Thursday
Jul052018

Into the Future

Fortunately, the United States has survived the insidious plot of liberals to instigate a second civil war, and we all enjoyed Independence Day without bloodshed — well, without any more bloodshed than usual, because after all, we are Americans here.

In any case, everybody is talking about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year-old Latina who defeated a 10-term Democrat in the primary election for a House seat in New York.She was a bartender a year ago, but now she’s headed to Congress.

Ocasio-Cortezis young, educated, female, and of course, Hispanic. As we all know, none of those four traits line up well with the GOP. So put them all together, and it’s possible that Republicans will burst into flames if they enter the same room as her.

Now, we heard a lot about voters in New York wanting a representative who “looks a lot more like the constituents in the very diverse district” than the “56-year-old white man” who has been in Congress forever.

That’s true, of course, which seems to bother people if we’re talking about Latinos or black people. After all, ethnic minorities are supposed to shun “identity politics.” But white evangelicals, for example, can offer record support to loudmouthed moron who shares none of their values, and it certainly can't have anything to do with their shared race — nope.

Regardless, demographics were an important factor in Ocasio-Cortez’s victory, which is all fine and good. Butkeep in mind that Ocasio-Cortez also won in neighborhoods that were not heavily Latino, implying that her progressive ideas won over lots of people who don’t have a z in their names.

One could argue that in addition to proving the electoral potential of Latinas, her win “proves that people are ready to move away from out-of-touch, establishment Democrats.”

But of course, they wouldn’t be establishment Democrats if they weren’t hand wringing nonstop. We’re hearing from many liberals that electing bona fide progressives is impossible, and candidates like Ocasio-Cortez will turn off independent voters. Their thinking is that it’s better to play it safe and go with moderate, establishment candidates because that has so worked so well…

No really — that is their thinking.

Those of us who are progressive might mention that moderate Democrats have jack-shit to show for their timidity, and giving the people more Hillary Clinton clones is the essence of head-in-the-sand denial and the surest path to irrelevance.

Much of this attitude comes from the skittish nature of the Democratic Party, combined with its incredible talent for fucking things up and losing elections that it should win in a damn landslide.

But most it is because the Democratic Party remains enamored of the white working class — even though the WWC has made it perfectly clear that it is all in on Trump. Moderate Democrats keep insisting — despite mountains of statistical data and acres of anecdotal evidence — that if they avoid saying the word “liberal,” long enough, millions of Trump voters will suddenly abandon their hatred of Latinos and Muslims and immigrants in favor of… what exactly… expanding Medicare?

It’s interesting to note that Republicans don’t concern themselves with appealing to moderates, and they keep winning elections, despite the fact that most of America hates their agenda. Yes, conservatives can nominate a lunatic right-wing child molester and still almost win. Clearly, they play to their base, and they freely insult anyone who doesn’t agree with them, while Democrats flail pathetically and shriek, “Why don’t you like us? Pretty please?”

And speaking of agenda items, keep in mind that most of Ocasio-Cortez’s supposedly radical philosophy consists of ideas that most Americans approve of. 

Still, it hasn’t stopped conservatives for attacking her for being a socialist (that’s Democratic Socialist to you) and for wanting to give all our money to gay terrorist undocumented immigrants and for, I don't know, living in a house or something. Who can tell anymore with all the insanity from the Republican Party?

The bottom line is that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez could be the future of the Democratic Party.

Well, it’s either her or 78-year-old Nancy Pelosi.

Hey, I know who I’m betting on.

 

Thursday
Jun282018

What’s in Your Head?

It looks like we can relax now.

After all, the Trump Administration is no longer splitting up families at the border and… what’s that? Thousands of kids are still missing, and there is mass confusion about how to reunite devastated families? Oh, and the United States is now officially banning visitors to our country based on nothing more than their religion, and the Supreme Court is soon to be even more reactionary than ever? 

Yeah, this week was not a net win.

Before America descends completely into a jingoistic theocracy, it’s worth addressing the people who made all this happen.

No, I’m not talking about a septuagenarian racist with delusions of grandeur and an army of sycophants. I’m talking about the Americans who supported him, and continue to support this overt madness.

