Handbasket #2 - Roo update and a convenient one-stop analysis of the apocalypse

On Friday night, after her night and day of being sick and getting stressed out by being at the vet’s, the anti-vomiting med evidently gave her some relief, and Roo finally crashed, and crashed hard. She wanted to go up on the bed, and I hefted her up. Usually she takes the three steps to lie down at the head of the bed, where it fits in a corner, but this time she didn’t even have the energy to take a single step. She collapsed right at the edge and went to sleep with a hind leg dangling off the bed. 

She slept through the night. My hope was that a little rest would perk her back up, but, though she needed it, it didn’t get rid of whatever it is she has. In the morning she didn’t want to go any farther afield than necessary. She wanted to get back to her bed. Later she was up for more of a walk and even trotted a few times and poked her nose into a few tree trunks and holes suspected of harboring mouses. The vet told me to let her exercise, but not to let her get carried away. There’s a bend we always reach where Roo always like to turn and check with me about whether to proceed to a known rabbit encampment. She gave me the usual inquiring look, but was relieved when I told her not today. 

She continued to rest throughout the day. I was trying to complete the Wright brothers book I’m working on, but this was impossible because I was too distracted by the stream of outrages being committed in the name of the American people, upon themselves and the rest of the world. To me, what is going on is not at all a mystery. It’s completely clear. Trump and his closest adviser, Steve Bannon have both said outright that they want to destroy the United States. Bannon likened himself to Lenin in his desire to tear it down. He has the corner office next to Trump’s in the West Wing, and is a professed white supremacist. 

Every little thing Trump does mimics what the Nazis did in the years leading up to and then as soon as they got Hitler elevated to Chancellor of Germany in 1933. The only difference is the carefully calibrated simultaneous program to advance Russian interests. That’s the easy part. All Russia wants is destabilization of any of the forces opposed to his land grab in Ukraine and the coming ones in the Baltics nad eastern Europe. The former south Asian Soviet satellite states he already has in control by sponsoring dictators. The forces opposing Putin were (and, as he knows full well, might again be) the Americans, if and once Trump is removed, depending on whether other traitors, like the Dominionist Mike Pence (who believes anything, including collusion with foreign powers, is acceptable to advance his idea of Christianity), are permitted to succeed him. Putin has limitless admiration for Josef Stalin and won’t ever feel complete without getting the former Soviet Union reassembled. Authoritarian without the downside of Communism. So NATO could get in his way if he starts coloring in the borders of Poland or Hungary or Czech Republic, Slovenia, Albania or Bulgaria, even Macedonia and any inconvenient parts of Greece, so he’s having Trump throw a spanner in those works, too. And Bannon, master propagandist, knows how to create chaos domestically to distract from all this. There will be violence. It is bubbling up everywhere. Not too far from here, in north Oklahoma, someone just drove out to a little farmhouse belonging to an acquaintance of mine, a 78-year-old woman with ovarian cancer who is trying to repair her own roof with Habitat for Humanity supplies and who posts mild stuff on a liberal blog and gunned her dog down. SHOT HER DOG. Yesterday I tried to get in touch with the only two mosques within 100 miles of here to offer any kind of support I could, stand out front with a rifle, if need be. Too late. Both had been vandalized recently, after 30 peaceful years in their communities, and neither has a working phone any more. They are in hiding.

As far as the Nazi playbook goes, the first-week blizzard of executive orders tracked the course of early Nazi decrees, too. In their intention and overall effect, they are nearly identical, with one notable difference. And, because I happen to have been immersed in that history, I’m willing to bet my camper that the difference won’t last long. It is the abuse of a spectacularly threatening event to seize more power. Whether Trump and Bannon blow something up themselves or get the Geiger counters clicking by planting a touch of Strontium-90 in New York, or claim they’ve intercepted a suitcase nuke on the southern border, or allow a terrorist group to do it for them, doesn’t matter. If ISIL doesn’t accommodate them rapidly enough they'll just do it themselves. They would probably prefer to, in order to control all the theater of it.

Here’s why. Hitler was appointed—through a democratic process, —Chancellor of Germany in January of 1933. His power, however, was tenuous. Elections for the Reichstag were coming up only a month later, and, times being as turbulent as they were, it was looking like the Communists were going to dislodge the Nazis. The two parties had been blood enemies, killing each other in running street battles and assassinations for years. The Nazis were not going to risk letting the electorate decide the question. Their solution was simple. A few days before the election, they dispatched a few of their more loyal boys, the ones who knew how to keep there mouths shut, to set fire to the Reichstag. It’s huge building; they limited the arson to the plenary chamber, the main legislative room, the opposite number of our House of Representatives.

