Wednesday
May162018

The Robots Are Coming

You may have noticed recently when a member of most incompetent, corrupt administration in history started talking trash about who does or doesn't have skills.

Yes, our old friend, White House chief of staff John Kelly, said he believes that “the vast majority of undocumented immigrantscrossing the southern border into the US do not assimilate well because they are poorly educated.” Kelly — whose boss is a sociopathic ignoramus who is historically unqualified for the job of president — went on to say that undocumented immigrants “don't have skills.”

And he did this without any sense of irony, grasp of hypocrisy, or inkling of shame.

But it wasn’t just Kelly who says undocumented immigrants are too dumb to fit into America and refuse to learn English, damn it.

Noted right-wing babe Tomi Lahren said, “people who don’t speak English or who come from poverty shouldn’t be allowed to immigrateto the United States.” She insisted that “you don’t just come into this country with low skills, low education, not understanding the language and come into our country.”

Of course, it took a journalist about nine seconds to do a little research and find out that Lahren’s ancestors did exactly that, proving that “people like Lahren continue to push a specious agendathat suggests today’s immigrants are somehow wholly different from previous ones.”

Indeed, it can be pointed out that “nativists can’t keep trying to back up their argument by saying ‘the country doesn’t work this way’ when clearly it does, and has, for their families. So why do they *really* not want these people here?”

To answer that question, let’s look again at the fabled white working class (i.e., the salt of the Earth) that forms the base of Trump’s support and the emotional underpinning for conservative thought in this country.

These non-immigrants are struggling to keep up because (in theory) Latinos have stolen their jobs, the coalmines have shut down, and the assembly line has moved to China.

And it’s supposedly going to get even worse soon, as self-driving carswill eliminate millions of jobs from truck drivers who are overwhelmingly white and uneducated.

So what has been the response to these issues?

Well, most Republicans and many Democrats have sought to assuage the fears of white working class people by telling them that their low-skill jobs are coming back (any day now!), and that they don’t have to change a thing. Nope, they don't have to take a computer class, learn a trade that’s actually in demand, or (heaven forbid) learn Spanish.

The implication, sometimes stated outright, is that too much change is happening, too fast, and we as a nation will make sure that these big mean machines don’t take anybody’s job.

So if you’re keeping track, this nation cannot accommodate immigrants who risk their lives to come here, work like demons, and often perform essential tasks that Americans don’t want to do

However, we can slow down our economy and move our entire society backward to make things a little easier for people who refuse to even acknowledge that it's the twenty-first century.

Interesting.

But I have a question.

Has a society — any society anywhere at any time — willfully stopped progress because the elites were afraid of how it would affect the least-skilled members of that society? I’m not being snarky. I honestly doubt this has ever happened in human history.

Remember that the Luddites failed to stop the machinesfrom taking their jobs. In fact, their doomed insurgency is only remembered today for giving us the adjective for a backward, fearful person who is terrified of technology.

Modern blue-collar workers will not fare any better. Republicans are stoking discontent among the white working class, but at best the GOP is being disingenuous about its ability to stop the acceleration of automation. At worst, Republicans are telling overt lies while laughing their asses off about the gullibility of small-town types.

Because Republicans cannot and will not stop the self-driving cars from coming. By the way, those self-driving cars will most likely “see farther and react faster, so it makes senseto bake computer control into big-rigs, to make them safer and more efficient,” thereby reducing the grim statistic that “crashes involving trucks kill about 4,000 peopleon US roads every year.”

Or we could just sabotage the computer programs and make sure big-rig drivers can continue to be less efficient while killing more people on the road. Because otherwise they might have to, you know, learn a new skill.

Sounds like a fair trade to me.

Oh, and one more thing: all those kiosksthat fast-food outlets have created to take the place of burger flippers? Well, conservatives love to imply that it’s because some cities have raised the minimum wage. But isn’t this just capitalism in action? After all, no company exec would say, “Yes, a machine can do this task more efficiently and for less money, but I really want a bored teenager to do the job.” 

