Pass the Wine

Yes, it is indeed challenging in Year One of the Orange Despot to find anything to be grateful for.

Normally, at this time of the year, we would offer thanks for what we have and all the positive developments that are happening for us as a nation.

However, the consensus among sane Americans is that, this year, we should instead give gratitude for the things we don’t have and the horrible acts that have not occurred.

For example, we don’t have a war with North Korea, or a collapsed economy, or a rescinded First Amendment, or a total absence of healthcare for all except the super-rich — at least not yet.

So let’s all shout, “hallelujah” over these amazing gifts.

But there is one group of Americans who are truly grateful this holiday season. Now, I’m not talking about the mega-wealthy one percenters, or the plutocrats who are devouring our country. Although they’re doing great, those bastards are never grateful for anything, because their whole lives are relentless, insatiable quests for more, more, more.

No, I’m referring to the Trump true believers. I’m talking about those fabled white working-class voters who love Trump and live in places like rural Pennsylvania — you know, the people who decided the election and overwhelmed your vote.

Politico recently ran an article profiling the president’s most fanatical supporters. The article found that for these voters, their “satisfaction with Trump now seems untethered to the things they once said mattered to them the most.”

In other words, last year, these people said they were voting for Trump because he would bring back the coal industry, end the opioid epidemic, build that fucking wall, etcetera.

Almost a year later, Trump hasn’t accomplished any of those things, or even tried particularly hard to do so. And yet, his fans don’t hold it against him. Indeed, “it’s not that the people who made Trump president have generously moved the goalposts for him. It’s that they have eliminated the goalposts altogether.”

Yes, for these voters, it doesn’t matter that we have a bumbling man-child dragging the country into massive discord. He is their guy, and he shares their rage and hatred and ignorance and incoherence. So damn it, they’re sticking with him.

And how does one reason with such superhuman levels of denial and delusion?

Well, it’s simple really. Don’t even try.

You see, the hardcore “Trump supporter is living in a state of downplayed disappointment — like a child taking a bite of black licorice thinking it was chocolate, feeling regret, then accepting the candy anyway.”

I mean, these are people who trust Trump more than they trust Jesus Christ.

Regardless of your religious beliefs, that should tell you something — a whole lot of somethings, actually.

So this Thanksgiving, if you’re stuck sitting next to die-hard Trump supporters, realize that there is quite literally nothing you can say to them to get them to change their mind about the guy.

As such, just skip the chitchat and double up on pumpkin pie. Trust me, dinner will be far more enjoyable that way.

 


Fluke of All Flukes

You so rarely hear about the benefits of racism — you now, the positive stuff.

That’s understandable, of course, seeing how bigotry and hatred have caused more death, destruction, and misery than any other single factor in the history of humankind. And that’s without even getting into how the soul-crushing, dehumanizing force of prejudice has held back our advancement as a species, and plagued every society that has somehow crawled out the muck, cobbled itself together, and declared itself “civilized” in spite of ample evidence that we are no more sophisticated than our monkey ancestors, who by the way, at least didn’t kill each other over the color of their fur. I mean, damn it, people. The monkeys don’t do this shit to each other — the damn monkeys!

But I digress…

In any case, Newsweek recently reported that the opioid epidemic that is savaging America has largely bypassed Latinos and African Americans. And the reason may be because “racial stereotyping is having a protective effect on non-white populations.”

Yes, racism has (arguably) protected Hispanics and blacks from getting hooked on the feel-good pills.

How can this be?

To continue reading this post please click here.


Q4 Blues

Among the many torturous reasons that Trump supporters give for their ill-considered votes is that, supposedly, only a businessman can steer the mighty ship known as the US economy.

Yes, conservatives will grant you that our two most recent economic surges occurred when a pot-smoking draft dodger and a secret Kenyan communist, respectively, were masquerading as president while secretly plotting to destroy America. But in Republican eyes, the economy would have been even hotter during those time periods if a fine patriotic businessman had been in charge.

In any case, the idea of running government like a business “has been tried again and again, only to fail again and again.”

