Thursday
Sep212017

I Bombed Korea Every Night

When I was a kid a million years ago, during the 1980s, our president was a doddering simpleton who really, really hated communists.

The Gipper once made a “joke” that the United States was going to nuke the Soviet Union. He didn’t know the mic was on, and the chiste didn’t go over so well. In fact, the comment was “taken seriously by the Soviets who stood on alert for 30 minutes.”

As horrific as this gaffe was, at least Reagan wasn’t serious.

The same cannot be said for the current GOP inhabitant of the White House. Trump wasn’t joking, and he knew full well his microphone was on, as he stood in front of dozens of world leaders and threatened “to totally destroy North Korea.”

As many people have pointed out, the man is no Reagan.

In any case, most of the sane people in the world had a decidedly negative reaction to an ill-tempered buffoon with access to nuclear weapons spouting off about starting a cataclysmic war.

But to the minds of conservatives, well, the United States can never have enough death and destruction.

You see, over half of Republicans “support conducting airstrikes on North Korean nuclear facilities.”

That action would, of course, lead to a full-on war, with disastrous consequences for our allies, South Korea and Japan, and possibly massive casualties for America.

At the very least, it would cost us a lot of money, but then again, those would be special war dollars, and we have an infinite amount of them (as opposed to, say, healthcare dollars or education dollars or infrastructure dollars… but I digress). 

Regardless, what’s interesting about this latest manifestation of right-wing warmongering is that it comes immediately after many conservatives had declared this whole North Korean thing over and done with.

Remember way back when North Korea was threatening to attack Guam, and Trump tweeted out some belligerent nonsense, and the entire world was on edge because it looked like two sociopathic narcissists were going to plunge the whole planet into hellish nuclear annihilation?

Yeah, we can all laugh about it now.

Oh, wait, it’s only Republicans who can laugh about it. You see, this all went down mere weeks ago. At the time, many conservatives insisted that Trump’s hostility had paid off, and that North Korea had “blinked,” which seems to have meant, “They haven’t nuked Seattle yet.”

Yeah, I’m not hearing any of that talk now — especially because that supposedly cowed country is threatening to detonate a hydrogen bomb over the ocean, in direct response to be being taunted.

So maybe that wasn’t the best strategy after all.

But according to conservatives, all we really need to do is take out that pudgy guy in Asia. He needs a warhead dropped on him — like now!

Of course, we can talk about the GOP predilection for international violence. They truly seem to believe there is no issue that can’t be solved with a hastily planed, poorly designed invasion.

But for people obsessed with preserving the past — from resurrecting a mythical era to putting up statues of their treacherous ancestors — conservatives have no grasp of history. And I mean recent history, from the last decade.

I would like to ask all those people who are clamoring for war with North Korea the following question: “Weren’t you saying the exact same thing in 2003, but about Iraq?”

Yes, for conservatives with poor memories, it was the GOP who insisted that marching into the Middle East was a great idea, and would make the world safer, and would pay for itself, and that we would never ever regret it.

Well, it’s not even a generation later, and we all pretty much regret it (to the point that we even lie about supporting the war in the first place).

So why would bombing Korea be any different than launching missiles at Iraq? If anything, it would be far worse, with an even more predictable result of massive death and chaos.

Maybe Republicans just like to talk tough and act out their perpetual anger. Or maybe their nostalgia for the 1950s has hit a new low.

After all, from 1950 to 1952, we issued rain and ruin by the US air force. Pyongyang had been razed to the ground, with the Air Force stating in official documents that the North’s cities suffered greater damage than German and Japanese cities firebombed during World War II.” Oh, and by the way, the Korean War also killed 37,000 American troops.

And yet here we are, over 60 years later, still insisting that we can bomb our way out of this mess. We’re still demanding more blood, and more rah-rah, super-patriotic, can-do American warfare overseas.

Because this time it will solve all our problems, despite all the recent evidence to the contrary in Iraq and the evidence of the actual fucking war in Korea decades ago.

Yes, apparently even God himself wants us to bomb North Korea.

So I’m sure it will all work out just fine.

Friday
Sep152017

Nope, Not Impressed

I really should have become a political pundit. I mean, how hard can it be?

These people snag a lot of cash to make predictions, but studies have shown that “although they are paid for their keen insights into world affairs, they often perform worse than random chance.” In fact, “a dart-throwing chimp would have beaten the vast majority of professionals” when it comes to forecasting political outcomes.

That would also make for a substantially more entertaining Sunday morning talk show.

