alive and makes Tor Johnson into Coleman Francis’s The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961).” 

(read more here https://www.tru.ca/canfilm/essays/gargantuan_bugs.htm)

While titillating, these films really sought to make the impossible and the unreal – radiation, invisible yet deadly, that could change nor only our very own bodies, but the DNA of our flora and fauna; aliens, and future technology – into something we could accept as normal and even possible. 

These films turned what were real dangers – like radiation and the destruction of war – into the mundane, and therefore something that the average human could, with a little forethought and planning, survive. These movies didn’t challenge what was wrong with the politics of the countries that blithely obliterated millions of living creatures and their habitats, they instead focused our native paranoia and fear of otherness, by dehumanizing people and creatures unlike ourselves.

Or, as Susan Sontag wrote in 1964,  “Ours is indeed an age of extremity. For we live under continual threat of two equally fearful, but seemingly opposed, destinies: unremitting banality and inconceivable terror. It is fantasy, served out in large rations by the popular arts, which allows most people to cope with these twin specters. For one job that fantasy can do is to lift us out of the unbearably humdrum and to distract us from terrors, real or anticipated-by an escape into exotic dangerous situations which have last-minute happy endings. But another one of the things that fantasy can do is to normalize what is psychologically unbearable, thereby inuring us to it. In the one case, fantasy beautifies the world. In the other, it neutralizes it.”  

Sound familiar? You’ve been soaking in entertainment that attempts to prepare you for your future in exactly the same way. The tsunami of zombie films are a representation of immigrants and refugees, displaced through war or climate change, who the fearful imagine as innumerable, insatiable, and unstoppable creatures that are coming for your land and your food.

All of the Sharknado films, Geostorm,  WaterWorld, The Day After Tomorrow ….those films present a world in which climate change is a survival issue. Luckily for you, Hollywood’s obsession with global warming has conscripted top movie stars to show you how these problems can be handled without messing your hair.  

And the Mad Max films, along with so many others that envision life after an apocalyptic event, are all meant to lull you into a false security about an uncertain future. All you’ll need is enough ammo to bully yourself into power, right?

But in truth, the sci fi films of my day, many of which focused on monsters actually CREATED by that fall out and radiation, did little to prepare us for October 1962, and the days of the Cuban Crisis. Even if you’d only seen posters of those films, or heard parents or older siblings talking about them, it was stretching credibility for those of us who were school aged at the time to believe that our little wooden desks would protect us from bombs and nuclear fall out.

And in all of the films – either of the past or today – that are subtly meant to prepare this generation for climate change, floods of displaced people, possible nuclear attacks by foreign entities, or a civil war in which families battle each other .. not a single one of those films points to what will actually be the salvation of those remaining, or the rebuilding of society.

It’s not sexy – real life rarely is – but the only sort of society that will allow mankind to crawl out of whatever viper pit they’ve managed to fall into in a dystopic apocalypse is going to rely on only a few things.

And weapons aren’t high on that list.  After all, if you’ve just lost a large portion of humanity, every soul will be as precious as those fetuses the religious radicals revere.  Only this will be for real, not for show.

What will save humanity will be empathy, respect and regard for every person. Whomever can work compassionately and equitably with others will be a leader.

That leader will need the sense to scavenge not just the physical things needed, but the information held by elders, and in libraries. You’ll need to redevelop agriculture, and, without those tools farmers use today, you’ll have little time to do much else than farm.

You’ll need to reconstruct the calendar, in order to prepare for the seasons and survival, and to be able to predict best times for sowing and harvesting. In time you will also need to figure out how to make soap, windmills, steam engines, and all the myriad necessities we take for granted today.

And then, dear reader, you will look back to today, and call these times the good ol’ days …

The Fall of Man


My apologies to faithful readers who may not agree with me – or who are easily offended. I’m very offended by anyone who can continue to to support Trump at this stage. This blog is NSFW. (Not Safe For Work.) You have been warned.

…….

A few years back, I used to write recaps of reality shows for a showbiz site. One of the hardest to sit through without gagging was Donald Trump’s ‘Celebrity Apprentice.’

Watching the D, E and F list celebs fawn all over the Cheetoh, and pledge fealty and allegiance to Trump’s superior business sense made me sick, and the end of each episode’s visit to the Boardroom, where Trump, with Thing 1 and Thing 2 seated stony faced to his right and left, levied his ‘justice’ upon the celebs, and chose who would be ‘fired,’ was always illogical, and unexpected only by those who don’t know the rules of Reality TV – keep those ratings coming.

“And when you’re a star they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

“Whatever you want,” says another voice, apparently Bush’s.

“Grab them by the pussy,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

trumps-women-guarding-their-pussiesThere really is a delicious irony in the GOP’s recoil and revulsion at Trump’s latest faux pas – oh, sorry what I meant to say was, admission of serial sexual assault.

Certainly …  it could be argued that Trump AND the Republicans have said worse in the last few years, putting forward ideas and regulations that dehumanized and disempowered large groups of their own citizens, including minorities and veterans of war. And of course – women.