This is because “business has a convenient bottom line, called ‘profit,’ which can readily be measured.” But “not everything that is profitable is of social value, and not everything of social value is profitable.” In essence, there are many crucial aspects of our society that are for the public good, but that defy easy cost analysis. Things like the military, the police department, fire department, libraries, parks, and public schools “could not exist if they were required to be profitable.”

Furthermore, businesses and corporations “exist for the purpose of maximizing shareholder value — to produce profit and returns on the investments of owners and shareholders. Government in a democracy, by contrast, exists to protect the rights and improve the lives of its citizens.”

So please understand that running the government as if it were a business is a very bad idea, and it is a truly horrible justification for your vote.

And even if you find this overarching argument unpersuasive, realize that the last businessman you should put in charge of the nation is Trump. After all, he led a relatively small “family-owned company over which he held total control and operated in secrecy, without oversight or the need to report to shareholders.” That’s certainly not how the presidency works.

In addition, Trump’s myriad failures, bankruptcies, and lawsuits are well known, as are the tales of the stiffed contractors and discontented business partners he left strewn behind him like capitalist debris. Indeed, Trump has been “a walking disaster as a businessman for much of his life” and there is a vast disconnect between the “perception of Mr. Trump as a self-made mogul and the reality of his being a rich kid who lost other people’s money and made far less for himself than he claims.”

However, if you still believe that the government should be the ultimate business operation, and you inexplicably think that Trump is the man to run it, I have good news for you.

You got your wish.

After less than a year in office, we have “a self-absorbed CEO leading the nation through a divisive political era intent on dismantling the very structure of government itself.”

We have a leader whose chief motivation is to enrich himself quickly and then leave with a golden parachute.

We have an executive who relies on nepotism and cronyism, rather than actual competence, when it comes to filling important jobs.

We have a narcissist who surrounds himself with sniveling yes men, and who demands total loyalty (but offers none in return).

We have an administration that pursues its goals with cutthroat tactics and an almost sociopathic disdain for anyone who gets in the way of perceived success.

We have bureaucrats and middle managers who display a ruthless drive to cut unprofitable lines (even if that line is, say, sick children).

We have a corporate plan where profits go to the top, while the workers settle for scraps.

We have the cult of the leader, where everything the great man says is wise and profound (even of it’s clearly idiotic).

These aren’t hyperbolic examples. This is indeed how a lot of corporations work.

Now, I didn’t say Trump’s America was a good or efficient company. In fact, it illustrates the very worst of capitalism.

And such a business is, of course, doomed to fail. But don’t worry, because when it all collapses, it won’t be the CEO who suffers.

It will be you.

 


Wait Until Next Year

As entertaining as it was to see Trump’s flunkies flail and/or plead guilty, there was another cultural asteroid hurtling across the American stratosphere this week.

I’m talking, of course, about the World Series.

Unfortunately, my hometown Milwaukee Brewers have yet to win the championship trophy. In fact, their sole appearance in the Fall Classic was over 30 years ago, and the wait is beyond frustrating.

So I understand how happy and relieved Houston Astros fans are now that their team has finally won the big game. I’m just bummed that it came at the expense of my adopted hometown Los Angeles Dodgers.

And although it was a wild series (what was with all those homeruns?), the incident I want to analyze took place not on the field but in the dugout.

If you recall, Yuli Gurriel, the Houston Astros first baseman, made a racist gesture and spat out a slur at Dodger pitcher Yu Darvish in Game 3. That ugliness is hard to hide, and Major League Baseball responded quickly by suspending Gurriel for five games… starting next year.

Gurriel, who fled Cuba last year, expressed remorse and apologized to Darvish. The pitcher graciously accepted this.

But before we move on from this tacky situation, it’s worth asking what we have learned from this incident.

Well, for starters, we’ve learned that Latinos can be just as bigoted and hate-filled as anybody else, which is not exactly a heartwarming insight.

We’ve also found out that some people still use the term “chinito,” which I haven’t heard since my childhood. I guess that word doesn’t make it into national discourse too often.