You see, when kids started being ripped away from their parents at the border, more than two-thirds of Americans disapproved of the policy. But well over half of Republicans thought it was just fine. This indicates one of three things:

1. Many Republicans are so selfish and indifferent to others that they’re fine with suffering as long as it doesn’t affect them. 

2. Many Republicans are so filled with hatred for Latinos that they actively delight in the agony of Hispanics.

3. Many Republicans are so weak-willed that they will follow their almighty leader on whatever crazed path he takes next, and if Trump said every American had to wear a purple hat on Thursdays or be locked in jail, they would shout, “Yes, whatever you say, Mr. President.”

Or maybe it’s a combination of all those things.

To be clear, you can be conservative on the issue of illegal immigration without being a total asshole. But you cannot support locking up innocent kids — for no discernable reason, no less — without revealing to the world that you are a seriously flawed human being. You simply can’t.

And now that the policy has been reversed, the conservatives who shrieked that this cruel tactic was absolutely necessary to save our nation are now saying, “Eh, no big deal one way or another.”

Of course, the total absence of a clear goal, plan for success, vision for the future, and exit strategy was all in keeping with the GOP’s long-running tradition of just winging it. 

Hey, it worked in Iraq!

So again, why did conservatives line up to zealously defend a heartless policy that did nothing to achieve its goal, and as far as I can tell, actually cost more time, money, and effort to undertake, and that nobody — really, nobody outside this White House of fanatics — was advocating for? Was it so difficult to say, “I’m for tougher border control, but this is mean-spirited and pointless,” or to admit that the GOP was wrong on this one? 

Apparently, it was, because although no reputable conservative advocating for locking up kids way back in 2015, it has now become a GOP baseline.

In today’s world, with obedience to the mad king the top Republican value, we had conservatives focusing on the ubiquity of chain-link fences, in a truly dazzling display of obsessing on meaningless details in hopes of allowing yourself to sleep better at night. By the way, there’s air in those facilities, and there’s air in churches, so that makes it ok, and why do liberals hate air so much?

We had Fox News insist that these aren’t our kids, and presumably, they are not worthy of basic compassion.

We had rich white people make grotesque comparisons to summer camps.

We had cabinet officials who are apparently robots incapable of anything other than fealty to a muddled, contradictory agenda based on lashing out at the defenseless.

We had a guy make the phrase “womp womp” a catchphrase for sociopathic indifference.

It doesn't matter that religious leaders from across the theological and political spectrum condemned it, or that major business leaders condemned it, or that a few principled conservatives spoke out against it.

No, we had Trump supporters who got angry and demanded that we all “quit trying to make us feel teary-eyed for the children." 

Well, we all should apologize most profusely. We briefly thought Trump’s base might not be composed of ogres who lack basic empathy. As such, we should never again try to make them feel the slightest bit of compassion for anyone ever again.

Perhaps my favorite justification of the administration’s policy came from those Americans who think of themselves as kind-hearted decent people who would never — and I mean never — endorse cruelty to kids and Nazi-like tactics. They often said Americans had no choice but to support the president.

Well, here’ a brief history of that type of mindset: 

1850: “I feel bad for the slaves, but it’s the law.” 

1940: “I feel bad for the Jews, but it’s the law.” 

1960: “I feel bad for the blacks, but it’s the law.” 

2018: “I feel bad for the kids, but it’s the law.”

 

Yes, that all makes it ok.

 

Tuesday
Jun192018

Bottomed Out

It was our old friend Bill Shakespeare who wrote, “The worst is not/ So long as we can say, ‘This is the worst.’ (King Lear).

I’m not a Shakespearean scholar, but I think this phrase means that in life, you can’t recognize the low point until you’re past it. The nadir is visible only in hindsight.

Indeed, how many times have we said that our team can’t keep losing, or that we can’t drop any farther into debt, or that the neighbors can’t blare their horrible music any louder than they do?

And then all those things just keep happening.

