Thursday
Sep192019

Crazy Shit at the Border

The imagination of children is limitless. 

For example, recently the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History inquired about obtaining some charming drawings that kids had made showing their lives. 

And just what were the carefree doodles that these adorable scamps created? Oh, they were just drawings made by migrant children “recently released from immigration custody depicting themselves in cages.”

Wait… in cages?

Um, yeah — in motherfucking cages.

Clearly, the Smithsonian curators recognize history in the making. And they already see that Trump’s reign of xenophobic authoritarianism is something that future generations are going to have trouble believing. Hence, the need to preserve first-hand accounts of this nightmare.

That is, unless you somehow believe that the Americans of twenty or thirty years from now will read about our current era, look at the drawings of kids in cages, and think, “What a wise leader Trump was. Thank goodness he saved our nation from the invading horde.”

I’m more certain that they will speak only of Trump in hushed tones reserved for shameful stories of the past, or pull his name out when they need a scary story to tell their children around the campfire.

In any case, the situation at the border is still a humanitarian crisis. But this hasn’t stopped the U.S. Supreme Court from saying, “Hey, let’s allow chief executive lunatic to be even more out of control and psychopathic. Why not?”

You see, recently the court sided with the administration and issued a ruling that effectively locked nearly all Central American migrants out of the asylum process. 

The whole process was so shady that our friend Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented. She implied that the Supreme Court is doing “extraordinary” favors for Trump. 

What Justice Sotomayor doesn’t understand is that it’s simply inefficient to have three branches of government, when you can have just one.

In any case, the court’s decision follows another recent travesty in the ongoing shit show unfolding on the border. I’m talking, of course, about the administration’s decision to “divert $3.6 billion in military construction funding to build the president’s border wall.”

Yes, some Republicans were briefly upset that this will strip money from their home states, and in some cases, possibly weaken the military that they supposedly hold in such high esteem. But ultimately, this band of hollow cowards fell into line.

Still, I don’t know why conservatives are obsessing about our southern border. Don’t they know that hordes of people are crossing our northern border with Canada? Yes, there’s a self-described “caravan” zipping back and forth across the Canadian border to…

What’s that?

Oh, that “caravan” is actually U.S. citizens headed forCanada “in search of affordable medical care in a country where they can get the exact same life-saving drugs for a dramatically lower price.”

I can’t imagine why a caravan of ill Americans is headed to Canada when we have, in the words of many conservatives, the “best health care system in the world.”

Wow, just imagine how many sickly Americans would be headed abroad for help if we ranked, say, the worst in the industrialized world in health care? Yeah, that would be embarrassing.

But getting back to the southern border, it might interest you to know that there is indeed a “little-noticed surge across the U.S.-Mexico border,” but that it is “Americans, heading south.”

You see, “the U.S.-born population in Mexico “has reached 799,000 — a roughly fourfold increase since 1990.” And that is probably an undercount, with some experts estimating the real number at 1.5 million or more.

By some measures, “the flow of migrants from the United States to Mexico is probably larger than the flow of Mexicans to the United States.” Unfortunately, many of the Americans living there are, well, “illegal.”

That’s irony on a major level.

Maybe we can send the U.S. Border Patrol to round them up. But of course, those officers are too busy sharing “memes mocking dead migrant children, photoshopped images of elected officials performing sex acts, and discussions of throwing things at elected officials who visit Border Patrol detention facilities.”

Looking at the infamous U.S. Border Patrol Facebook group’s homepage reveals acres of “vile stuff, and confirms many of the worst suspicions regarding the agency accused of running torture facilities.” 

Who would have thought that individuals who yank screaming children away from their parents could be bad people? 

Regardless, we’ve now come full circle when it comes to the border crisis. It comes down to kids in cages. 

So let’s allow the final word to come from those right-wingers who combine their love of the Second Amendment with their hatred of Latinos. Mixing together this toxic stew creates the fresh argument that “Americans need guns in order to potentially fight off unlimited immigrants coming into the United States.” I bet you were unaware that “citizens need the ability to defend ourselves because we don’t know who is coming into the country.”

Well, now you know.

Thursday
Sep122019

The Audacity of Giving Up Hope

Hey, remember the movie Idiocracy?

A cult hit by the guy who created Beavis and Butthead, the film presented a future where morons had bred out of control, causing the world’s collective IQ to drop and civilization to de-evolve into stupidity.