We’ve also learned that life doesn’t follow a movie script. Because if it did, Darvish would have been brilliant in his return to the mound, snagging the win in pivotal Game 7. Instead, the guy got hammered again, didn’t make it out of the second inning, and finished the World Series with an ERA of 21.60… ouch.

We’ve also discovered that Darvish, who was born in Japan, has really adapted to the California lifestyle. I mean, read the guy’s response to Gurriel. Darvish talks about “living in such a wonderful world” and says we need to “stay positive and move forward instead of focusing on anger.” He wraps up his hippie manifesto by saying, “I’m counting on everyone’s big love.” Yeah, the guy’s a Californian all right.

We’ve also realized that Major League Baseball is truly serious about punishing racist or bigoted behavior. Ha, I’m just kidding about that one. Gurriel got suspended, but if MLB really wanted to send a message, they would have expelled him from the World Series. That shit would have resonated.

Finally, we’ve also learned that you can win 104 games, tops in your league, and still fall one game short.

Baseball is funny that way.

 


Um… Thanks?

We have all heard the adage “better late than never.”

It’s a quaint concept, indicating that there is always time to correct a wrong, and that forgiveness is a virtue. Yeah, it’s all very uplifting.

But here’s another adage you may not have heard: “Deathbed confessions will not be accepted.”

Well, that one is not so much an adage as a dire warning. You see, in certain sects of both Christianity and Islam, a person cannot live a vile life, and then right before they kick off, get to say, “I repent.”

Sorry, you don’t get into paradise that way. The idea is that redemption doesn’t come cheap.

However, many Americans are fine with the political equivalent of deathbed confessions. That is the only way to explain the lusty cheering and teary-eyed thanks that many liberals are shouting at those few Republicans who are finally admitting that Trump is a disaster.

I mean, it has been perfectly obvious — after almost a year of nonstop presidential degradation — that the GOP standard bearer is less elder statesman and more vindictive racist liar in over his head who may get us all killed.

And yet the GOP is only now getting this.

It’s too bad nobody ever pointed it out to them.

In any case, before we trip over ourselves proclaiming how sanity is finally returning to the Party of Lincoln, let’s keep a few things in mind.

First, it’s worth noting that “the only elected representatives of the Republican Party in Washington who are willing to speak out against the dangers posed daily by Trump are either suffering from brain cancer or retiring from office.” No, standing up for your principles doesn’t mean as much when you do it while running out the door.

Second, even those Republicans who despise Trump’s malevolence tend to agree with his agenda. So they’re not terribly upset about, say, Muslims getting harassed or banks being allowed to screw over consumers or millions of Americans losing their health insurance.

They just wish that Trump would be a little more low-key about it, so he doesn’t scare off the average American by revealing the truth about the GOP’s brand of right-wing nuttiness. Oh, and many Republicans also don’t like it when Trump personally insults them, but they come crawling back anyway.

Finally, and most important, it’s not like any Republican is prepared to actually do anything about the lunatic they gleefully put in charge of the nuclear weapons. After all, they are “not advocating Trump be removed from office.” Nor have any Republicans “shown any signs that they’ll stand in the way of the Trump administration’s agenda.”

Yes, even after this most mild of public rebukes, Trump is still the man in charge of the GOP, and that will not change any time soon.

So forgive me if I refrain from applauding.

 


Pick a Side

Good news — there is a 35 percent chance that the country will descend into open civil war within the next decade.

Now, you may ask, why is that good news?

Well, personally, I thought the odds of a second Battle of Antietam erupting within the year were around 50/50. So a risk of just 35 percent is positively optimistic.

Hey, nearly four out of five Americans “believe the nation is divided on the most important values.” And some experts claim that the nation is really a mash-up of almost a dozen different cultures where people “increasingly sort themselves into like-minded communities.” And, of yeah, in recent years, residents of both Texas and California have sincerely endeavored to secede from the union.