Where does all this GOP concern for workers come from, all of a sudden?

I would think that conservatives — with their supposed love of the free market — would be thrilled with the idea of creating more efficient systems rather than subsidizing a low-skilled worker to do a worse job.

So again, what’s behind this sudden love for halting immigration and, while we’re at it, stopping economic and technological progress?

Well, I’ll talk more about that in my next post.

 

Thursday
May102018

No More Mr. Nice Guy

If you’re some kind of softy Nancy boy who wears his bleeding heart on his sleeve, then you might get a little emotional at the sight of, for example, screaming children being ripped out of their mothers’ arms.

But if you're a true patriot like Attorney General Jeff Sessions, then you know full well that the only way to protect America is to rip families apart and put children in jeopardy.

You see, The United States will now“take a stricter stanceon illegal crossings at the Mexico border by separating parents from children, rather than keeping them together in detention centers.”

The goal is to terrify people into not even trying to cross the border without 47 forms of ID. It’s an interesting theory, especially when one realizes that many people who are trying to enter the United States are fleeing oppressive countries where death is a constant presence, and that traveling to America is already a desperate choice where getting killed en route is a chance many people are willing to take. But hey, why not make things more hellish for them?

Sessions says, “We are dealing with a massive influxof illegal aliens across our Southwest Border” despite the fact that immigration — both legal and undocumented — is down, and that nobody except angry old white men actually still use the term “illegal alien.”

No matter, Sessions unveiled the zero-tolerance policy “with the goal of a 100 percent prosecution rate for all who enter the U.S. illegally.”

Quick aside: It’s interesting how conservatives are big fans of zero-tolerance policies when it comes to, say undocumented immigration and marijuana use. But they are all about forgiveness and mulliganswhen it comes to civil rights violationsand illegal campaign payouts to porn star mistresses. But I digress.

Sessions sums up the new approach with a curt “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”

Well, that settles it then. The Trump Administration’s policy can surely be nothing but an effective, but still humane, approach to complex problem — right?

Oh, and by the way, more than 700 children “have been separated from their parents since last October,” and “almost 1,500 migrant children went missingafter federal officials put them in the homes of adult sponsors around the country.”

Makes you proud to be an American, doesn't it?

 

Wednesday
May022018

A Brief List

Never say that I am not helpful — even to people who hate me.

I’m talking about my old friends in the Republican Party, who are currently projected to lose 4,000 seats in Congress during the next midterms. Of course, if the 2016 election taught us anything, it was to not trust the polls completely. But things look pretty bleakfor the GOP right now, even if the economy is defying the odds by continuing to chug along, and North Korea may actually refrain from nuking us.

Still, the Trump Administration has been, for the most part, one long nightmare for most Americans. And the polls reflect this.

So I’m offering some advice to conservatives that they can use in the next election. Here are some helpful hints for you Republicans that will help you make your pitch to voters over the next few months.

For starters, drop the whole party of morality thing. I’m not sure who ever believed this. But it’s clear that after embracing Trump and endorsing Roy Moore, the GOP has absolutely no credibility when it comes to judging ethical behavior. Republicans can talk all they want about virtue and the importance of family, but let’s be honest, after the tenth story of a Republican congressman resigningbecause he threatened his mistress, it gets a bit laughable.

Along those lines, conservatives really have to let get of their image as the bastions of decency. Getting all huffy about what is proper and dignified just doesn’t fly when you gleefully cheer for a guy who boasts about sexually assaulting women and denigrates ethnic minorities. And yes, that means you can’t feign outragewhen a comedienne uses vulgarity to describe the most vulgar man to ever be president.  