On a cultural level, how often have we said that gun violence can’t get any more horrific before a real change in our laws occurs? And how many times have we shouted that the blatant racism so many Americans endure cannot be tolerated any longer?

And then all those things just keep happening. 

So it’s worth considering if Trump has reached the limits of his repugnance. Does ripping children away from their families, and then locking those kids in cages, constitute the worst thing that he has done? 

For a man whose stomach-churning misdeeds are too plentiful to count at this point — and whose behavior at times seems like a heavy-handed liberal satire of an evil Republican — well, yes, this seems to be the worst thing so far.

But remember, we also said that about Charlottesville, which seems almost quaint in retrospect.

In any case, it’s difficult to imagine a more inhumane, sociopathic, un-American act than the administration’s policy of separating families. More than 2,000 children have been yanked from their parents, an action that many doctors say can lead to lifelong trauma.

And for what purpose, exactly?

Apparently, it’s the White House’s way of getting tough on illegal immigration (despite the fact that native-born Americans are a bigger threat than undocumented people). Or it’s an effective deterrent (despite the fact that it’s not). 

Or it’s a negotiating tool, which is mind-boggling in its cynicism and indifference to human life. Or it’s all the fault of the Democrats, a pathetic excuse that volleys between grotesque lie and a feeble passing of the buck. 

No, there really is no good reason for this change in policy. It is nothing more than the Trump Administration’s wild careening toward increasingly far-right policies, combined with an urge to appeal to its nativist base, mixed with the president’s well-documented hatred of Latinos, all topped off with Trump’s disdain for compassion, decency, or any of those weak, crybaby emotions.

It is exactly what many liberals feared back in November 2016. And it is exactly what so many rage-filled bigots voted for. And it is the absolute worst.

Which all means that the worst is yet to come.


Thursday
Jun142018

Land of the Brave?

Now in its fourth century of existence, the United States of America has withstood the birth pangs of violent revolution, a bloody civil war, the enslavement of millions of its residents, the brutal forces of racism and xenophobia, the Great Depression, multiple recessions, the murder of some of its most brilliant leaders, two world wars, Vietnam, Iraq, and the September 11 attacks.

But you know what we can't possibly endure? You know what would break our back and destroy the nation?

That would be the impeachment of Donald Trump. 

Yes, according to many commentators, impeaching the lunatic of Pennsylvania Avenue would be bad for the country, even a “grave injustice.” And plenty of Trump supporters have threatened to “begin a second civil war in the U.S. if President Trump were impeached.”

Even our old friend Nancy Pelosi said “pushing Trump out of office would further ‘divide the country’ and suggested it could do more harm than good.”

Oh, I know that two other presidents have been impeached — one just a couple of decades ago. And nobody ever suggested that trying to remove Bill Clinton from office might result in America’s collapse. Although to be fair, that was all about a blowjob, which is far more of a crisis than silly things like selling out the nation to a homicidal dictator of a hostile country. I mean, it’s about priorities. 

And I know that this nation has endured warfare, natural disasters, civil rights outrages, drug epidemics, economic collapses, rioting in the streets, and even the rise of disco (that one really stung). But clearly, we’re just fragile princesses when it comes to the strain of a Senate trail of the president. 

It’s best to just avoid the whole thing and go about our business.

After all, we wouldn't want to upset Trump’s hardcore supporters, who as we know, are a minority of the population, have had their every concern or insecurity elevated to national prominence, and are driven primarily by racism, hatred, fear, and ignorance. No, let’s just kowtow to them even more than we already have.

It’s just a good thing that we’re not implying that if a subsection of America threatens violence, we’ll all give in — oh wait, that’s exactly what we’re implying. Never mind.

Well, at least we’re not saying that corruption, incompetence, and neo-fascist tendencies would actually be rewarded, rather than punished, which is horrifying in both the present and because of its ramifications for future presidents. Check that — I guess we are saying that too.  

And we’re certainly, most definitely not saying that all the talk about the rule of law, and the importance of checks and balances, and the sanctity of the Constitution, and the strength of America’s institutions, and the integrity of its very culture — all that is meaningless. Oops, wrong again — we are not just implying that but screeching it from the rooftops.