Yeah, we all laughed. Of course, while watching the movie, we assumed that we were the smart ones, outnumbered by mouth-breathing dullards, which is why we had a good chuckle over the idea of blithering fools taking over the nation. 

And let me tell you, there is nothing egotistical or elitist about that — nope.

In any case, it might interest you to know that idiocracy will indeed be our future, but the movie got two things wrong. 

First, it will not be a comedy. 

And second, you are not the genius savior laughing at buffoons. No, you are part of the problem. You are one of the idiots.

You see, a recent academic paper has caused quite a commotion, because it argues that “democracy is devouring itself — and it won’t last.” The paper’s authors state that “in well-established democracies like the United States, democratic governance will continue its inexorable decline and will eventually fail.”

Ponder that thesis: democracy is doomed.

It’s a little grim, isn’t it?

Now, you might say this is all Trump’s fault. And indeed, the researchers agree that “Trump’s successful anti-immigrant populist campaign may be a symptom of democracy’s decline.”

However, the bigger issue is that our brains — full of subconscious biases, fearful impulses and irrational narratives — just aren’t good at processing facts. Add to this the scourges of racism, tribalism, and selfishness, and one could argue that when it comes to democracy, “humans just aren’t built for it.”

Again, the paper’s authors don’t say it’s all the fault of those red-neck yokels who believe in Pizzagate (although, let’s be honest, they are the most obvious patient zeros for democracy’s illness).

No, the researchers believe that “democracy is hard work and requires a lot from those who participate in it,” such as “thoughtfulness, discipline and logic” as well as the ability “to respect those with different views from theirs and people who don’t look like them.” 

The paper concludes that nobody — as in not one single person — can really perform these tasks that well. So be honest. Did you actually research all the candidates for your local school board election? Are you always respectful of reasonable people who disagree with you? Did you blow off the last Democratic presidential debate to catch up on back episodes of The Bachelorette?

Yeah, you’re not alone.

Some people are better at practicing democracy than others, but ultimately, “the majority of Americans are generally unable to understand or value democratic culture, institutions, practices or citizenship in the manner required.”

Again, that is not “a lot” or a “substantial minority” of your fellow patriots. No, it is “the majority of Americans.”

And if you’re asking why this is happening now, the researchers conclude that the “irony is that more democracy — ushered in by social media and the internet, where information flows more freely than ever before — is what has unmoored our politics, and is leading us toward authoritarianism.”

That’s where our favorite racist megalomaniac comes in. Trump’s role in the downfall of democracy is clear. You see, it is always easier to “pledge allegiance to an authoritarian leader than to do the hard work of thinking for yourself demanded by democracy.”

So this all very depressing — the end of democracy and collapse of America and all that.

But wait, because it gets even more horrible.

The novelist Jonathan Franzen recently achieved a literary going-viral moment when he wrote an article stating “climate apocalypse” is inevitable and that we should just “admit that we can’t prevent it.”

Franzen wrote that it is silly to go on “hoping that catastrophe is preventable.” Instead, he argues, we need to “accept that disaster is coming” and shift our attention to dealing with the resulting calamities.

This means preparing for droughts and floods and blizzards and climate refugees and political upheaval and lots of war. It means, according to Franzen, a future where “the systems of industrial agriculture and global trade break down and homeless people outnumber people with homes.”

And then he says something about how we can yet preserve a functioning world and still be optimistic in the face of chaos. But to be honest, everyone stopped reading the article at that point because we all felt like killing ourselves.

At this juncture, I will again bring up the minor issue that some experts believe that civilization itself will start to collapse as soon as 2050.

So there’s that.

With such a cavalcade of pessimism, is there any chance that we can, as Franzen states, “begin to rethink what it means to have hope”?

When it comes to climate change and democracy and the supposed greatness of America, is it time to just cut our losses? Is it time to stop fighting the good fight and instead prepare for the worst? 

What should we do now?

Friday
Sep062019

Nothing But Chaos

Perhaps you’ve felt the need for speed. 

Or you’ve felt the need for weed.

Or you’ve felt … I don’t know… the need for tweed… ok the wordplay breaks down pretty quickly.

In any case, you most likely never felt the need for chaos, and it’s not just because the phrase doesn’t rhyme.