But apparently, all of these lawfully appointed representatives have to draw the line somewhere, and withdraw their support from Trump  NOW – just weeks before the election – because he’s revealed a truth they’ve danced around for years; that GOP stands for Grab Our Pussies.

gop-stands-for-grab-our-pussiesAnd it’s not because they’re embarrassed at his vulgarity. No, I think it goes way deeper than that. Trump just put into words what they have been putting into practice and law for at least a decade.

They’ve built a cult around appealing to the very people who regularly unleash legal fury on anyone who doesn’t follow Christianity as strictly as they purport publicly to do. All manner of evil and hypocrisy has been done in the guise of  preserving the women, the children, and the god fearing, from any hint of wrongdoing. America, they contend, has descended into a hellfire pit as horrific as the tales of Sodom and Gomorrah, where ‘fornication, going after strange flesh, sexual immorality, perverted sensuality, homosexuality, lust of every kind, immoral acts and unnatural lust’ has become the rule of the land.

donald-trump-rallyAnd, just as in the Bible, those most viciously condemned and punished are women. The Republican Party has effectively taken one giant step backward for mankind, a giant step forward for a Christian form of Sharia law.

Make no mistake; Republican lawmakers have been ‘grabbing our pussy’ for a very long time. They just disguised it in legal terms, and in vague protective cautions that alluded to, but didn’t quite come right out and say, that women were stupid, emotionally fueled creatures unable to either understand the dangers of sex, or to properly deal with the consequences.

It is paternalism writ large. “The policy or practice on the part of people in positions of authority of restricting the freedom and responsibilities of those subordinate to them in the subordinates’ supposed best interest.”

It has been laughable, watching Republicans attempt to distance themselves from Trump’s chauvinist misogyny.

Remember Mr. Binders Full of Women,  former presidential candidate Mitt Romney? Even he had to draw a line. “Hitting on married women? Condoning assault? Such vile degradations demean our wives and daughters and corrupt America’s face to the world.”

Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, and Mitt’s running mate in 2012, said he was “sickened” by what he’d heard and banned Trump from a political event in Wisconsin. This would be the same man who’s doubled down on women’s health issues, voting for a bill referred to as the “Let Women Die Bill” because it proposed to allow hospitals to refuse a woman emergency abortion care, even if her life was in immediate danger; co-sponsored a federal personhood bill that declared a fertilized egg that hasn’t even resulted in a pregnancy to be the equivalent of a living person, with all of the rights of federal law, which would mean that aspects of in vitro fertilization procedures and some forms of contraception would be criminalized, as would operations to save a woman’s life in the case of dangerous ectopic pregnancies that cannot be carried to term. Oh … AND voted against women receiving equal pay for equal work. That guy.

From Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who has stood by Trump uncritically through numerous controversies: “No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever.”

(A 2014 report by the Crossroads GPS and American Action Network report found that women think the GOP is “intolerant,” “lacking in compassion,” and “stuck in the past.”)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the comments are “repugnant, and unacceptable in any circumstance” and made clear Trump’s brief statement would not suffice.

That would be the same McConnell that legislates against 2.2 million Kentucky women every day, and the women of his country year round, by voting against equal pay legislation, the Violence Against Women Act, and countless other pieces of legislation geared towards protecting the health and security of women. Yeah. That guy.

pence-is-a-bad-manAnd Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate for VP, has, as Governor of Indiana, been a huge proponent of controlling the pussies of Indiana’s women, insisting upon invasive medical procedures, (forced transvaginal ultrasound before having an abortion; state rape by any ones definition)  while ensuring a lack of access to the morning-after pill or abortion options. And as recently as March 2016, he signed a bill that required that aborted fetuses receive what amounts to a funeral.

Pence is not only a heartbeat away from taking over as President should a President Trump decline or be unable to govern,  he accepted the request to be Vice-President when told that the offer would make him “the most powerful vice president in history, in charge of domestic and foreign policy.”  (This was the offer made to John Kasich this past July, duly reported when Kasich made the terms public.)

Everything about Pence’s policies should frighten most people, as his gubernatorial practices have showcased the spectacular power available when a conspiracy theorist, who can be bought at a bargain price, gets into office.

Despite ample proof, for instance, that cigarettes are a health hazard, Pence has repeatedly sold himself (and very cheaply, I might add) to Big Tobacco, allowing Indiana, under his governance, to attain “the highest adult smoking rates of any state in the industrial midwest region and the seventh highest smoking rate in the nation. With among the lowest tobacco taxes of any state, public health experts warn the state is “really in bad shape.” Indeed a 2014 article noted that “17 percent of pregnant women smoke — nearly double the national average — and this has been linked to lower birth weights and higher rates of infant mortality. As a result, it noted, “the state spends $28 million a year on health costs for infants born to mothers who smoke.””

Moreover, he doesn’t believe in climate change, is vehemently against any LGBTQ equality, marital or otherwise, and we already knows how he really feels about women.  And this is the guy who’d be in charge of your domestic policies. How do you like him so far?

trump-logicSo spare me the pearl clutching, Republicans. Spare me the supposed indignation over Bill Clinton‘s CONSENSUAL if stupid fumblings with a starry eyed intern, and your belief that Hillary Clinton was his enabler, who should somehow have been able to control her husband, who was at the time the most powerful man of the land, and thereby disqualifying her from being President herself, two decades later.

