Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award

So, this is what America didn’t want?

Yeah, Americans. Take a look at what we’ve done. This shit show has only started. While most of us argue about the value of safety pins and the Hamilton story, there’s a real set of kickers on the table. I’ll try to summarize for those too exhausted to keep count:

We have a president-elect who lost the popular vote, at today’s * count, by around 1.7 million votes, a number sure to rise with ballots still being counted.

It’s now clear there was at least one conversation between the Trump team and the Russian government before the election, something the Russian government has admitted while Trump denies.

Since at least August, there has been evidence of minority voter purges in key battleground states (including Michigan), made public by Rolling Stone magazine, investigated by journalist Greg Palast, who continues the story of a dubious system called Crosscheck.

Since Trump’s election, we’ve seen celebrations by Nazis, their rhetoric normalized by CNN, all in the wake of a Nazi sympathizer’s hire as Trump’s strategist. CNN apologized for their anti-Semitic chyron but not for the following Nov. 15th homepage—Is bombing the s*** out of ISIS a strategy?—a rhetorical question which predicts even greater idiocy in our national discourse:


The president-elect has now changed positions on several of his most important campaign promises, including his brain-on-fire pledge to lock up Clinton. As expected, besides making money and inflating his grandiosity, he has no principles or positions, as throughout his campaign he consistently claimed one thing only to contradict it, lying right in reporters’ faces. Without any irony or self-awareness, he has reportedly undressed big media execs in an off-the-record meeting, a pathological liar accusing everyone in the room of dishonesty.

In desperate acts, people on social media are sending around slacktivism requests, some of them bogus, others misplaced.

As that buzz crackled, Trump claimed that the President could not have a conflict of interest. This after he and his daughter met with Shinzō Abe, after he met with Indian business partners, after foreign diplomats have claimed they’ll curry his favor by staying in his DC hotels.

Baltic States, are you listening? You want protection from Russia? Hand over a few high rise hotels to Trump. I’m sure the city of Vilnius could blackmail the Radisson Blu Lietuva Hotel to hand their tower over.

Curiously, he ran on a platform of idiot-wind populism, on racism and psychopathy, demonizing and demeaning everyone in his path, but it turns out a general can talk him out of using torture during a straightforward meeting. It turns out he’s against wind farms  when they interfere with his golf course but not when they guarantee “crystal clear water.”

We’re learning nothing about him we didn’t already know. He’s an unstable, constantly shifting point, a compulsive liar, a narcissist, a concoctor of realities. Most Americans didn’t want him. But now the entire world has him, a man who’ll “disavow” American Nazis while hanging on to a chief strategist who had this to say about the difference between skinheads and American Nazis…er…the Alt-Right:

There are many things that separate the alternative right from old-school racist skinheads (to whom they are often idiotically compared), but one thing stands out above all else: intelligence. Skinheads, by and large, are low-information, low-IQ thugs driven by the thrill of violence and tribal hatred. The alternative right are a much smarter group of people — which perhaps suggests why the Left hates them so much. They’re dangerously bright.

Good thing this isn’t what most of us wanted.

*Update: On November 23rd, the margin had surpassed 2 million votes.

The election numbers

Donald Trump (this is the first time I have ever written his name in a public forum, besides using it as a tag) performed in the following way:

He won 9/10 of Republican voters.

He won more than 4/5 of Evangelical Christians. (These are people who (claim to) believe that you should treat your neighbor as you would like to be treated, that selflessness is an expression of Godliness and that the meek shall inherit the earth.)

Donald also took 37% of “young voters”.

The one that has me deeply confused is not in the video linked below. It’s women voters:

Donald earned 42% of the women’s vote.  To quote from the CBS article I’m using for these data (emphasis mine): “Trump beat Clinton by 53 percent to 41 percent among men while Clinton won among women by 54 percent to 42 percent. Four years ago, President Obama won 45 percent of men’s votes and Mitt Romney won 44 percent of women’s votes.”

So…that 2% difference? It’s baffling but sobering.

PTSD sufferers against fascism

There was never a moment in my lifetime that so clearly delineated the right and wrong sides of history. Shit’s real, America. We’re either going to choose a raving mad lunatic who lacks even the most basic shred of empathy, or we’ll face this threat down and pick up the pieces afterwards.

