Thursday
Jan182018

I Shouldn’t Have to Explain This

In case you're confused, here’s a hint: When Nazis applaud you, you’ve probably said something racist.

Yes, our favorite demented, immoral leader slurred entire nations last week when he said, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here? 

Now, there’s been a lot of defensiveness over comments that are, prima facie, indefensible. Yes, some Republicans have criticized the president, including those who took personal offense. Of course, this is just further proof that many conservatives only care about an issue if it affects them personally, and seem to be incapable of basic empathy for others, but I digress. 

However, most members of the GOP have embraced the same spineless cowering that has exemplified their party’s meek surrender to the mad emperor. 

And a few have even tried to cover for him with excuses that range from the pathetic to the improbable.

In any case, all the outrage over one word — shithole — is understandable. But it’s not the main point. Because the thing that should really concern us is not the vulgarity or the specific linguistics, but the clear mindset and sentiment behind these words.

To show you what I mean, let’s look at some of the statements Trump could have made that would be merely reprehensible, unpresidential, and vile — but perhaps, maybe not full-blown racist, irredeemable, and grotesque. He could have said any of the following:

“Those countries are shitholes. I can see why people want to come to America.”

“Those countries are shitholes. I feel sorry for people stuck there.”

“Those countries are shitholes. We should try to improve those places.”

And so on.

But he didn't say that. Again, he said the following:

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

In other words, those countries are shitholes and (more importantly) everyone who lives there, comes from there, or has ancestors from there are, by extension, useless pieces of shit themselves.

And of course, adding that you’re fine with immigrants from the whitest nations on Earth just reinforces the bigotry. 

In essence, the president’s argument is indistinguishable from the rambling of some old racist drunk. Go ahead, make it a party game. See if you can identify the differences between Trump and your average bigot on a barstool. You cannot.

Now, as I’ve mentioned before, my family is from El Salvador — or as it’s known in Trump’s world, Central Shitholeia. I’ve been very upfront about how troubled that country is.

But every nation, every group of people, has inherent dignity.

The ranting of a sad, old man who lucked into a position of power cannot change that.

Wednesday
Jan102018

Not Exactly a Plot Twist

If you’re like me, you spent the first week of 2018 striving to achieve your goals and keep your resolutions. In my case, that means trying to gain weight, start smoking, and focus on the big things in life (yes, I’m a contrarian).

But one thing I did not do is spend any time — I mean, zero minutes — perusing articles on what the Trump Administration “might” do with regards to the temporary protected status of the 200,000 immigrants who have fled my family’s homeland of El Salvador. These individuals were given protection after a series of earthquakes hit the country in 2001. 

A couple of headlines proclaimed that Trump faced a big decision, or that the administration was weighing the pros and cons, or that the Salvadorans still had a shot at gaining citizenship, blah blah blah.

Come on, people. No one could seriously believe, for even the briefest scintilla of a moment, that this administration would say, “Sure, all you Latino immigrants. Please stick around.”

The only shocker is that Trump minions are not going door to door, rounding up Salvadorans and cattle-prodding them onto trucks.

To extend protections, or to offer a pathway to citizenship, would require the White House to analyze the political situation, embrace empathy as a virtue, and end its ceaseless hatred of Hispanics. None of those things is going to happen any time soon, let alone all of them at once. 

So the Salvadorans have until September 2019 to seek permanent residency in the United States or risk deportation. As immigration experts have pointed out, “these are people who have been living by the rules … getting background checks every 18 months, getting their fingerprints for 20 years." But America is so over that whole “give me your tired and meek” pabulum. Now, it’s more about “Serve your masters or get out now.”

In any case, “the Trump administration did not consider the gang-perpetrated violence in El Salvador when deciding to end the protected status.” If it had, perhaps it would have realized that terminating the program “will not make America safer and will undermine U.S. efforts in the Western Hemisphere to better protect America from drug trafficking and gang violence.”

In addition, “by sending back 200,000 workers who have been in America for 17 years, the Trump administration will actually increase the flow of migrants from El Salvador.” The move will have a negative impact on remittances and “displace already economically precarious workers in El Salvador, who will migrate to the United States out of desperation.” 

Yes, leave it to the Trump Administration to placate its hardline nativist base with a decision that is “not in line with American values” and that may actually increase illegal immigration.

It’s something that only a really stable genius would do.

 

Friday
Jan052018

Open Secrets

“Who could possibly have known?”

Sorry, that wasn’t overwrought enough. 

