The Building Tidal Wave

It’s at times like this that I crank up the music of Snap (excuse me, I meant Snap!)

You no doubt remember that band’s dance classic The Power, which contained the immortal line “I got the power!”

Yeah, go ahead and blare it.

And while you're grooving, realize that the aforementioned power in that song could very well refer to the surging cultural influence of Latinos, who “will increasingly become a critical foundation of support for the new American Economy.” And on the political front — say, picking the next president — you should know that “Latinos might end up being the key to the contest.”

How can this be? After all, Hispanics are very much an ethnic minority in this country, have just a sliver of the accumulated wealth that white Americans have, and are not exactly the most popular group among Washington politicians.

Well, it’s all about momentum. You see, population growth among Latinos is around 2%, which doesn't sound like much until you realize that for the rest of the American population, it’s below 0.5%. In fact, “U.S., population growth hit an 80-year low in 2018.”

Also, labor-force participation among Latinos is 68%, which is “about 6 percentage points higher than non-U.S. Latinos.” Crunching the numbers a little more shows us that Hispanics “accounted for 82% of the growth in U.S. labor-force participation between 2010 and 2017, despite accounting for less than 20% of the country’s overall population.”

So if you didn't know it already, here’s statistical proof that Hispanics are more likely to be working their asses off.

Increased consumer spending is also a reason why Latinos have the third-highest growth rate among all global economies and have the eight-largest economy in the world. To put it into perspective, if American Latinos were their own country, they would “exceed the size of France’s gross domestic product within the next 10 years.”

So take that, Frenchies!

Sorry, got a little jingoistic there for a minute.

The point is that “the contribution of the U.S. Latino community will become increasingly important moving forward to the economy.”

And this influence is sweeping into every sector of the economy. Hey, there are even more Hispanic truckers than ever before — yes, Latinos in trucker caps behind the wheels of big rigs. Think about the possibilities of a Smokey and the Bandit reboot with Diego Luna as a truck-driving Latino good ole boy.

On second thought, skip that. It’s a dumb idea.

In any case, when Hispanics are not propping up the U.S. economy, they are exerting long-overdo influence on the world of politics.

Witness that “for the first time, Latino elected officials and voters… are getting a real full-court press from Democratic contenders during the early stages of the primary process.”

Political experts believe that Hispanics “could play a much more prominent role in picking the nominee,” which is why the 839 Democrats running for president are currently glad-handing, backslapping, and speech-ifying their way through the Latino community. You see, “candidates who want to win simply can't afford to wait to build a following among Latino voters.”

For some strange reason, Republicans are not doing much to reach out to Hispanic voters. Maybe that's because Latino “support for the GOP is eroding,” and over half of Latinos who voted for Republicans in the past say that “it is hard to support Republican candidates right now.”

That’s a real shame, isn’t it?

Because as we know, Latinos are only getting stronger.


Loading Guns on Fifth Avenue

Perhaps you remember when our totally innocent and not at all corrupt president boasted that he could murder people in the street and not lose any support?

Yeah, good times.

In any case, murdering the country has been a slightly tougher sell for the guy.

Recently, many Trump loyalists went on television to quixotically defend the president’s shenanigans with Ukraine, and as we all know, “their efforts did not go well and produced a number of cringe-worthy moments.”

Indeed, it’s difficult to spin an open-and-shut case of pressuring a foreign government to interfere in American elections, and our most esteemed Republicans appear to be “woefully unprepared to defend a president whose conduct is becoming increasingly hard to justify.”

In fact, one hot rumor holds that “if it was a secret vote, 30 Republican senators would vote to impeach Trump.”

By the way, that’s over half the GOP representation in the Senate and, assuming that every Democrat would vote for conviction, far more than is needed to remove the president from office.

But of course, any impeachment vote — if and when it happens — will not be in secret. It will be a very public, very messy spectacle.

And in those circumstances, those 30 anonymous senators will gulp and say, “not guilty,” for fear of offending their psychotic overlord.

Imagine such a scenario, and then realize that it is far worse than mere cowardice. It is treachery. After all, these senators are saying, “Yeah, I know that the president has committed grotesque crimes against the Constitution and has unleashed lasting devastation upon America, but I really, really don’t want to lose my cushy job.”

And that is clearly jamming personal ambitions ahead of the nation’s interest, which is a sickening dereliction of duty from people who constantly boast about how patriotic they are.

There has been much talk — justified talk — that Republicans regularly put party ahead of country. But the truth is that they put their individual needs ahead of even their party’s future viability, leaving the country a distant third priority, at best.

But they are not the only ones who live in fear of offending a man who flies into a rage if, for example, he’s asked to answer basic questions about his lunatic behavior.

No, the Log Cabin Republicans, the country’s best-known conservative LGBTQ organization, recently endorsed the president’s 2020 reelection bid. It’s interesting that the group “declined to endorse then-candidate Trump in 2016,” back when they thought they had a choice.

But now, the Log Cabin Republicans have fallen into line, displaying “a certain level of perverse chutzpah, or a certain level of confidence in your gaslighting abilities, to claim that President Trump is good for LGBTQ people.”


The Log Cabin Republicans suddenly got into groveling because Trump’s hardcore supporters are the real power in the GOP. And they will not be dissuaded, even if the administration’s disastrous policies nail them personally.