Another concept you Republicans can ditch is your image as so-called fiscal conservatives. I mean, did you even read that deficit-busting tax bill you passed a few months ago? Don’t answer that — I know you rushed it out the door and didn’t even bother to check for typos (or huge, glaring loopholes). But take it from me, nobody is going to take you guys seriously ever again when you scream that spending is out of control or that the budget needs to be balanced or that we can’t afford to fund public education. Clearly, the GOP doesn’t care about the budget, and most likely never did. 

Finally — and I know this is going to be the most painful for you conservatives — let’s have no more talk of conservative values or the GOP agenda. You have no values beyond the naked pursuit of power and winning at any cost. You have no agendabeyond making sure that white, straight men are perpetually on top. This is why you guys are very good at campaigning and finding a way to control the government — but not so good at the actual governing part.

So that’s my prescription for the GOP.

Of course, a natural question is to ask is the following: Who am I to offer this unsolicited advice? After all, I don’t have a degree in political science, nor have I ever worked on a campaign.

But that’s the beauty of the Republican Party. The GOP has made it clear that expertise in a given field is irrelevant. Hell, it may even be detrimental.

According to conservatives, you can’t believe those egghead scientists who use data to prove global warming, or those studies that say more guns equals more violence, or those pundits who use fancy facts and actual numbers instead of anecdotal evidence and conspiratorial rants to prove a point. 

Hey, one of Trump’s biggest selling points to his supporters is his total lack of governmental experience and ignorance of policy. And that’s worked out great… except for the constant chaoserupting from the White House and the rampant corruption engulfing the administration.

So take it from me, dear GOP, this is advice you can use.

Trust me.

 

Friday
Apr272018

Case Closed

Look, I’m really telling you this for the last time.

It is a myth that Trump was elected by poor white people, who had been cruelly left behind by a rapidly changing world.

While it is true that, for a bevy of bizarre reasons, the president is wildly popular with lower-income rural white people, there are three issues with this bit of conventional nonsense. 

First, coal miners and farmers have been no more “left behind” than travel agents and typewriter salesman have. So knock it off with the strained excuses for their poor judgment and refusal to adapt to an evolving society. 

Second, there are simply not enough unemployed factory workers to account for Trump’s sickening 40 percent approval rating. Hell, every Trump voter I have personally encountered has been doing just fine, economically, and myriad studies have shown that poor people were actually more likely to vote for Hilary Clinton. 

And third, and most important, people didn’t vote for Trump because of economic reasons. They voted for him because he’s a fucking bigot.

Yes, I know many people who voted for the lunatic did so out of party loyalty or a misguided urge to stick it to the establishment or some other really, really bad reason.

But a great many people who pulled the lever for an inexperienced megalomaniac with a history of bankruptcies were not just overlooking the man’s blatant racism. They were endorsing it.

You see, yet another study has come out showing that“Trump voters weren’t driven by anger over the past, but rather fearof what may come.” In particular, “white, Christian and male voters… turned to Mr. Trump because they felt their status was at risk.”

As an aside, has any profile of the average Trump voter not included at least one of the following words: “fear,” “anger,” “anxiety”? Hey, when your chief defining characteristics are all negative, it’s not surprising that your choices aren’t the most uplifting.

But I digress.

The point is that, according to this study, “losing a job or income between 2012 and 2016 did not make a person any more likelyto support Mr. Trump.” In addition, “the mere perception that one’s financial situation had worsened” didn’t matter, nor did that person’s view on trade, the unemployment rate in his or her area, or the density of manufacturing jobs nearby. None of that economic shit mattered at all. 

So what did have an impact? Well, would it surprise you to learn that “economic anxiety did not explain Mr. Trump’s appeal,” but “a growing sense of racial or globalthreat” did? Yes, “Trump support was linked to a belief that high-status groups, such as whites, Christians or men, faced more discrimination than low-status groups, like minorities, Muslims or women.” As we know, such thinking is not just paranoid, but factually wrong. However, that was of no consequence. Just the feeling, irrational as it was, that Latinos and blacks were taking over was enough to motivate many white people to support a misogynist, delusional bigot. 