Those pieces are going to be vile. It’s frightening to know I share streets, highways and public spaces with people steadfastly on the wrong side of history. It’s terrifying to imagine an abusive, unhinged narcissist should be put in power by the will of my countrymen and women who’ll remain upset if they don’t get what they want.

Honestly, what do you want? Today “god” took to demeaning the mentally ill, soldiers suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress.

PTSD is not a joke. Sufferers are at risk of an entire spectrum of self-harm. Their loved ones suffer and are often helpless, confused about what to do. The sufferer, frequently living in a waking nightmare, so often wonders what use they are to anyone. Worse, they might perceive, in perverse delusions of empathy, that the world is better off without them.

Not every PTSD patient survived war. Some may have witnessed a house fire, experienced a car accident or gotten mugged or raped. While our culture usually responds (at least in a common narrative) with care to veterans afflicted with the condition, those sufferers who did not serve or experience war can feel estranged. What’s wrong with you, the inner voice says, if you’re flipping out? You didn’t go to war. Snap out of it.

Studies have actually shown that “violent homes have the same effect on brains of children as combat has on soldiers”. The effects of complex trauma are nothing to sneeze at. Abused children grow up to be adults who mistrust the world, struggle to form relationships, tussle to know the difference between real and imagined emotions. This study breaks the ground to reveal the similarity between the experience of war and child abuse.

Among the worst experiences for a traumatized person is to find oneself in a society or social network that worships the abusive narcissist and dismisses or even refuses to accept transgressions. I know people (many of whom, staunchly middle class, will in November vote for a narcissist) who would rather pour an abuser drinks and chat with him than face the abuser’s true identity, even when it’s out in the open. It takes a society, a system, to keep abuse going, and the easiest thing to do when you find yourself an accessory is to pretend the abuse never happened in the first place. You claim you can’t understand why the victim shouldn’t sit at the dinner table where his abuser receives free drinks and the freedom to spew what nonsense comes to his head.

I know I’m not alone. Apparently, psychiatrists and social workers have noticed a spike in people anxious about the election. This is hardly strange to me. Yes, our fellow citizens want a man who’ll publicly ridicule, demean and bully, who’ll deny the thing he said or did just a moment ago. It’s triggering and frightening. Where should a traumatized person turn when an entire nation empowers a narcissist to abuse at will, to do so on an international stage, the American military at his disposal? How should a PTSD sufferer rationalize that this man now represents the sufferer politically? It’s a nightmare.

I don’t believe he’s gambling that most of America actually considers PTSD sufferers weak. This man has proven a poor player of political chess. He gains votes not by tactic but by hook and emotional trap. His comments today are exactly the kind of calculated barb a narcissist uses to pry into people and leave some afraid, confused, disoriented, while others—the ones who need their strength reinforced—feel empowered, superior, true but now dependent on the narcissist for the feeling.

Ironically, the latter group is at greater risk. We’ll know in only a short time just how many Americans are actually seduced enough to choose this kind of madness. In case you’re confused, let me present this simple warning:

Don’t expect the narcissist to love you back, America. He’ll use you until you’re extinguished, reeling and unable to tell your memories from your fantasies. Should you be bruised, he’ll say you hit yourself, then accuse you of lies in the next breath, speak your bruises away as if they were yesterday’s gossip. You won’t have known that kind of betrayal before, and when he’s out of your life, you won’t recognize what’s left of you, what pieces remain to pick up.

Should this madman get in, our constitution will face its greatest test. If the system fails to be stronger than its citizens—if it fails to remove him before a pivotal moment from which we won’t return—his biography will prove the same as the ones of his narcissist predecessors.

He’ll raze what fields he can, hoard what he thinks he can protect, delude himself for a while with victories and grandeur but eventually find himself alone. Depending on the exact nature and placement of his transgressions, he’ll either find some place to hide and whither away, some tribunal will pack him into a cell, or he’ll descend to the darkest part of his basement. History shows they all have a place where they keep a loaded pistol wrapped in a soft white cloth.