On the freezing night of February 27, 1933, the last people to leave the Reichstag were two Communist Reichstag deputies. They were walking slowly so as not to discommode their secretary, who had bad vascular trouble in her legs. The Nazis left that out of their description of the "getaway." 

Half an hour later, a passerby noticed the flames in the Reichstag through a window and found a patrolman. The two of them saw a figure inside. The copper took a potshot at him with his revolver, but missed. This person, however, soon surrendered peacefully.

The Reichstag is a big building. I’ve sat under one of its porticos on another freezing cold night February night, on a date with a tall Goth in her tiny pink Mini Cooper. It was when the Berlin Wall was coming down. We’d been there to participate in its destruction, together on top of the graffitied concrete barriers, whacking at it it with hammers and tire irons. Afterward, she brought me to the Reichstag. My interest in the place was to her quaintly American but she was, among other things, patient. 

The building is wide and imposing and not attractive—more the sort of thing a bunch of stolid German bankers and the politicians they carried around in their back pockets would have thought appropriate in the 19th Century.  The plenary chamber that the arsonists concentrated on was at its core, a glass dome high above it. It was a large space, filled with oak benches, chairs and desks. On the windows were drapes as thick as carpets. Göring, who, like Trump fancied himself a man of taste, hated the place. He had often joked about burning it down in order to replace it with something prettier. Much like the way Trump has joked about shooting people and starting wars and bombing populations.

At the time of the fire, and then again and again over the decades, investigations were conducted to find out who set the fire. It was essential to the Nazis that they escape blame. After all, if the reason for their seizure of total power turned out to have been not the work of an enemy but of their own making, their entire foundation would have been illegitimate. 

The culprit the policeman had take a shot at and then caught was a young Dutchman named Marinus van der Lubbe. He insisted that he had acted alone, but it simply wasn’t possible and none of the investigators on the scene believed him for a second. Too many fires had been set in too many places and the oak was nearly impossible to light. Each of the fires had to be tended and encouraged. Even the curtains were nearly impossible to set ablaze, made of thick and resistant materials. No investigator, including the Berlin experts dispatched to the crime scene that very night, ever considered the remotest possibility that the one Dutch kid could have done it alone.

Soon after the discovery of the fire and while the Reichstag was still burning, Herr Chancellor Hitler, in a grey suit and cream trench coat, arrived in a Grosser Mercedes limousine. Hermann Göring was already there. As the president of the Reichstag, his residence was connected to it by the tunnel the arsonists used to enter. Hitler and Göring proceeded to a balcony overlooking the plenary chamber. 

When it came to being livid, Hitler, as anyone who has seen film of him knows, had no equal in the world. Göring’s specialty was the effete smugness, evident later in the way he festooned himself in eggshell white or powder blue double breasted uniforms draped with cords of gold braid, topped off wth peaked caps doused in scrambled eggs and insignia—garish flamboyance much like Trump’s—but on the night of the Reichstag fire, the Nazi brass was still going around in civilian suits. The soot and ash greyed Hitler’s trench coat. Imagine the value any American neo-Nazi would place upon such a relic.

Hitler launched a tirade in which he conclusively declared the fire to be the handiwork of the Communists. Nothing but the sternest measures taken immediately would be acceptable. No more namby-pamby games of footsie: Hitler demanded that the Communists be hung that night. To Göring fell the pleasurable duty of issuing the orders. He named the two Communist deputies who had been the last to leave the building as the fiends directly responsible and ordered dragnets. Later, the Nazis and their apologists would insist that it was mere coincidence that lists had been prepared in advance; a coincidence that swept 5000 people up before dawn. Most would die under the guillotine or hang from prison gallows or be shot and bulldozed into mass graves in death camps. Another 100,000 followed them in the coming year.