For example, my home state of Wisconsin continues to top the nation in family farm bankruptcies. No one seriously disputes that Trump’s idiotic trade war is “contributing to their economic hardships.”

So those Wisconsin farmers must be mad as hell at the president— right?

Well, these rural soon-to-be paupers are “appear to be sticking by Trump — not just the Republican they largely supported in the 2016 election, but the trade warrior who has put their industries in China’s sights.”

Many of these farmers don’t blame Trump for destroying their livelihoods. Instead, they aim their ire at unknown, nameless “Washington bureaucrats,” (always an easy target). And in an impressive feat of cognitive dissonance, some farmers will continue to vote for oligarchs because they are “not in favor of any kind of socialism,” even while lining up to receive their government-funded bailout packages.

But don’t worry, because most of the $8.4 billion of Trump's farm bailouts has gone to the richest farmers, the top 10% of all recipients. Yes, even farmers have an elitist class that grabs most of the cash from everyone else, so I guess they really are like the rest of us.

As a final reminder of just how fervently, how obsessively Trump’s base clings to his aura, please keep in mind that about 40% of Republicans don’t even think the president mentioned Joe Biden’s name on that phone call with the Ukrainian president. Never mind arguing whether or not Trump pressured anyone or jeopardized American foreign policy or committed impeachable offenses. Four out of ten Republicans deny that the president even said Biden’s name, which is of course, an undisputed fact, and the most innocuous aspect of this whole sordid fiasco.

So how are you going to convince this crowd that their messiah did anything the slightest bit wrong?

Now, there is a sliver of optimism in this depressing compendium of right-wing fanaticism. Many political experts believe that “the good news for Democrats is that for every argument that pushing ahead on impeachment will hurt them, there is another that it won’t hurt much and may even help.”

And for the first time, “a plurality of Americans now support impeaching Trump and removing him from office.” Furthermore, support for impeachment is only growing with each passing day.

So maybe, possibly, in some distant future, one or two GOP senators will meekly stand up and say this administration is just the slightest bit shady.

But they probably won’t.



Here’s an interesting question:

If someone says the president should be executed, is he making an active threat against the chief executive that warrants some door knocking from the Secret Service? Well, what if that person is simply musing about the penalty for treason, and then goes on to accuse the president of that crime?

Yes, it’s a circuitous way to make a threat, and it makes for an interesting hypothetical that—

Oh, wait a minute. It’s not a rhetorical exercise. 

Recently, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld said that “the president committed treason through his controversial phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — adding that the punishment for treason is death.”

Now, you might think that Weld is one of those hardcore leftists whose days consist of smuggling undocumented immigrants, officiating gay weddings, and having brunch with the Squad before heading out to throw punches with Antifa. 

But Weld is a Republican. 

Damn, even conservatives are getting tired of Trump.

At long last, the president’s rampant corruption and overt contempt for the Constitution have become hideous enough for Democrats to finally emerge from hiding under their desks to whisper the word “impeachment.”

Still, even with all that Trump has done, many Democrats are afraid of removing the most bellicose, unstable, and reckless president that America has ever had.

You see, they are petrified they might lose the votes of Q Anon supporters. And if that is not a solid reason to shirk one’s constitutional duty and endanger the entire country, well, I don’t know what is.

In any case, this Ukrainian mess will likely not change anyone’s mind. If you are progressive, and tuned into the slightest particle on reality’s wave length, you will look at the transcript of the president’s phone call and see that it “reads like a classic mob shakedown.”

If you are a Republican, and exceedingly used to denying basic facts and common-sense conclusions, you will scream, “witch hunt” or “fake news” or “the deep state” or some other worn-out catchphrase that long ago morphed from stinging rebuke into pathetic plea.

It’s difficult to believe that anyone would still embrace the administration’s sad, sloppy attempts at distracting, deflecting blame, and eluding public disgrace. But you can’t blame Trump for sticking to a formula that works

After all, his GOP enablers will jump through flaming hoops to twist incriminating statements into exonerations. They argued that the Muller Report cleared Trump and believed that releasing the transcript of the Ukrainian phone call would never ever in a million years backfire. Hell, they view themselves as heroes.

And Trump’s fearful, logic-challenged base agrees. After all, these are the people who believe that virtually all writers, scientists, historians, economists, moderate politicians, and religious leaders (non-evangelicals) have devoted their lives to lying to the American populace for some unknown, nefarious reason.

Members of the base further believe that a delusional narcissist with a history of lying, bankruptcy, unethical behavior, and adultery is a beacon of truth — well, him and Fox News, which is little more than a slithering mass of irrational, hate-filled propaganda pushed by bigoted zealots who have a strong financial incentive to terrify their viewers.

So it’s going to work — at least with the 20% of Americans who will support the president no matter what.

For the rest of us, we remain mired in a political nightmare that careens between Lynchian and Kafkaesque, with swivels toward the Orwellian and stray Lewis Carroll fever dreams.

But is there reason to hope that we are nearing the end of this mad-scientist experiment on American democracy? Well, there is more cause for optimism than there has been since November 2016.

Of course, if Trump actually is removed from office, or hangs on only to lose the 2020 election, “the risks of bloodshed are real.”

So we’re back to acknowledging that there is no end in sight.


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.


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?