Naturally, we’re all wondering about the root causes of this internecine madness. Well, as is usual when nations start rotting from the inside, the main problem is the age-old malady of bigotry.

Yes, many social scientists have concluded that America is “vulnerable to racism, tribalism, and conflicting visions of the way forward for our nation.” And it certainly doesn’t help that our deranged president “modeled violence as a way to advance politically,” which feeds right into the narrative of the hardcore right wing and fuels talk of armed conflict.

Indeed, ever since the protests at Charlottesville, it should be perfectly clear to even the most idealistic person that “white fear of demographic change is a powerful force” and that “there are several lines of evidence converging on the idea that America is becoming a more hostile place for immigrants and outsiders.”

If you need further proof, “research does find that in the age of Trump — the age that started with an assertion that Mexicans were sending rapists to the US — it’s becoming more acceptable to be outwardly prejudiced.”

It’s all very depressing, of course, and we are correct to wonder how America has so quickly devolved into a nation where racists feel pretty good about themselves, and hatred toward Muslims is shrugged off a conservative value.

Hell, there was a time (not so very long ago) when “psychologists feared that ‘social desirability bias’ — people unwilling to admit they’re prejudiced, for fear of being shamed — would prevent people from answering questions about prejudice truthfully.” But in this terrible new America, “people will readily admit to believing all sorts of vile things. And researchers don’t need to use implicit or subliminal measures to suss it all out.”

This willingness to be horrible only verifies what progressives and ethnic minorities have been saying for years about a large subsection of America.

And yet, many media outlets still indulge in delusional thinking about Trump and his supporters. Despite mountains of anecdotal evidence — and in some cases, actual data-driven research — many commentators still dance around the issues of racism and xenophobia that characterizes Trump’s most ardent fans.

I mean, how many more studies do we need that show fictional “discrimination against whites was a core concern of Trump’s base”? No, it wasn’t a weak correlation or a side issue. It was a “core concern” of Trump’s support.

How often do we have to hear that “changing racial demographics of America contributed to Trump’s success as a presidential candidate among white Americans whose race/ethnicity is central to their identity”?

The truth is that there are millions of Americans who dream of an all-white country, one that is presumably 100 percent straight and Christian as well.

These are people who have never faced governmental or cultural oppression, and “who sat through the unit on the Second World War in their history class and looked at images of concentration camps and gas chambers and burning books and Anne Frank’s attic and still thought, well, hang on, maybe those Nazis had some interesting ideas.”

And they are all for Trump — to the point that he can no wrong and will never lose their support.

Now, in contrast to the bizarre enthusiasm that Trump supporters have of their man’s performance so far, more than half of all Americans and more than two-thirds of Latinos disapprove of the guy.

These are fundamental differences. One might even say that they are irreconcilable.

And since we’re using that kind of language, let’s admit a basic fact — one that may help us avoid open warfare.

We’re 240 years into this marriage, and maybe it’s time to admit that we’re no longer happy in the relationship. We have clearly grown apart. In fact, it’s worth asking if we ever really got along, because after all, there have been more than a few rocky times and bumps in the road over the decades.

Perhaps everyone would be happier if we called it quits and promised to stay in touch — you know, to negotiate intercontinental trade deals and stuff like that. But this whole idea that we are a unified nation and a cohesive culture… well, come on.

Who are we kidding?

 


It’s the Economy, Estúpido

Of course, it’s still too early to know if Trump will destroy the American economy the way that he has destroyed the lives of thousands of immigrants, portions of the environment, and America’s image and reputation.

But certainly it is a bit disquieting that for the first time in seven years, the United States is losing jobs. To be fair, much of that has to do with the devastation that a cataclysmic (yet somewhat predictable) series of hurricanes has inflicted on the country.

In any case, if one is striving to boost economic growth, it is not a good idea to piss off Latinos. After all, the “U.S. Latino GDP is growing 70 percent faster that the country’s non-Latino GDP.” Furthermore, Hispanics have higher rates of entrepreneurship than other groups, and remain one of the fastest growing demographics in America.

