Asleep at the Wheel?

As you know, the Democrats are poised to win 5,698 congressional seats (more or less) next month, and there is nothing on Earth that can stop the vengeful cleansing of the mighty Blue Wave. 

Well, there is one thing: maybe the Democrats won’t get enough votes.

How can that be? 

You are correct to ask such a seemingly naïve question.

After all, for months now, just about every analysis has shown that Democrats are heavily favoredto win back the House, and maybe even snag the Senate while they’re at it. In addition, while the president’s approval rating has improved from “abysmal” to “very bad,” this is not enough of a turnaround to cause the GOP to swell with confidence.

However, while “Democratic voters are revved up for November. There is one exception to that rule: Latinos.”

Yes, my fellow Hispanics don't seem terribly enthusiastic about the midterms. On the one hand, this is difficult to comprehend. After all, what more proof do we Latinos need that Trump, if he had his way, would deport every person whose last name ends in Z and/or seems just a little too tan? And let’s face it, the rest of the GOP is clearly not enthralled with us as well.

But there are multiple reasons why so many Latinos are poised to perform that most American of behaviors (i.e., skipping election day). 

For starters, the Democratic outreach toward Latinos has been pathetic. Regardless of whether Democrats are ignorant, incompetent, or possess a misguided feeling that everything is in the bag, they have sucked at talking to Hispanic voters. In fact, “nationally,55 percent of Latinos said they have not yet been contacted by a political campaign this year.”

In addition, many Latino voters say “they felt disempowered rather than emboldened; they expressed feelings of cynicism, apathy and fear fueled by the highly fraught political moment.

OK, that makes sense.

Another fact is that Hispanics are younger than other demographics. And it’s well established that young people like, totally space on, like, voting, you know…

Add it all up, and it becomes apparent that we are not talking about a sleeping giant. No, this is a hibernating, heavily medicated goliath who is so deeply zoned-out that he’s practically in a coma.

What will it take to snap him out of his stupor?



Exactly Backwards

As our illustrious leader has informed us, these are dangerous times for men… particularly white ones… particularly straight, rich, conservative ones…

Yeah, that’s right. It’s an absolute horror show for privileged males today.

Of course, common sense and a basic understanding of math reveals that the odds that an American women will be raped in her lifetime is about 1 in 6, while the odds that an American man will be accused of rape is way, way, way lower. And the odds that an American man will be falsely accused is lower still. 

So why — besides Trump’s nauseating predilection for misogyny — is the president advocating for the plight of men?

Well, there is a long history of the most powerful among us presenting themselves as the real victims. It is an effective method for retaining control, even if the hypocrisy and blatant mendacity of the tactic make it apparent to anyone who is the slightest bit non-partisan and/or has the cognitive ability of a ten-year-old.

In any case, this approach goes beyond simple sexism. It is at the core of the whole battle against the nefarious forces of political correctness, which an overwhelming 80 percent of Americans think is a problem in our country.

I’ve written before about how calling something PC is usually shorthand for dismissing the concerns of marginalized groups, and how there is nothing the slightest bit edgy about being non-PC, an ambiguous standard that often signifies a high level of fear and loathing about our changing society.

But is PC a legitimate concern, or is it just an overblown attempt by conservatives to claim victimhood and, in this way, their own political “safe spaces”?

Well, I don’t know of any scientific studies that have analyzed the toxic effects of political correctness. So we’re reduced to looking at anecdotal evidence.

For example, many white people have been caught on tape accosting black people who are minding their own business and posing no threat. Some of these paranoid individuals have been fired or publicly shamed for their actions. Now, let’s assume that it is mere political correctness to call out a white person for, say, calling the cops on an African American who is watching his kid play soccer.

I would call it being a bigoted asshole, but let’s go with the right-wing definition, and say that it’s PC to fire someone for preventing a black man from entering his own apartment.

In that case, yes, I guess you could say that PC has harmed a handful of Americans. But for the most part, this is only when aggressive jerks display extremely prejudicial behavior that happens to be caught on video. Otherwise, they can just go around chanting, “Jews will not replace us” and cracking racist jokes with impunity.

Clearly, PC is a bit toothless if that is the extent of its cultural power.

Now let’s look at the other side.  

Have there been examples of liberals — you know, the PC people — who have been bullied into submission?

Well, there is theblack Vermont lawmaker who “first suspended her re-election campaign before resigning altogether from her post following racist attacks against her and her family.” That’s correct — bigoted trolls attacked an elected representative, and PC did not come to her rescue. In fact, the alt-right abusers got their way.

And then there iswriter Chuck Wendig, who has been the object of many online attacks from conservatives. Wendig was fired from Marvel “after posting a number of explicit tweets attacking Republicans and the GOP over the confirmation of Associate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.”

Once again, the alt-right suffered no consequences for their fusillade on Wendig, who said that his firing “is really quite chilling,” leaving him “very sad, and worried for the country I live in, and the world.”

Why didn’t PC, with its monumental powers, prevent Wendig from losing his job? And why are his alt-right attackers, rather than being chastened, now overjoyed with yet another victory? 