To be fair, predictions are extremely difficult to make (especially about the future). After all, most of us thought that we would be calling Hillary Clinton “Madam President” by this point.

However, one would think that pundits could at least analyze the current situation. One would hope that so-called experts could use their vast knowledge about the political climate and their experience with the players involved to come to a reasonable conclusion about what is going on right in front of them, with no need to predict anything.

One would be wrong.

For example, recently our illustrious president set out to strangle the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program with his own grimy, tiny hands. But then he said, “Ha, just kidding. I love the Hispanics.” And he then “signaled his embrace of granting permanent legal status to the Dreamers as part of a deal with Democrats that he said is close to being finalized.”

This is of course comes shortly after Trump “bucked his own party's leaders and sided with Democrats on a deal to bundle Hurricane Harvey relief funds, a three-month debt-limit increase, and a three-month continuing resolution to keep the government funded.”

And of course, pundits have responded with acclaim that Trump is finally acting presidential, and is listening to his advisors to be more reasonable. Yes, the narcissistic bully with no regard for the truth is at long last buckling down and working to move the country forward — right?

Um, no — that’s optimistic to the point of delusional.

Trump is not pivoting, or moving to the middle, or any other form of wishful thinking that implies he is suddenly going to be more reasonable. Nor is he executing some grand master plan to advance his agenda, or springing an intricate trap to ensnare Democrats.

The man has no agenda, other than self-glorification. And he is not capable of devising any complicated, ingenious schemes whatsoever.

It should be clear to everyone — and I mean, everyone — that the real Trump was revealed long ago and is never going to change.

He is a thin-skinned old man with minimal impulse control and a bottomless pit of rage. Everything he does is about the moment, with no regard to the future, and he relies on his base instincts to get him through the day.

So when Trump got into a room with a bunch of Republicans he hates, and a few Democrats whom he could tolerate, he just went with his gut. When it came to the budget deal, Trump agreed with a stance that he didn’t really understand, because he has no patience for in-depth analysis. All he knew is that the boring meeting would be over soon, and he would get to humiliate Mitch McConnell while he was at it. That’s a rare win-win for him.

He repeated this process, more or less, with DACA. Although this time, he belatedly realized that he had unwittingly come across as almost human, thereby angering his fearful, venom-spewing supporters. And so he has since backtracked (a rare maneuver for him) and wound up contradicting himself (a common maneuver for him).

In any case, his full strategy has always been based upon split-second indifference.

It’s baffling why people see his hasty decision-making and obliviousness to political considerations as somehow “presidential.” He did what he has always done, and it just so happened that in these cases, it has benefitted Democrats (the law of averages dictates that this would eventually happen). And it could possibly even benefit the Dreamers, which would be a happy accident.

Yes, it's amusing to see Republicans suddenly come to the realization that Trump doesn’t give a fuck about them or their agenda. He never did.

But there is no real change here. By next week, Trump will be tweeting some new threat, or sabotaging the political process, or otherwise infesting American democracy with every second he spends in the Oval Office.

And some political pundit will say that this time it will be different.

 

 

Thursday
Sep072017

A Subtle Hint

Clearly, our flaming oil spill of a president can’t go a week without lashing out at Latinos. That’s no exaggeration.

We are still struggling to process the pardoning of Arpaio, and how it illustrates nothing less than pure contempt for Hispanics. 

But now Trump has ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — also called DACA — which puts “an expiration date on the legal protections granted to roughly 800,000 people known as DREAMers, who entered the country illegally as children.”

Of course, Trump’s defenders insist that he hasn’t killed DACA, because there is a six-month phasing out of the program, and Congress still has the option of addressing the issue, and blah blah blah.

Let’s stop the foolishness.

This was a cruel, wrong, and inhumane action that has no discernible benefit to America (unless you count “a potential $60 billion loss in tax revenue to the federal government and $280 billion hit to economic growth” as a good thing). Hell, even many Republicans support DACA.

Obviously, killing the program cheers up Trump’s base of racists and hard-right supporters. But more than anything, it is a petulant foot stomping by a bigot who just doesn't like Hispanics terribly much. It is the shrieking of a black-hearted man who sincerely believes that “most people aren't worthy of respect” and who suffers from a “profound fear of his fellow human beings — at least ones who don't resemble him.”

And through all this, I have to wonder about those Latinos who still support Trump.

What additional evidence do they need to realize that this guy is not their buddy? What are they seeing in Trump that the rest of us are somehow missing?