So a sane leader would look at those facts and say, “Damn, these guys are the future, and our nation’s economic growth is intrinsically tied to their financial well-being.”

But come on, we’re talking about a small-fingered, narrow-minded, black-hearted demagogue who doesn’t even understand basic economics. Therefore, it’s little surprise that he has continued to focus his ire on Latinos, with devastating consequences.

For example, “retail sales to Hispanics are tumbling, as immigrants fearful after the election of President Donald Trump stay home and hoard their cash.”

In addition, many labor market measures show that Latinos “have not totally recovered from the Great Recession.”

And when it comes to confidence (consumer or otherwise), keep in mind that “67 percent of Latinos disapprove of the job Trump is doing. By comparison… 54 percent of all adults in the country disapprove of Trump’s job in office.”

Taken together, we see a president who is determined to alienate Latinos, who are of course, crucial to the economic functioning of this country. And we see Hispanics unable to fulfill their true potential because they are too busy fending off the political and cultural assaults of a man so unstable that even his fellow Republicans believe that he is “unraveling.”

All of this could help to sink the economy. And we’re not even talking about the price tag for his idiotic wall that will never happen.

But don’t get me started on that.

 


Truly, What Can You Say?

It has become a mantra here at Hispanic Fanatic worldwide headquarters: Trump is exactly who he is, and he is never going to change.

Oh, I know his approval rating edged up, ever so slightly, when his administration performed semi-competently after hurricanes devastated Texas and Louisiana.

Yes, what passes for success in the Trump Administration is performing a governmental function without fucking it up too badly. What is hailed as a mighty triumph is the mere act of avoiding catastrophe. And the sad thing is that even these pathetic “victories” are rare.

For example, the meager amount of good will that the president had accumulated vanished when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico.

What can you say about the administration’s delay in lifting the Jones Act, and for only a short time, when the island so desperetly needs help?

What can you say about Trump’s dismissal of the hurricane and its death toll as minor issues?

What can you say about Trump’s flippant remarks about Puerto Rico’s debt, which caused Wall Street to promptly freak out?

What can you say about Trump picking a fight with the mayor of San Juan, even bringing back his infamous “nasty woman” remark?

What can you say about Trump implying that Puerto Ricans “want everything done to be for them” and that the cleanup has greatly inconvenienced America?

What can you say when instead of “mourning with and for those who lost their lives, Trump is using those who lost their lives as a way to make a broader argument that the media’s criticism of him is unfair and biased”?

What can you say when the GOP’s response to hurricanes that wipe out ethnic minorities ranges from “Heck of a job Brownie” to “It’s a good news story”?

What can you say about a president who simply cannot take any criticism from a brown person and/or a woman without lashing out like a snarling pit bull?

What can you say about those damn paper towels?

What can you say except that this is the man America elected president, and we are all the sorrier for it.


Stardust

Scientists, philosophers, and techno-electronica musicians agree on one thing: We are all made of stars.

You see, the carbon, nitrogen and oxygen atoms in our bodies, “as well as atoms of all other heavy elements, were created in previous generations of stars over 4.5 billion years ago. Because humans and every other animal as well as most of the matter on Earth contain these elements, we are literally made of star stuff.”

It’s all very poetic, and either humbling or self-aggrandizing (depending on your point of view).

But a recent study has revealed that our origins are even more exotic than we thought. The research showed that “humans are formed from matter that flew billions of miles from another galaxy.”

Scientists now believe that “half of the atoms around us — including in the solar system, on Earth and in each one of us — come not from our own galaxy but from other galaxies, up to one million light years away.”

Basically, what happened a very long, long time ago is that supernova explosions threw out “huge amounts of matter from galaxies, spreading it throughout the universe … on powerful galactic winds.”

Seriously, how cool is that?

The scientists say that this new theory reveals the degree to which everything in the universe is connected. They add that because half of our atoms came from some distant supernova, “we could consider ourselves space travelers or extragalactic immigrants.”

Yes, you read that correctly.

On a cosmic level, at our most basic, we are all truly immigrants.

 


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.

 


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