That’s because it is the alt-right that is punishing people for their language and opinions, not the so-called PC police. And it is the Republican Party that is cultivating this surrealistic environment, in that they cry about their oppression and issue a “call for civility as the PA GOP candidate threatens [his opponent] with a golf cleat stomping.”

No, a black lawmaker can lose her job due to alt-right attacks. But a white man who may have committed a felony can get belligerent and still nab a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. Clearly, it doesn’t sound like privileged white men are suffering too much under the hideous yoke of political correctness. 

In fact, I’m tempted to say that much of the whining about America being too PC is just another pathetic, knee-jerk reaction from unimaginative, self-righteous hypocrites. 

But I don’t want to offend anyone.


Mixed Messages

In defiance of all odds, the U.S. economy continues to perform well, even if a lunatic who knows nothing about basic economic laws is at the nation’s helm.

Latinos have noticed the prosperity, relatively mild as it is. In fact, consumer confidence among Hispanics has improved “asoptimism has grownabout their financial situation as well as the U.S. economy as a whole,” according to a new study.

The Hispanic Consumer Sentiment Index — which I for one, never knew existed — is rising, although it continues to trail the overall U.S. population. About 62 percent of Hispanics say they are “financially better off today than a year ago,” and 72 percent of Latinos say, “they will be better off over the next year.” The report adds that 58 percent of Hispanics expect “good times for the country as a whole over the next five years.”

Well, that all sounds pretty rosy. However, one group does not share Latinos’ optimism for America’s continued economic health. That would be our old friends, the super wealthy. A different report finds that “75 percent of ultra-high net worth investors predict America will hit a recession by 2020.” 

Wow, that’s quite a different take on things. 

In fact, 21 percent of rich people believe that a recession “will begin in 2019, and 50 percent expect the next recession to start in 2020.” And remember, these are individuals who obsess over the economy and financial markets, and there are very few Latinos among them.

So is Hispanic faith in the economy misplaced?

Well, I’ve written before about the Latino tendency to be optimistic. While this is definitely a positive trait, it can on occasion lead to irrational conclusions.

For example, if the above statistics are true, then over half of Latinos think the economy will be solid for the next half decade, at least.

But how does that align with the results of a different study that found“Latino families are strugglingwith paying down debt and are the least prepared for financial emergencies”?

That study found that over one-third (38 percent) of Latinos “believe the American Dream is disappearing,” and about a quarter (24 percent) worry about being able to care for their families.

The study reiterated that “Latinos have relatively lower accumulated wealth,” and that many Hispanics are looking at a wicked trifecta of debt. That would be the following grim stats

64% of Latinos have credit card debt. The average credit card debt is $9,652. 

63% of Latinos have a mortgage. The average mortgage debt is $181,292. 

27% of Latinos have student loan debt. The average student loan debt is $32,650.

In addition, the study found that Latinos are “less prepared than other consumer populations surveyed for a financial emergency, with 19 percent having less than a month of monthly expenses saved.” 

What about these numbers leads Hispanics to think that the good times will just keep coming?

Well, the study states the obvious when it points out that “Latino households are more likely to have a broader definition of family that includes extended family” and that Hispanics have “strong family and cultural values.”

The fact that your family has your back may cause many Latinos to worry less about the future. But even that positive value has a dark side, because according to the report, “Latino families are juggling multiple financial priorities, such as a future caregiver role for elderly parents.”

Again, the economy is definitely doing well. But it can’t last much longer, even if we didn’t have an impulsive, ignorant racist calling the shots. Sooner or later — and most likely, sooner — a crash is coming.

Maybe we should brace ourselves for that inevitability, rather than just hoping and feeling good about our bright, shiny futures.



Oh, Yeah… That Thing…

With all the conniptions about Kavanaugh and the horrible injustices facing rich, white, straight men and the fact that the president is more or less a felonious tax cheat, there is another issue that we all seem to have forgotten about.

Yes, I’m talking about the fact that“in shelters from Kansas to New York, hundreds of migrant children have been roused in the middle of the night in recent weeks and loaded onto buses … for a cross-country journey to their new home: a barren tent city on a sprawling patch of desert in West Texas.”

This is the continuation of the Trump Administration’s nightmarish zero-tolerance approach to border enforcement, which as you recall, led to kids being ripped out of their parents’ arms, Americans becoming horrified at our government’s inhumane behavior, and conservatives shrugging and saying, “Eh, what can you do?”

Even though U.S. courts ordered the administration to reunite immigrant families, the White House missed the deadline, which is essentially just another grotesque fuck-up in a long line of staggering incompetence. Now, with even more kids showing up unaccompanied the border, “the federal government struggles to find room for more than 13,000 detained migrant children— the largest population ever — whose numbers have increased more than fivefold since last year.”

In these tent cities — where there is no education and access to legal services is limited — the average length of time that migrant kids have spent “in custody has nearly doubled … from 34 days to 59 days.”Studies have down that “the longer that children remain in custody, the more likely they are to become anxious or depressed, which can lead to violent outbursts.”