No, it’s because you probably don’t agree with the following the statements:

 

I fantasize about a natural disaster wiping out most of humanity such that a small group of people can start all over.

Sometimes I just feel like destroying beautiful things.

I think society should be burned to the ground.

 

Wow, those are pretty crazy inklings, aren’t they?

Well, it might surprise you to know that a “staggering” number of Americans agree with those statements, including 40 percent of Americans who want to torch all of our political and social institutions, and 24 percent who believe society itself should be completely destroyed.

Yes, that probably surprises you.

Now, does it surprise you to know that harboring such dark thoughts is positively correlated with supporting Trump?

OK, that probably doesn’t surprise you.

You see, a new study has shown that “a segment of the American electorate that was once peripheral is drawn to ‘chaos incitement’and that this segment has gained decisive influence through the rise of social media.”

The researchers state that these individuals have a "Need for Chaos” (NFC) that manifests itself in “willingly spreading disinformation… not to advance their own ideology but to undermine political elites, left and right, and to mobilize others against politicians in general.” 

Leaving aside the fact that both Chaos Incitement and Need for Chaos are great names for punk bands, the study found that NFC is a “strategy of last resort by marginalized status-seekers, willing to adopt disruptive tactics.” 

Yeah, this basically means angry people who blame others for their problems. These are the individuals who rant about American carnage and think hordes of “illegals” are murdering citizens in the streets and see no solution other than a Shiva-like destruction of the nation’s foundations.

And this pathology (there is no other word) is “associated with support for Donald Trump.” 

Of course, there are some issues with this analysis. For starters, it discounts racism as a prime motivator among Trump voters, which as we all know, is a well-established link

However, there is little doubt that “NFC can also explain some of Trump's support, as a not insignificant slice of the American electorate seems to be driven by a desire to tear down the system.”

In other words, many of Trump’s biggest fans don’t even believe in the mythical Make America Great Again slogan. They just want to see everybody suffer.These political nihilists do not “share rumors because they believe them to be true. For the core group, hostile political rumors are simply a tool to create havoc.”

And as many experts have noted, Trump himself “has consistently sought to strengthen the perception that America is in chaos, a perception that has enhanced his support.” And this effort has paid off, because many Americans — including a disturbing number of his supporters — fantasize not about peace and prosperity, but about rage and entropy.  

They envision a country — even a world — where everything burns. 

They see bedlam all around them. And it makes them smile.

Thursday
Aug292019

Implausible Deniability

Hey, remember Ronald Reagan?

Sure you do. He was the devil.

Woops, I meant to say that he was the 40th president of the United States whom many people consider the last great Republican leader. Well, it turns out that he was also an unrepentant bigot.

Hey, remember the Tea Party?

Yeah, they were the band of rabid racists who freaked out because America elected a black man.

Sorry, I meant to say they were the highly principled patriots who protested rampant government spending. Well, it turns out that they were actually hate-filled hypocrites who latched onto a convenient excuse to spew irrational, prejudicial nonsense.

In both cases, present-day conservatives shrug and say, “Who could have known?”

Yet all the clues were there, and even at the time, lots of progressives said Reagan was a racist and the Tea Party were lunatics who hated ethnic minorities.

But today’s GOP insists it’s a left-wing lie that racism has had a cozy home within its party’s confines for, oh, the past 50 years or so. Just ignore the Southern Strategy and Nixon’s anti-Semitism and people hanging Obamain effigy and hard data that shows Trump’s win was fueled by xenophobia more than any other factor and… well, what do you have?

OK, there are real-life Nazis in the Republican Party and GOP congressmen praising white supremacists and nationalistic terrorists gunning down Latinos.

But besides that, what do you have?

Yes, I’ll give you the fact that Trump has hurled racial slurs at members of Congress — insults that would get him fired at any normal job. And it’s true that racial resentment correlates with voting Republican. And yeah, hate crimes have increased since Trump was elected, especially in places where he held campaign rallies. And Fox News spotlights white men who demean immigrants and praise white homogeneity. And more than half of all Americans say the president is flat-out racist.

But really, isn’t all that just coincidence?

No? Not even a little bit?

Um, no.

It is clear to everyone in America that plausible deniability is gone.  You simply can’t say that you don’t know.