The researchers point out that whites “who exhibited a growing belief in group dominance,” in the idea that “hierarchy is necessary and inherent to a society,” jumped on the Trump train, which reflected “their hope that the status quo be protected.”

Hey, that sounds suspiciously like plain, old-fashioned racism to me.

But that would be insulting to all those salt-of-the-earth types who don’t have a bigoted bone in their body and are just looking for good, honest work and blah, blah, blah.

The researchers conclude that “the prevailing economic theory lends unfounded virtueto Trump’s victory, crediting it to the disaffected masses” when in fact, it is more accurate to say cultural anxiety was the chief factor. And while the researchers are too polite to state it outright, clearly the root of that cultural anxiety was white supramacy.

So can we stop it with the image of the downtrodden Trump voter in his depressed little town who has no issue (none!) with Hispanics or gays or immigrants, and who just really wants to get back his assembly line job? Can we just fucking drop it already?

Because I really am telling you all this for the last time. 

 

Friday
Apr202018

Who’s Got Your Back?

One of the more disconcerting facts about America in 2018 is that about 40 percentof us approve of the job President Tiny Fingers is doing.

This comes despite the knowledge that his administration has no accomplishments other than a massive tax cut for rich people and corporations. And this approval level has held relatively steady even in the face of constant disasters, comical ineptitude, overt corruption, and borderline insane behavior, to say nothing of Trump’s constant attacks on decency, the rule of law, America’s standing, and the humanity of anyone who isn’t a straight white male.

Hell, even his fellow Republicans say that you must be delusional or comatoseto be unconcerned about how horrific the situation has gotten.

It doesn’t matter. Because line up 10 Americans, and four will say, “I like him, because he’s shaking things up” or some such nonsense.

Of course, Trump’s approval rating is highest among angry white men. The rest of us aren’t so keen.

You can see this by measuring the level enthusiasm for his greatest ambition — that fucking wall on the Mexican border. A recent pollfinds that a bare majority (51 percent) of white voters think that it’s a bad idea. That percentage, unsurprisingly, is substantially higher for Latinos, 71 percent of whom know that a wall is just flat-out idiocy.

But what’s most interesting is that “the community that is the least supportive of one of the main tenets of Trump's immigration plan isn't Latinos; it's black Americans.” Yes, a full 87 percent of black voters oppose the wall.

That’s right — black people hate Trump’s immigration policies even more than Hispanics do. In fact, “no ethnic group opposes the border wallmore than black Americans.”

One reason for this could be that some Latinos are so self-loathing, so eager to gain status in the eyes of white conservatives, that they will support something as crazy and denigrating as the wall (which, as I’ve stated before, will never be built). As such, the percentage of Hispanics who support the wall, while low, is still embarrassingly high.

Another reason is that, as the survey authors point out, “some Americans who identify as black may also be Latino since Latino is an ethnicity, not a race.”

But you knew that already.

In addition, “some black Americans feel that despite Trump's focus on immigration from Latin America, hundreds of thousands of immigrants from predominantly black countries are affected by his policy, as well.”

That’s all true, of course.

However, those reasons do not fully explain why black Americans are so overwhelmingly hostile to Trump’s immigration madness.

So maybe it is because African Americans, with a history of persecution that continues to this day, aren’t buying the conservative bullshit that there is no racism to see here. Or perhaps black Americans are empathetic to people who are trying to improve their lives in the face of harassment and discrimination. 

Or just maybe, as author Raquel Reichard wrote, “Our struggles, even for those of us who aren't Afro-Latino, are linked…. Black and brown people in the U.S. have always lived in the same neighborhoods, worshiped at the same churches, attended the same schools and frequented the same stores and restaurants. We are neighbors and allies in the class and race struggle.”

And in times like these, it’s good to have allies.