And of course, yanking children out of bed in the middle of the night “without providing enough time to prepare them emotionally or to say goodbye to friends could compound trauma that many are already struggling with.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “There must be a good reason why the Trump Administration hasn’t reunited these families and/or developed a halfway decent plan for taking care of these kids.”

Well, the joke is on you — and me and all Americans and every immigrant child in this morass of madness.

Because the truth is that the administration never had a plan for how to deal with this crisis of its own making. Furthermore, the Department of Homeland Security “was not ready to carry out the Trump Administration's family separation policy, and some of the government's practices made the problem worse.”

As such, the White House has basically admitted, “Oh shit, we didn't expect Americans to actually want us to get those kids back to their parents. Our bad.”

Clearly, the president is completely indifferent to the plight of Latinos, immigrants, children, and most especially, Latino immigrant children. This sociopathic blasé attitude toward human suffering is one of the chief characteristics of the Trump Administration. The other is bumbling ineptitude. Put them together, and you have an inevitable dynamo clusterfuck.

In addition, it is only now that the administration is starting to catch on to the fact that destroying families and terrorizing children actually costs money. So the president has “diverted nearly $10 million in funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.” 

As critics (i.e., sane and/or decent human beings) point out, the administration is paying “for this horrific program by taking away from the ability to respond to damage from this year’s upcoming and potentially devastating hurricane season” even as “American citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still suffering from FEMA’s inadequate recovery efforts.”

In total, the Department of Homeland Security has “transferred $169 million from other agencies to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the detention and removal of migrants this year.” Documents show that much of the money “was taken from the response and recovery, preparedness and protection and mission support operations budgets, which are used to prepare for emergencies.”

To keep things in perspective, “the Trump Administration would rather separate families and detain and deport parents [than] prepare for hurricanes.”

If one tried, it might be possible to come up with a more costly, delusional, self-destructive, brutalizing system.

But I doubt it.



Recently, my family suffered a devastating, unexpected tragedy.

It is at such times that we are grateful — more than ever — for our loved ones. We are grateful for friends, and we are especially grateful if we are fortunate enough, as I am, to be part of a genuinely close family (apparently, actually liking your family members is often, but not exclusively, a Latino thing).

This site has never been a confessional-type blog, where I express my feelings or reveal my innermost thoughts on personal matters. So I’m not going to start doing that craziness now.

Instead, I will repost, without additional comment, an article I wrote a few years ago about a very special member of my family.

Here it is:

Cousin #1 is the second oldest, after me, and in brief, she is the most popular introvert the world has ever known. Cousin #1 seems to be friends with everyone in our hometown, despite the fact that she would rather chew glass than call attention to herself. How then does she build this social circle?

For starters, she has an absurd amount of faith in the concept of humanity. She makes jaded vatos, stressed single moms, and nonplussed grocery clerks feel like they are the most fascinating people to cross her path in eons. This interest cannot be faked, and indeed, it isn’t.

She came to visit me once when I was living in LA. She took a Greyhound bus in, which anyone can tell you is routinely filled with the most deranged, shrill, deluded, and unstable individuals from the lower forty-eight states who can scrape together enough cash to attempt a new start in Southern California. I told her it wasn’t a good idea to take the bus, but she insisted. When I picked her up in downtown LA (itself a hotbed of shady individuals and wild-eyed schemers), Cousin #1 hopped off the bus with a broad smile, hugged one of her fellow passengers goodbye, and told me that she had “met many friends” on the journey. I thought she was insane for even talking to the assortment of thugs, drunks, and crazies who had hitched a ride with her.

Cousin #1 plays violin, and is by far the most musically talented member of our family. In fact, as a teenager, she performed a concert with our hometown’s symphony orchestra after being identified as one of the city’s promising young musicians. In her adolescence, she could be found intently practicing Mozart, although she was just as likely to be blaring KMFDM and Ministry from her bedroom. 

Cousin #1 was a social worker for years, and she often went door-to-door in poor neighborhoods, checking in on recent immigrants and third-generation welfare moms to see if their children’s basic needs were being met. She put people in touch with the right agencies or translated documents or just listened to them whisper about how America was a much harsher place than they had been led to believe. In one especially tough neighborhood, she was robbed at gunpoint in broad daylight.

She doesn’t eat in Spanish restaurants because of the conquistadors’ cruelty to the El Salvador natives. And it takes little prompting for her to show off the huge Mayan warrior eagle tattooed across her shoulders. It is an inky proclamation of Latina identity and pride that forces those who see the tattoo to consider it a living entity rather than a mere design. 

Because of her chronic compassion, the harshest insult she hurls is “boo-gee,” which sheapplies to items that strike her as inane in their bourgeois popularity. She is often caught between her fierce desire to solve all the world’s problems at once and her drive to accommodate others. 

Cousin #1 is, in many ways then, your typical Hispanic, violin-playing, tattooed social worker who effortlessly makes people happy.


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