Connotations as to what being a “news junkie” is have changed in the last few years. To me, it used to mean there was a drive to stay informed and get ahead of stories. Now, I fear it’s the territory of rubberneckers watching a constant train wreck that never stops and civic sadists waiting for their next embarrassing, shameful pain fix. Some of them are scared to death, I suppose, trying desperately to find information that doesn’t make them regret bringing children into the world or not immigrating to Australia in their mid-twenties.
A lot has been made of a “return to normalcy” and if that’s even something that’s possible to do. What’s your definition of normal? When was that? Was it when you didn’t feel like you had to watch the news coverage of purportedly mad men with their fingers on the throat of existence? It was when it was easily ignored. Whether it was Obama’s drone strike program or massive numbers of deportations that surpassed levels during the Bush administration, or the latter administration’s illegal renditions program and massive expansion of domestic surveillance, most regular folks might think Trump’s regime ushered in this authoritative, bumbling totalitarianism. There’s nothing new about it. They’re just doubling down on it.
Case in point is the “sudden” firing of Rex Tillerson today, coming shortly after Tillerson stated a chemical weapons attack in Britain targeting a defected Russian spy obviously originated from Russia. CIA Director Mike Pompeo, a resolute neo-con Trump stooge, is now the Secretary of State and we’ve appointed Gina Haspel as the new head of the CIA. Gina?! That’s a lady’s name! That’s social progress, right? The first woman to ever head the agency? Take that, SJWs!!!
Let’s hear it for Gina! Presently being pursued for arrest by human rights groups in Germany for her role in torturing prisoners at clandestine black site prisons during the height of the initial War on Terror, Haspel is kind of a gamble move. The job entails a lot of traveling, and that’s tough to do if NGOs are lobbying for prosecutors to issue warrants for your arrest.
Haspel was working as deputy director before the promotion and seemed like an obvious choice. For her role in waterboarding (and worse) prisoners who ended up innocent or remain never charged with a crime, she’s been decorated with some of the highest honors the State has to offer, including the George H.W. Bush award for excellence in counterterrorism and the Presidential Rank Award.
For all the Red Hat Libertarian bullshit I heard before the election about Trump being an outsider that would bring back the right from the humiliating Bush years, which anyone not yet nodding off on painkillers could probably tell you was complete nonsense, he’s following that dreaded neo-conservative Christian Dominionist playbook pretty closely. Bringing back tons of major players. Tillerson, former oil man, had outlived his usefulness after the Rosneft-Exxon arctic deal fell through because there’s no feasible political way to ease sanctions on Russia. You can ignore new ones the rest of the government signed off on, though.
The only way to appeal to the rubes of this country is with pop culture allegory so imagine this: remember those scrappy little kids on Stranger Things and how one of them was held against her will and tortured by shady, unaccountable members of a shadowy government agency? Gina Haspel got to do that to hundreds, if not thousands of people, many of which did nothing to deserve it and had no legal recourse to fight back. She was rewarded, decorated, and is now serving at the top post of the nation’s intelligence agency, even while allied countries are deliberating filing formal legal charges over despicable and clandestine actions she took over the course of two different presidential administrations from both political parties.
So what was normal, again?