At this point, if you support Trump, there are only four possibilities:

  1. You are a racist
  2. You are supportive of a racist in exchange for a bigger tax refund or the achievement of some vague conservative goal (like Supreme Court justices who still think it’s 1959)
  3. You put up with a racist because you’re in too deep, and to admit your error in voting for this corrupt fraud opens yourself up to a flurry of “told ya so” by those damn liberals
  4. You have suffered a grievous brain injury and don’t know what the fuck is going on

But to say the president is not a bigot, or to dispute the cancer of racism that has a chokehold on the modern Republican Party, is to indulge in fantastical thinking that can only lead to more chaos and, eventually, to a searing rendering of the American nation itself.

Because you know the truth. Let’s all stop denying it.

Friday
Aug232019

All Over the World

Part of being American is expecting that on any given day, you will be involved in a shootout. 

Hell, most of us just assume that, inevitably, we’ll be crouched under a desk, ducking behind a pew, or sprinting across traffic to flee gunfire. Or maybe we’ll be in active-engagement mode and exchanging shots with a rifle-wielding assailant because there are so many, you know, good guys with guns keeping us safe… yup.

Now, according to our favorite right-wingers, you are most likely to be gunned down by a bloodthirsty Latino “illegal,” or a wild-eyed Muslim immigrant. And if they don’t get you, there are Antifa thugs eager to bash in your head, because we all know that leftists are the most violent people in America.

Oh wait… in truth, only about 3 percent of politically motivated homicides are carried out by leftists. On the other hand, over 70 percent “of U.S. extremist-related murders in the past decade were committed by right-wing extremists, including white supremacists.”

So yeah, a white guy with a gun and an agenda is a lot more dangerous than just about anybody else in this nation. 

In fact, the FBI says that a majority of the domestic-terrorism cases that they’ve investigated “are motivated by some version of what you might call white-supremacist violence.” 

Yeah, we might call it that.

We might also call it a growing threat to the stability of civilization. Because white supremacy is a not just a problem within the United States, but is “part of a global network of white nationalist radicalization and violence.”

Studies show that in many nations, “terrorism does increase with immigration,” just like hardline conservatives insist, but in a murderous irony, this is true only with regard to “homegrown right-wing terrorism.”

And as the shooting in El Paso showed us, there are plenty of homegrown right-wing terrorists eager to enforce their homicidal versions of racial purity. Latinos, in particular, seem to be a popular target at such times.

However, it’s important to note that “recent racist violence in the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Europe is linked by the shared conspiracy that white people are being displaced from their home countries.” All around the world, white supremacists who share this paranoid vision believe the only proper response is “to create a violent societal collapse, that will lead to apocalyptic end times, and a race war, and then eventually to restoration and rebirth.”

In America, that has led to a cavalcade of xenophobic freaks who are“part of a larger ecosystem,” but are united in their desire“to outdo Timothy McVeigh.” And as some experts on white nationalism have proclaimed, “it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

Wow, that’s all pretty grim. But fortunately, our nation’s leaders are determined to fight this growing scourge.

Actually, what I meant to say is “determined to deny that the problem even exists.” Yes, I get those concepts confused sometimes.

It just so happens that “a leaked memo reveals the GOP’s strategy” for fighting militant racism, which is to “point the finger at the left and minimize the role of white supremacy at all costs.”

OK, that’s not quite what we had in mind. 

But you see, it is simply not politically beneficial for Republicans to admit that some of their most enthusiastic followers — white people with a high degree of racial anxiety — may be plotting to shoot up the place. In addition, a long history of “racially inflammatory views blurs the line between conservatism and outright white supremacy, making it very difficult for conservatives to police the boundaries between the two.”

Maybe that’s one reason a conservative can get on television and proclaim that “white supremacy is a hoax,” and “actually not a real problem in America.”

How’s that for bravely confronting a problem head-on?

In summary, let me leave you with this little anecdote. 

Recently, a neo-Nazi was arrested for threatening to murder a Latina and her family, stating in completely unambiguous language that he would “stop at nothing” until the “entire worthless Latin race is racially exterminated.” After pledging allegiance to Hitler, the man declared, “Spanish and all Spanish speaking people illegal.”

He ended his threat by saying, “I thank God every day that President Donald Trumpis president and that he will launch a racial war and crusade to keep all the n-----s, spics, and Muslims and any dangerous non-white or ethnically or culturally foreign group in line.”

Now imagine thousands, perhaps millions, of this guy.

Just imagine it.