Let’s try it again: “For the love of God, who — who? who? who ? —could possibly have known?”

That’s better.

I was just providing some tips for all those staunch Republicans who have justified,  rationalized, or otherwise legitimized the reign of Trump.

You see, as I’ve written before, people who voted for Trump will someday be so embarrassed at their moral lapse that they will outright deny it. They will insist that they didn’t cast a ballot for a deranged racist who dragged America into a dark period of rage and hatred. Nope — that wasn’t them.

What I didn’t expect was that the day of reckoning would come so quickly.

As you no doubt know, the book Fire and Fury has revealed that Trump is an ignorant, befuddled, tantrum-prone egotist who didn't even want to be president and is appallingly unqualified for the job. Oh, and his inner circle knows it too, because according to the book, “the people around Trump, all — 100 percent — came to believe he was incapable of functioning in his job.” 

And that’s where the denial comes in. Because all of this — the delusion, the incoherence, the blind rage, the rambling that may actually be dementia — was obvious on the campaign trail. It was perfectly clear

And yet more than 60 million Americans chose to overlook it, and the Republican Party continues to deny it. 

So when it all finally crumbles into disaster, when it becomes so piercingly obvious that no one can refute it, that’s when we will hear the sickening chorus of “Who could possibly have known?”

The answer of course, is “You knew. We all knew.”

 

Thursday
Dec282017

One Down, Three (?) to Go

We have somehow made it through the first calendar year of the worst president in modern American history (and quite possible the worst of all time).

When it comes down to it, the most positive thing I can say about 2017 is this:

At least Prince and David Bowie didn’t die again this year.

Anyway, I’m taking the rest of the year off. If you need me, I’ll be checking out a matinee of The Last Jedi.

Happy New Year.

 

Wednesday
Dec202017

Stats for the Holidays

Just a quick post this week to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and give thanks that we all live in the greatest country in the world.

Well, actually, there is no “greatest country in the world,” at least in the sense of some objective standard or measurement. We just all say “greatest country in the world” and assume we’re talking about the USA because, I mean, come on, who are we kidding?

Of course, if we did use objective stats to analyze how well America is doing, how absolutely A#1 amazing we are, we might pull out this one:

“The US has the second-highest rate of poverty among rich countries,” and for black and Hispanic American children, “the poverty rate is even higher.”

Hmmm… that statistic isn’t so great, is it? Well, how about this one:

“The US has the highest income inequality of all rich countries.” And of course, that just got worse with today’s massive GOP tax cut for the wealthy.

OK, this isn’t going so well.  Let's try again.

Although “Americans spend enormously” on healthcare, we remain “in relatively poor health.” For example, America “has fewer physicians, hospital beds, and psychiatric care beds than most other economically advanced countries, ranking towards the bottom in each of these parameters.” And as if we all didn't already know, the United States “remains the only advanced economy in the world not to have full health coverage of its population." 

But look on the bright side, we’re also the most obese industrialized nation in the world.

About now, you’re probably wondering where I’m getting all those disturbing statistics.

Well, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) put together a report that found “the US performs dismally in most areas — such as healthcare, education, and violence.” In fact, the analysis “proves that, while Americans may be doing relatively fine, ‘best country to live in’ is a serious stretch.”

Yes, according to the OECD, “child mortality is higher in the US than any other advanced economy, and adult Americans also live shorter lives.”

Hey, if you want to live longer, move to Japan or one of those fancy, effeminate European countries where they simply don’t understand that dying young just proves how tough you are and is clearly the patriotic thing to do.

The OECD gets a little personal when it claims that America “stands out as one of the only countries in the world where maternal mortality has increased, rather than decreasing, over the past 15 years.”

But of course, that’s just one of the ways in which it sucks to be an American woman. Because according to the report, the “share of US women who experience violence in their lifetime is much higher than the OECD average,” and “the gender wage gap is also bigger in the US.” But don't worry, because another thing we have going for us is the fact that America is “one of only two countries in the world that do not mandate paid maternity leave.”

How’s that for American exceptionalism?

Now, my intention is not to bring you down this holiday season.

It is simply to point out that much work needs to be done, and shouting how we’re the “greatest” isn’t going to accomplish anything.

We cannot address our problems if we refuse to acknowledge them, or if we dismiss disturbing facts as fake news, or if we insist that we have nothing to learn from any other nation because we’re just the damn best.

We’re only 200+ years old. Maybe we have some growing up to do.