Does Jeff Sessions have to show up at their front door, demanding that they pack up and get the hell out of the country, before they will acknowledge how this administration loathes Hispanics?

Hey, don’t rule anything out.

 

Wednesday
Aug302017

Shame Shame Go Away

The great state of Texas is underwater, and our president thinks that desperate, devastated Americans who have lost everything — maybe even a loved one — are coming out to cheer for him.

Unfortunately, this is not a surprise, coming from the sociopath in chief.

The previous non-shocker, of course, was Trump’s pardon of the infamous Joe Arpaio.

Now, there’s not much analysis I can add to the sorry spectacle of Trump’s shady, rushed act clemency that undermines the judicial system, upends presidential tradition, and shows contempt for both the Constitution and the very concept of law and order (which is supposedly a GOP value).

Because while Republicans play their usual song and dance about being outraged but doing nothing, the rest of us wonder if this a is a test run to undermine the Russia investigation

At the very least, we all know that this is another example of Trump’s authoritarian tactics.

It might even be an impeachable offense (a phrase that has been ascribed to Trump’s behavior so often that I have lost track of his potentially criminal actions).

Furthermore, we know that Trump’s pardon sends a clear message to bigoted cops and prejudiced government officials everywhere that there are no — as in zero — consequences for even the most xenophobic and oppressive behavior.

We also know that Arpaio isn’t just a middling bigot, but is in fact “viciously racist” on a level we haven’t seen in public officials since the Civil Rights Era.

And finally, we know that Arpaio — in addition to being a hate-filled racist and scourge to Latinos everywhere — is also an incompetent cop and flat-out evil man.

So what do I have to add to the discussion?

Nothing, really. I just want to make sure that everybody is aware of all of the above.

And if you still support Trump, think about the company you keep.

 

Thursday
Aug242017

Breakdown in the Break Room

Just about everybody is disavowing the alt-right… with one notable exception, of course.

But among the people who are telling neo-fascists to leave us all alone, there is James Damore, who recently got fired from Google for making the tiny faux pas of insisting that all his female colleagues were genetically inferior bags of neurosis who must bow down to his mighty intellect and sheer manliness.

My favorite part of Damore’s lengthy screed was when he said women couldn't handle stress. Yes, for tips on how to handle stress, look to men, who never (and I mean, never) just snap under pressure and go on shooting sprees, or physically attack people who disagree with them, or drive their cars into crowds of people.

Yeah, men never do any of those things.

Ahem.

In any case, there are several bewildering aspects to this infamous memo (such as, “When did misogyny become a conservative value?”). But I’m also interested in something that Damore brought up only in passing.

You see, in between dismissing the abilities of women, he also protested the concept of diversity — while insisting that he was all for diversity. This sad sleight of hand has the feel of the uncle who begins a conversation with the phrase “I’m not racist, but…” 

Apparently, many white men in the tech industry are pissed off that diversity programs even exist.

I know what you’re thinking. The tech industry has a well-documented shortage of ethnic minorities. For example, Latinos make up only about 3% of the techies at major companies, even though they constitute about 8% of computer science graduates (and about 17% of the nation).

And tech leaders point out that diversity is not just an issue of fairness, but of economic viability. An industry cannot sustain itself if there are few different perspectives, and insularity kills innovation.

So doesn’t everybody want more blacks and Latinos in tech?

Well, to be honest, not everybody does.

But even many non-bigots are likely to balk when it comes to, you know, actually doing something about tech’s abysmal level of ethnic diversity.

One reason for this problem is simple. Diversity programs, or initiatives to increase the presence of ethnic minorities, can make white men feel threatened.

Now, it’s fair to ask why this would be the case.

Apparently, messages about the importance of diversity may provoke some white men to believe “that they might be undervalued and discriminated against.” Studies have found “widespread negative responses to diversity … among white men” and shown that these negative responses “exist even among those who endorse the tenets of diversity and inclusion.” Additional research has revealed that “white men are more likely to feel threatened when their employers trumpet gender-equity and racial-diversity policies.”

Yikes — that’s not exactly what the creators of diversity programs were shooting for.

To combat this backlash, “a wave of companies is trying to soften the process by removing the emphasis on rules and penalties and having other white men lead the sessions.”

Yes, that’s correct. White guys aren't in charge of enough things, so now they’re even leading seminars about diversity.

Also, if you’re keeping track, diversity programs are yet another example of how American culture has to bend over backward to appease white men, many of whom seem to have an infinite number of things that infuriate, threaten, or disenfranchise them. 

Maybe we need to create a program to look into that.