Forgive a brief digression: 12 years after the Reichstag fire, my father, a 28-year-old Turk newly arrived in New York at the end of World War Two, would meet the daughter of one of the two deputies accused by Hitler and Göring that night and marry her. She was a Soviet spy. This element of family history, kept secret by my father and now known to me only in the fragments of files the FBI and CIA have been willing to declassify, is only one of the reasons for my interest in the fire. The other is a fascination with totalitarian regimes. How is it possible that a Stalin or a Hitler or a Mao is able to impose such hell? Even after studying it for years, I still don’t understand how populations go along with it, but I do recognize the steps, in the cases of Hitler and Stalin, taken to achieve it. That’s why, to me, the steps Trump is taking so clearly parallel those of the early Nazis, and why I was spending Saturday, while Roo was sick and resting, too distracted by the power grabs coming from the Trump White House to transfer my thinking to other history and get any work on the Wright brothers done at all.

The thing about Hitler’s demand that the Communists be rounded up on the night of the Reichstag fire was that he didn’t really have the authority to carry it out. He would need more than the Gestapo. He would require a system in which no one could question his diktat. In which no one could present a challenge at the ballot box, for example. Citing the preservation of Germany itself, Hitler made the case that nothing but absolute control could restore law and order. All power had to be handed to him.

And, overnight, the men responsible for governing Germany went along with it, and though the complete legislation that elevated Hitler from Chancellor to Führer took a few months to be enacted, really all it took was the night of February 27-28, 1933 to transform Hitler from duly seated head of state, subject to greater democratic powers, to dictator—to der Führer—for life, a dictatorship that wouldn’t end until he placed a .25 caliber bullet into his own brain as Russian troops entered the Berlin bombscape in 1945. 

So, yesterday, Saturday, I tried to control myself thinking about all this. I was already worrying about something the vet had told me, that who knows, Roo could even have an ulcer. If she did, was that because I was driving her crazy? She’s nervous enough to begin with… does the extent of my loathing for Trump and the plans being hatched by his pronouncedly Nazi-style (and outright Nazi, in the case of his closest adviser, Bannon) henchmen stress Roo out? She rested while I seethed.

Fortunately, I had to stop absorbing every particle of news that came off Trump like radiation off a dirty nuke because of another Roo issue. After the one walk she had had, she was too exhausted to consider going outside again. It was already late afternoon. Once darkness set in, she would rule it out entirely. It’s bad enough that she insists on holding it in for 14 hours every night, but now, being sick with whatever she has, I wanted her to go.

I put to her but she just looked at me like I was a some kind of gnat bothering her. She was, however, hungry. I microwaved some ground meat and mixed it up with pumpkin puree. Once it cooled off and I placed it in front of her, it shocked her. She wouldn’t even consent to sniffing it. She was going to hold out for something better. Yesterday’s dose of pumpkin was one thing, but this was taking things too far. Now I was insulting her, demonstrating a complete lack of sympathy for a poor little suffering bear. She stared at me relentlessly with her ears up high enough to let me know that this was serious.

Eventually I gave in and told her, fine, but we would have to go to the store. She agreed to get in the car, but waved off my attempt to get her to fly a quick bathroom sortie while we were out. She had made her mind up to increase her endurance from the usual 14 hours to 20, 22 maybe. Maybe longer. Only Roo knows. That it bothered me was my problem. And she probably thinks that in any event, if it becomes a problem overnight, all she would have to do is rouse the doorman, so what’s the problem.

On the way back from the store, I hatched a plan. I would trick her. True, I would have to deliver some fake news. It could put a dent in my reputation as a solid rabbit-spotter and cost me some political capital, but there was no choice. There’s a spot where once, long ago, Roo spied with her little eye a rabbit. She maintains a detailed mental catalogue of every rabbit she has ever seen and its geographical coordinates and identifying features and so on. I would hack her own database and turn it against her. And so, when we approached that spot, I pulled the car off the road (this is in the camp, not where there’s traffic), and said, “ROOKI, LOOK! A RABBIT!”

Those words could wake Roo up from anesthesia. I opened the door and she leaped out. 

Figuring that she would sniff around for a minute, realize there was no rabbit, and, hopefully, pee, I left the engine running. The problem was that there was a rabbit running around out there. Roo took off after him like the mad dog she usually is. 

This led to something of a chase. Roo chasing the rabbit, me chasing Roo. This was a little too close to the road. She has never climbed the embankment it would take to get to it, but in her state—sick, weakened, her delirium and hallucinations compounded with rabbit fever—you never knew. 

When she gave up, she was so delighted with herself that she walked back to the car right next to me. She looked up once in a while to make sure I appreciated the epic quality of her pursuit of the rabbit. I did.

I nuked the chicken and didn’t mix it with too much of the pumpkin. I had also bought a little beef broth to sauce things up a bit. She didn’t want me to think she thought too much of it, so she pretended it wasn’t in front of her for five minutes before getting to it. But, finally, she ate. And then she slept. She was out all night.