But still, whatever horrors the Mueller investigation uncovers, we should all just ignore them. Yes, only good things can come from denying reality and appeasing madmen. 

We should do this, you know, for America’s sake.

Wednesday
Jun062018

Get Up and Go

As I’ve mentioned before, my mom emigrated from El Salvador. She’s been a US citizen for decades now and has never regretted her decision to leave Central America.

We all know, of course, that the United States is a nation of immigrants (ok, not all of usknow that). 

Still, the only reason that this nation exists as a major world power is because, over the centuries, millions of people, originating from just about every country on Earth, took huge gambles and endured hardships to come here for a shot at a better life.

It’s the American Dream, right? 

Well, maybe that’s no longer true.

You see, a recent article in Bloombergasked the completely logical question “Why do Americans stay when their town has no future?”

Yes, the article is a look at our favorite fellow citizens — the white working class — and an examination of why they refuse to leave their dying small towns in search of better opportunities. After all, they are the descendents of hearty immigrants who crossed oceans for a new life. So why do they insist on sticking around decrepit mill towns and desolate farm communities, when in many cases, all they have to do is drive to another part of their home state?

The article, which makes for extremely depressing reading, quotes one low-income blue-collar worker as saying, “The American Dreamis kind of to stay close to your family, do well, and let your kids grow up around your parents.” 

Personally, I found that statement jarring. The article’s writers apparently agreed, calling the quote “a striking comment” because of the fact that “not that long ago, the American Dream more often meant something quite different, about achieving mobility — about moving up, even if that meant moving out.”

Let me mention here again that my seven cousins and I grew up together and were tighter than many nuclear families. That’s common among Latino families. In adulthood, we’re still close, but many of us have moved to other states to pursue the best lives for ourselves. Right now, we’re scattered around the country. In spite of having stronger bonds than most families (not a boast, just the truth), we also knew that all of us living in the same city for our entire lives was unlikely. Our parents came from other countries, so the concept of moving just wasn’t scaryto us. 

Contrast that to the residents of rural Ohio profiled in theBloombergarticle. They seem petrified of ever leaving their bleak environs. And this reluctance to move is “all the more confounding given how wide the opportunity gap has grown between the country’s most dynamic urban areasand its struggling small cities and towns.”

Economists are perplexed at this phenomenon. But keep in mind that these are the same people who wondered why so many Americans threw logic out the window during the Great Recession and held onto their underwater houses. One would think that economists would now have plenty of proof that Americans don’t make purely objective financial decisions and that emotions play a huge part in their behavior. 

So I guess I’m saying that maybe it's the economists who are clueless here.

In any case, “Americans have grown less likely to migratefor opportunity.” The statistics back this up. We see that “fewer Americans moved in 2017 than in any year in at least a half-century. This change has caused consternationamong economists and pundits, who wonder why Americans, especially those lower on the income scale, lack their ancestors’ get-up-and-go.” 

We would be remiss if we didn't acknowledge that the situation has “a stark political dimension, too, given how much Trump outperformedpast Republican candidates in those left-behind places.”

But what many experts don’t want to admit is that the fear of moving is related to the fear of change, which in turn is related to the fear of immigrants, and so on down the scale of anxiety. The basic factor here is the terror that the white working class feels about a changing world, and its members’ strong sense of entitlement that they never have to change a damn thing in their lives because everything must to be altered to maintain their status. 

Many people in these depressed areas feel that America owes it to them to make their towns boom again, regardless of the cost to the rest of the country. However, “it’s hard to arguethat, say, a town that sprang up for a decade around a silver mine in Nevada in the 1870s needed to be sustained forever once the silver was gone.” That would be ludicrous. But “if all of southern Ohio is lagging behind an ever-more-vibrant Columbus, should people there be encouraged to seek their fortunesin the capital?”

Um, yeah — they should.

In essence, “America was built on the idea of picking yourself upand striking out for more promising territory.”

What’s changed?

Only the specter of crippling fear.

 

Page 1 ... 2 3 4 5 6 ... 37 Next 5 Entries »