That kind of thinking buys into two distinct feminine stereotypes, and you’re asking us to hold both of those ideas as reality;  there’s the poor, innocent young woman, who can’t be expected to control herself around a powerful man’s needs, and the harridan wife who, upon assuming marital status, wears the pants in the family and controls her bumbling husband’s indiscretions.

trump-outreachSee, that’s the thing, Republicans … women are people, not stereotypes. Sure, you can point to a woman or two that seems to embody the qualities you’re decrying, but that’s got as much relevance as saying that you saw a dog with three legs once or twice, so all dogs with four legs are anomalies. Stereotypes are personal observances rushed to judgment, nothing but ” a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.”

The bigger picture, revealed by Trump’s words, and his non-apology disguised as ‘sorry not sorry‘  if anyone was offended, implies that people like Trump and his supporters do not find his comments offensive, but that his words are rather the truth and reality of how men talk behind closed doors when they’re saying what they really mean about women.

It’s saying that those that are offended are somehow lesser beings, incapable of understanding the real trappings of wealth and power. It’s saying that they don’t care about your feelings at all, and that, in fact, they are annoyed that you had the nerve to call them on it. In fact – they blame you for having the nerve to be upset. After all .. it was just a bit of boyish banter, like all men do when they’re out of a woman’s earshot. Mostly.

It’s not an apology when you’ve no intention of either acknowledging your words or actions or changing how you’ll behave in the future. It’s saying that you’ll keep on doing these things in private, hoping you don’t get caught again.

trump-grabs-ivankas-assIt makes his repeated insistence that, “there’s nobody that has more respect for women than I do,” a cause for serious alarm.

It’s not like the leaked tape should have come as any surprise, really. Trump’s obsession with women, including his own daughter, is well known.  He’s treated women as disposable items throughout his entire life, taking what he wants from them, and then discarding them for younger models. He’s had hissy fit temper and twitter tantrums that called women ‘pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ and worse, describing reporter and debate moderator Megyn Kelly as having ‘blood coming out of her .. whatever’  in what was simultaneously the most prudish and repulsive manner possible. He’s held all women, no matter what their place in life or relationship to him, accountable to a high standard of … well, let’s face it .. fuckability. And when those women fall below his standards, they are summarily dismissed, like so much trash.

megyn-kelly-before-and-afterHis entire campaign has been built around a fairytale of his own making, insisting that America is “in such a desperate place that a wild card like Trump is worth the risk. Trump fans talk like they live in a western town, where the banditos are so out of control, only a maverick gunslinger can save them. A man with no tax code, the fastest tweet in the West, covered in man tan. ”

“But I give Donald Trump’s supporters a little credit. They know he’s an asshole. It is hard to hide. They just don’t care. Yes, he’s dangerous. And thin-skinned. And unhinged. And clinically insane. And an egomaniac, a compulsive liar, a charlatan, with the impulse control of a grease fire.  But we have to take the risk because America is hanging by a thread! How do we know it is? Donald Trump told me!”  (Bill Maher, Real Time)

Trump has proclaimed that America is a hell hole, in dire straits, where the ‘generals have been reduced to rubble,’ the American Dream is dead, the infrastructure is going to hell, aw hell, everything and everybody is living in hell! Yes, YOU, each of you!

trumpzombieapocalypseTrump’s vision of America resembles a zombie apocalypse, where the good townsfolk do battle against the bad zombies, killing with impunity, taking what they want or need when they find it, and yes, treating women as disposable chattel that the most powerful can have without any niceties.

When in fact,  America’s in pretty good shape. Violent crime is at it’s lowest since 1970; fewer Americans are without health insurance; cancer, alcohol abuse, and teen pregnancies are down; employment is up, as is the stock market. The ‘hated’ President Obama has an approval rating of 55%.

But a world where things are actually pretty good – that doesn’t work for a guy like Trump. Trump needs to live in a self-created chaos, where he can rule as the absolute final word on all within his sight.

Or his grasp. Of a pussy.

The second presidential debate  between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will take place at 9 pm Eastern tonight, and be conducted in a “town hall” format featuring questions from undecided voters.

donald-trump-enragedAs the denunciations from his former supporters, and calls for him to quit the race continue to stream in, I’m fairly certain we can expect more of that doubling down that Trump does so well.

His rage toward those condemning his words – turncoats, in his view; the ‘gotcha’ media;’ women in general for making such a big deal about his words and actions, and Hillary in particular for being too smart for her own good, will be barely contained.

He’ll be defensive, only just containing his insecurity, and will take every opportunity to turn any detrimental comment into an attack on Clinton and the Democrats.

He’ll lie, bold facedly, and deny things he’s on record as saying.

And still there will be those supporters who will stand by him, essentially handing him the possibility of running America as his own little fiefdom.

And sadly … many of those will be women.