I, of course, returned to obsessing over the unfolding course of Trump’s treachery. The outrage of a Muslim ban had hit earlier in the day. That had had me riled up enough to call around to mosques within 100 miles to offer any support I could. The only two nearby had been vandalized three months ago and now, after 30 years in peaceful operation, had both disconnected their phones. A long shot from the Thanks, Obama bullshit. This is real.

And then, later in the evening—I lost track of time—came conclusive proof of Trump’s being under Russian discipline: he issued an executive order in which he did something so damaging to American national security that it was stunning, inexplicable for any reason other than as a concrete step to weaken the United States. He ordered the removal of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence from the National Security Council. Now, the NSC is where the top level decisions about, well, national security, are developed. In previous administrations, the DNI and CJCoS were the two members listed in importance only below the President. And while the removal of these two—of intelligence and the military from discussions of ISIS, border security, international hacking, EVERYTHING—would only benefit either someone wishing to be shielded from people who could uncover him or the adversary for whom he is working, that wasn’t the end of it. Trump had also elevated Bannon, leader of his Nazi braintrust and the former chairman of the propaganda site Breitbart, to permanent member of the National Security Council. Unheard of. No other president has been allowed to place political hacks on the highest council of the United States government. And his goddamned attorney, Michael Cohen, demonstrated to have been lying about secret meetings with the Russians during the campaign, and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, a thief eluding creditors now to the tune of more than $9 billion and who was as recently as last month structuring foreign financing.

It’s clear that what is going on is a total usurpation of the White House in the combined interests of kleptocracy and treason. There is simply no other explanation. 

But the the worst part—and this is the part at the core of the cognitive dissonance and the hopelessness this mess causing—is that Trump supporters now say that their support for him will not diminish even if he is proved to be a traitor.

Again: Trump supporters are saying that his being a traitor is okay with them. I’ve been in touch with one of the ones who has threatened to shoot me. He calls himself a Patriot and Constitutionalist, and like all the others who have been braying like asses about that for the past eight years, he is neither. How can a Patriot transfer his patriotism to one person who then transfers the country the patriot claims to love to another? And Constitutionalist? What bullshit. Let’s see: not even taken in order, the emoluments clause—violate it, he’s one of ours, fine with them. Religious test? Fuck ‘em. They’re Muslims. Don’t count. Other laws? No nepotism? Nah, no problem, not for Donny. Kushner’s going to bring peace to the Middle East, after all.

But the news kept coming. The next bolt was that the general who had been the head of the KGB was murdered and found stuffed in the back of a car near the Kremlin. Around the same time, Russian secret police burst into a meeting of the top echelon of the FSB—the current name for the KGB—and, at gunpoint, placed a sack over the head of one of its chiefs and dragged him off to what you may be sure is a highly unpleasant klink. He and another security official were charged with treason. For what? The Golden Shower Trump dossier. The one they're saying is nonsense, but yet is now one that someone in the know leaked. This would be the same as putting a sack over the head of the Director of the CIA and dragging him off. Not trivial.

The Golden Shower file was compiled not by some interns at the DNC, as Breitbart and Infowars would have you believe, but by the officer who was the chief of the Russia desk for MI-6, the British foreign intelligence service. Not some hack. A highly reputable man who has been working with and trusted by the Americans for an entire career.

And now, moles inside Russian intelligence, espionage assets of incalculable value to the United States, had been arrested and hauled off. Someone, a week into the Trump administration’s access to the information about who the mole was who had informed on what the Russians knew about Trump, had tipped the Russians off. You can be sure that one hell of a lot of people in the CIA are even more pissed about that than they were at Trump's incoherent masturbatory speech in front of the memorial wall at their headquarters in Langley.

*                    *                    *

Tonight, Rooki seems to be resting comfortably. She was still weak and tired all day, and at one point it started to look like the reflux attacks were coming back, but it wasn’t too bad and it passed after an hour or so. 

And then, around 4:30, she perked up and started giving me a look. I’m pretty sure it said, “Wait a sec. Remember that rabbit? The one you told me about yesterday?”

I looked back at her and said, “Yes. I remember.”

And back she went, and ran around like the mad dog she is, and so far hasn’t been sick again, at all tonight.

We find out more from the vet, and on every front, tomorrow. Let’s hope for some good news.